Getting to Know New Bears Return Specialist Jakeem Grant: Career Stats, Highlights, Fit, History, More

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Getting to Know New Bears Return Specialist Jakeem Grant: Career Stats, Highlights, Fit, History, More

Chicago Bears

Save for Cordarrelle Patterson’s two-year stint in Chicago, the Bears’ return game has left us wanting more. Maybe we feel this way as Bears fans because they have been spoiling us from a special teams standpoint. Let’s face it. Between Devin Hester, Jerry Azumah, Danieal Manning, Glyn Milburn, and Patterson, my generation of Bears fans have been lucky to see some great ones. So when the return game isn’t up to par, it stands out.

Perhaps, with that in mind, the Bears sent a future draft consideration to the Dolphins for Jakeem Grant. Or maybe the team knows it needs to be better on the margins. And one area for potential improvement is in special teams. So let’s get to know the newest new guy.

Previous free agents: Andy Dalton, Desmond Trufant, Elijah Wilkinson, Angelo Blackson, Damien Williams

Player, Age (in 2021), Position

Jakeem Grant, 28, wide receiver/kick returner/punt returner

Nickname: Mighty Mouse

Measurables

5-7, 171 pounds

OK, now I understand where the “Mighty Mouse” moniker comes from regarding Grant’s nickname above.

Performance

2020 stats (14 games)

29 punt returns, 330 yards, 1 TD (11.4 yards/return); 6 kick returns 129 yards

36 catches (54 targets), 373 receiving guards, 1 TD; 3 rushes 20 yards

Career stats (70 games with the Dolphins from 2016-21)

101 punt returns, 978 yards, 3 TD (9.7 yards/return); 89 kick returns, 2,206 yards, 2 TD (24.8 yards/return)

Accomplishments: Had the NFL’s longest kick return touchdown in 2018 at 102 yards:

PFF grades: 70.9 (2020), 62.1 (2019), 70.5 (2018), 70.7 (2017), 40.2 (2016)

Highlights

Someone Get the New Guy a History Book

Remember, friends: You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you’ve been. With that in mind, in addition to the Bears’ playbook, someone should catch Grant up with this franchise’s history:

Stay what you want, I appreciate the honesty.

He Said It

Back in 2019, Grant told the South Florida Sun Sentine’s Safid Deen that he desires to emulate the all-time greats:

“I remember watching, I think it was the Super Bowl when Devin Hester ran it back. I just said, I’m going to do that. I got to the league and I never played punt return ever in my life. But I always watched Devin Hester and Dante Hall do it, and it’s a lot harder doing it than watching them do it. When I got out there, I had a few hiccups. Then next thing you know, I started getting good at it.”

“I’m trying to be the best in the league in this. I just go out there every practice and try to be the best. I’m trying to be the best in the league in kickoff, punt return, and everything I do.”

If you’re going to shoot, remind yourself to aim for the moon. Because if you miss, it’s OK because you’ll land among the stars.

Did You Know?

The Fit

At first, it was a struggle to understand why the Bears would send future draft capital to the Dolphins for a kick returner. But sitting down and thinking about it for an extended period helps make sense of things. At least on some level.

Firstly, the Bears defense is good. So, when your defense is solid, it can help in winning the field position battle. So can a good return ace. Teaming the two should put Justin Fields in a better position to be successful. Working on short fields after defensive stops and strong returns could do wonders for this offense (and the rookie leading the group). And at the cost of a future pick that might not convey until 2023, this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker.

On the other hand, that Chicago felt it was necessary to make such a move suggests the Bears don’t think Tarik Cohen will be back any time soon. In 2018, Cohen was a first-team All-Pro returner. And before suffering a season-ending ACL injury, Cohen was positioning himself for a bounce back season. Unfortunately, the injury cut his season short and he hasn’t been able to get back on the playing field. So it makes sense to go after a return specialist with Cohen out. No need to rush back a player who signed a multi-year extension last year.

Grant figures to fill in the return specialist role in Cohen’s absence. But I’m also here for using Grant in a gadget capacity:

https://twitter.com/NFLFrance/status/1196169073786269698

Then again, maybe the offense should nail down the basics before getting too tricky.



Author: Luis Medina

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