One of the most surprising storylines to develop for the Bears this season has been Allen Robinson’s quiet start. Playing on the franchise tag, and with arguably the best quarterbacks of his career, the thought was he could lead the offense on his way to securing a big contract. But he’s been limited to only 26 catches on 44 targets for 271 yards and one touchdown.
“At this point in time in the season, if somebody had told me this is where it would be at, I would have bet heavily against that,” Robinson said.
It’s easy to understand why Robinson is so surprised. At this point last year, he already had 50 catches on 77 targets for 631 yards and three scores一 more than double where he’s at this year, in yards and TDs. In fact, if Robinson continues at this pace, he’d finish with the lowest amount of targets, receiving yards and touchdowns over his four years in Chicago, and that’s with the benefit of playing a 17th game this year. He’d tie his Bears’ low in catches.
“It's been tough,” Robinson said. “Just trying to, you know, trying to account for everything. Trying to see what I can do differently, trying to figure out what there is that can be done differently, again, on my end. Really trying to control the things that I can control to possibly change whatever is going on to increase my production.”
But when he watches the tape, Robinson says he sees the same guy out there. Yes, he’s nursing an ankle injury, but he doesn’t believe it’s affected his game speed. So what gives? Why the drop across the board?
“Tough to say,” Robinson said. “I think for us, just trying to figure out schematically as a team and as a unit what we do well. Trying to find success in that. Obviously we've been running the ball better, so trying to marry some things up with that and stuff like that. I mean, that's all I can kind of put my finger on.”
The Bears have run the ball more, and better, than ever before in Robinson’s tenure, so it makes sense that his targets would naturally come down. Building chemistry with Justin Fields is another reason that is often cited. In that regard, Robinson thinks the extra work and meetings that Fields has organized are starting to help. Slowly.
“It's not something that's just going to, you know, explode overnight,” Robinson said. “It's something that as you kind of progress and run certain routes or see certain things, they just start to become more of a feel rather than you seeing and reacting. You can kind of see it and feel it before it happens and then it happens. I think that those things are definitely starting to happen.”
Looking ahead, Robinson didn’t say he had any personal goals he’d like to reach, from a production standpoint. He’s continuing to consider the big picture, opting to focus on helping the development of the offense with Fields under center. And when his number is called, he wants to make the most of it.
“I just want to go out there and try to play to the best of my ability and execute and maximize all my opportunities,” Robinson said. “That’s just my No. 1 goal. Obviously, with that helping the team, it’s whatever I gotta do. Even watching the film last week, for me, I was upset that I didn’t get the first down on the one stick that I caught late in the game on 3rd-and-6, but again, just being able to kind of maximize those opportunities to the fullest that I can.”