What Are the Bears' Options at Wide Receiver if Allen Robinson is Out?

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What Are the Bears’ Options at Wide Receiver if Allen Robinson is Out?

Chicago Bears

Even though Allen Robinson is officially listed as doubtful to play in the Chicago Bears’ Week 17 game against the Minnesota Vikings, a combination of gut feelings, logic, and recent history leads me to believe he will sit this one out.

It’s a decision that would be wise for a team with eyes on a bigger prize, but one that would also leave the team short-handed at an important skill position. And while the Bears don’t have another Robinson who can suit up and take his place, they could still piece together a competitive group of receivers. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Bears’ options because I’d find it hard to believe they would suit up just Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, and Joshua Bellamy as active receivers in a game that still has meaning for them, their opponents, and Matt Nagy’s friends in Philadelphia.

Kevin White

White has been limited to just 124 total offensive snaps this season and hasn’t played a snap on the offensive side of the ball since the Bears’ Thanksgiving Day win against the Detroit Lions. In fact, White has more run-blocking snaps (64) than receiving snaps (60) and that tells you all you need to know about how far the 2015 first-round pick’s stock has fallen. But it doesn’t mean White’s star has necessarily burned out.

The Bears could use Week 17 as an open audition for White, who still has speed and has shown a willingness (and excellence) as a run-blocker. Perhaps Sunday marks the time to reward White for staying healthy and plowing ahead as a blocker by tossing him some offensive snaps as a pass-catching target.

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Javon Wims

Wims has been a forgotten man of sorts. He has played just nine offensive snaps in three games and didn’t even pull down a catch or garner a target in limited action. But Wims starred in the preseason and was viewed as a player who was more talented than his status as seventh-round draft pick would suggest. A mid-November knee injury slowed Wims down and he really hasn’t been heard from since. So is a return in the cards if Robinson can’t give it a go on Sunday?

If Wims is healthy, there might be a better case to give him a dozen or so offensive snaps instead of White. Wims is more likely to have a long-term future with the Bears and Week 17 could provide an opportunity to give a draft pick some shine in a game that isn’t pressure-packed. And should the Bears decide to pull it back and rest their starters, Wims would make sense as a top target for backup quarterback Chase Daniel. Hey, it’s worked before!

Outside-of-the-Box Thinking

One of the most encouraging things I have seen from Head Coach Matt Nagy has been his ability to work well with what he has been handed. The Bears have been rolling with four active wide receivers and you probably wouldn’t have noticed if you didn’t know any better. That’s because the Bears use a mix of tight ends and running backs in roles traditionally reserved for receivers. The team has been stressing the importance of that type of versatility since before training camp and it really has paid off all season long.

If the Bears play it straight up – meaning they play to win and not rest players – with Robinson out, then you can expect running backs Tarik Cohen and Taquan Mizzell Sr. to continue getting time split out wide where receivers tend to line up. But they likely won’t be the only non-receivers acting like wideouts on Sunday if that’s the case. Tight ends Ben Braunecker and Daniel Brown could both be wide receiver options. Big-bodied players who have experience running patterns could be used differently in the season finale than what we have grown accustomed to seeing. If anything, it’s just one more wrinkle to throw at whichever team(s) opposes the Bears in the postseason.

The Big Three (Plus One)

If Robinson is out, the burden of catching passes from Mitch Trubisky will fall on the shoulders of Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, Joshua Bellamy, and Trey Burton. That’s three wide receivers and a tight end who lines up essentially as a slot receiver quite often. Gabriel and Miller have had games where each has put up big numbers catching balls from Trubisky, while Bellamy has had his moments with QB1 (back to when both were buried on their respective depth charts in 2017).

Burton is the X-factor here. He had a mid-season lull where he averaged 3.3 targets and 20.5 receiving yards during a six game stretch, but has averaged 5.7 targets in three games since Trubisky returned to the starting lineup. Trubisky owns a 113.7 passer rating and 71.4 percent completion rate when targeting Burton this season, so it would make sense if his production ticks up if Robinson can’t play.

In previous years, the Bears being without WR1 would be problematic to the point where we’d be combing the waiver wire to see what able-bodied pass-catchers are available. But GM Ryan Pace re-worked the room in the offseason so much that we don’t have to deal with that kind of nonsense. Because, frankly, you don’t really want to be diving into the free agency pool days before Week 17 kicks off.

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Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.