Down the list of things that would’ve happened had Cody Parkey made his game-winning attempt as time expired against the Philadelphia Eagles in January — below the Bears advancing to face the Los Angeles Rams and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, perhaps, not getting the head coaching gig in Denver — is a major narrative: Mitch Trubisky would’ve stood as a playoff hero, with Allen Robinson as his trusty sidekick.
Robinson started to take over the Bears’ first playoff game in eight years in late in the third quarter, with consecutive receptions totaling 57 yards that drove the Bears to the doorstep of the red zone (that drive ended in a field goal). A 22-yard bullying of Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox — who committed pass interference on the play — led to a go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.
And then, with little hope left, Robinson caught passes for 25 and eight yards, miraculously getting the Bears into position to win with time expiring. We all know what happened next.
The point of re-hashing Robinson’s play-by-play here, though, is this: The Bears believe what Robinson showed in those critical situations in January is what he can do for the entire 2019 season.
“Now he can go back and kind of go off that Philly game thinking wow, I did some stuff that I was used to doing, I (previously) wasn’t comfortable doing and now it’s there,” Bears wide receivers coach Mike Furrey said. “Now he’s had a whole offseason to recover physically, he’s come back in shape, he gets to go out there now and throw the ball with Mitch, which he didn’t get to do until training camp last year. I think from a mental standpoint, that’s where he’s going to grow the most.
“(Physically), it’s all there now, it’s all back, he’ll be able to come to camp now physically ready. Mentally, I think this is where it’s going to be fun to watch him to see how far he takes it with his mental aspect of the game.”
Robinson didn’t participate in OTAs a year ago while he was recovering from a torn ACL that prematurely ended his final season with the Jacksonville Jaguars. That robbed him of his first chance to not only take a crash course in Matt Nagy’s offense, but develop timing and chemistry with Trubisky.
Robinson missed three games last season due to groin and ribs injuries, though, which does leave his health as a question mark entering Year 2 of his three-year contract. But during OTAs this spring, Robinson is healthy and said he feels “light years ahead” of where he was a year ago.
“I wasn’t participating, so being able to go out here, be at different positions, see different looks and things like that, it’s got me better,” Robinson said.
That Robinson put up the production he did — 55 catches on 94 targets for 754 yards with four touchdowns — is viewed positively by those around Halas Hall. As Furrey said, Robinson wasn’t completely comfortable in the offense until late in the season, and still managed to have a pair of 100-yard games and then set a franchise receiving record in the playoffs with those 10 catches for 143 yards.
"He knows exactly what he’s doing on every single play," Trubisky said. "Me and him are just able to build that timing — the routes and adjustments and what we want to get done in the offseason. It’s been great having him out here, throwing to him and I think it’s just gonna help our dynamic duo and help push the other guys to get even better all offseason long."
The Bears are the only team in the NFL to not have a 1,000-yard receiver since 2015, with that mark last broke in Chicago by Alshon Jeffery in 2014. If Robinson can build off his record-setting playoff game, as the Bears expect, he could be the one to snap that cold streak.
“I’m pretty familiar with this offense, spending last year in it, being able to have an offseason to kind of look through it and look at things, for me, it’s definitely an advantage,” Robinson said. “… I’m trying to create big plays, I’m trying to make this offense as explosive as possible.”