Alshon Jeffery delivered a second straight dominant performance.
Jay Cutler targeted Jeffery on 15 of his 33 pass attempts, with good reason. Jeffery finished with 10 receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown, his second straight 100-yard game (compared with three all last season, none over the final six games). Jeffery caught four of six passes in the first half, one for a 21-yard touchdown against Xavier Rhodes, winning a jump ball against the Vikings cornerback for a game-tying score just before halftime.
“I think it was a better throw than my route, actually,” Jeffery said. “He just threw it up and gave me a chance. It was a double move but the corner didn’t bite. It was a great throw and I made a great catch.”
Cutler put the pass high enough where Jeffery or no one was making the catch: “That’s why we throw it up to him. That’s why we have him out there. That’s why we take chances with him, because he can make plays like that… . We still have to keep finding ways to get him the ball and get him open in some coverages.”
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Jeffery beat single coverage in the third quarter for a 28-yard gain from Cutler. His catch of a fourth-down throw midway through the fourth quarter involved perfect screening off of the defender for a possession grab the Bears needed to sustain a drive with the score tied.
In a game plan working short early, intent on staying out of third-and-long’s, Eddie Royal caught three passes in the first half but for a total of 2 yards in and then was out for the second half with a knee injury. Martellus Bennett caught three passes for 32 total yards but Marquess Wilson was a virtual non-factor, with just one catch for 14 yards.
Poor blocking by Wilson and others cost the Bears a third-down conversion on a throw to Royal but Robbie Gould converting from 55 yards saved the possession. Jeffery whiffed while blocking on a subsequent screen throw to Royal, forcing the Bears to punt.
Moon's Grade: A
Anthony Miller has quickly become a fan favorite on social media. He has the confidence and swagger found in most top wide receivers and it comes through on his Twitter and Instagram accounts.
Miller was one of 40 players in attendance at the 2018 NFLPA Rookie Premiere where he not only learned about the business and marketing side of football, but also suited up in his Bears gameday uniform for the first time. Of course, he shared the moment on Twitter:
Panini America, a sports collectible company, snapped a picture of Miller with fellow rookie receiver Calvin Ridley (Falcons) and quarterback Mason Rudolph (Steelers):
Miller has become something of a standout for the Bears despite not playing a single snap. He's expected to have a big role in an offense that has several new pieces and roles that are up for grabs.
Miller will compete with former first-round pick Kevin White and free-agent addition Taylor Gabriel for reps opposite Allen Robinson. Miller has the necessary skill set to play as both an outside receiver and in the slot which should give him an even greater opportunity to be on the field quite a bit.
The Bears first three draft picks are all vying for starting jobs in 2018. Roquan Smith (first round) is a lock to start next to Danny Trevathan and James Daniels (second round) will start at guard. Miller should make it three-for-three in a draft class that could end up the best of Ryan Pace's tenure.
Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace is having what many believe is his best offseason since taking the job in 2015, but after three seasons and only 14 wins, he needs a big year in 2018 to justify the confidence ownership has in him.
According to a recent breakdown of all 32 general managers, Pace ranks among the worst decision-makers in the league.
No. 23: Ryan Pace, Chicago Bears
There’s only so much you can accomplish in one spring. The problem is that Pace let himself accumulate so many needs to begin with. He needs Trubisky and Nagy to springboard a fourth-year turnaround.
The rankings didn't include six new GM hires, which makes Pace's positioning even more troubling.
Even though the Bears haven't seen wins on the field, Pace has done a solid job through three draft classes and appears to have the right coaching staff in place. His first hire, John Fox, was a calculated move by a rookie general manager to have an experienced football guy to lean on. Now, several offseasons later, the team is starting to take on his identity.
Despite all the talent Pace has added through the draft and the slow but steady transformation of the team's overall culture, it's a win-now business and if his blueprint doesn't start producing more wins than losses, it will be hard to justify more time and patience for his plan to develop.