Kendall Wright has been the Bears’ most productive receiver in 2017, with 20 catches on 26 targets for 236 yards and a touchdown. But he only played eight snaps against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, about 21 percent of the offense’s total.
The Bears’ gameplan — which went ultra-conservative after Eddie Jackson’s two touchdowns — was centered around a run-first, mistake-free approach that dictated more heavier sets (two tight ends, two tight ends and a fullback, three tight ends, etc). And that led to Wright being used sparingly.
“When you’re in the bigger groupings and trying to play to your strengths that way it does limit some of the things he does,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said. “The last two weeks we’ve chosen to do some no-huddle stuff on third down to kind of help Mitchell (Trubisky). So, it has limited some of Kendall’s touches and those things.”
The Bears haven’t lost confidence in Wright, who played under Loggains during his most productive years with the Tennessee Titans and signed a one-year prove-it contract in the offseason. He’s a savvy, football-smart veteran who can reliably get open, especially ahead the chains on third down. Those traits haven’t vanished.
But the team views Wright mostly as a slot receiver with some ability to play outside, though it’s telling that over 70 percent of his snaps since Trubisky took over at quarterback have come in three-receiver sets.
This is where Dontrelle Inman could, theoretically, help get Wright on the field more. Inman had success last year with the Chargers as someone with the flexibility to play inside and outside, but at 6-foot-3, 198 pounds, he has better size to play outside than the 5-foot-10, 194 pound Wright.
It’s unlikely Inman — who coach John Fox expects to take his physical either Wednesday night or Thursday morning — will step in and make an immediate impact on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. Not only will Inman have to get up to speed on a new offense quickly, but he hasn’t been active since Oct. 8 and last was targeted Oct. 1. Inman has two catches on four targets this year after a 97-target, 58-catch, 810-yard breakout season in 2016.
But the addition of Inman gives the Bears a low-risk, low-cost (ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Chargers are receiving a conditional 2018 seventh-round pick in the trade) shot at finding a wide receiver for Trubisky to trust. But even if he doesn’t find the form he had a year ago, perhaps he’ll help allow the Bears to find a way to get Wright on the field a little more. And Wright is definitely someone Trubisky can trust.
“(Wright)’s a guy in my opinion who’s better when he doesn’t play 75 snaps,” Loggains said last week. “When he gets to play in that 25-35 range, he’s fresh and can bring the energy and juice.”