When it comes to the little things that help big things happen, few are as satisfying as watching receivers block downfield.
Whether it is a chip here, a blast there, or helping on a double-team elsewhere, I always find it amusing when those little pieces of a puzzle come together to make a beautiful image.
And then there’s this, which lives on the opposite end of the spectrum:
— BuffLlama (@JayDizzyD) December 13, 2021
The optics here are awful. Full stop.
At the start of the frame, we have rookie quarterback Justin Fields running with cracked ribs trying to will a 4-8 team out of the abyss in prime-time against a rival that claims ownership of his squad. But at the end of it is Allen Robinson II, who appears checked out during a play in the midst of a competitive game. This one brief clip is a memorable snapshot. I remember seeing it live thinking: I hope this isn’t what I think it is. And with each re-watch, it looks worse. And while I’ll fall short of publicly saying a player tanked a play in front of a teammate, that isn’t stopping others.
As one might expect, Bears fans aren’t having it:
The moment the entire Bears fan base turned on Allen Robinson https://t.co/XIB7PEjtbX
— Worth The Friendly Village (@Oakforest72) December 13, 2021
Allen Robinson gives up on what looks like an easy block, could have resulted in a Fields TD. https://t.co/oWPLfT0pRw
— Bears Nation (4-9) (@BearsNationCHI) December 13, 2021
GFY A-Rob. pic.twitter.com/rjyKQlmUxe
— Juan (@BearsFanatico94) December 13, 2021
In the interest of fairness, Robinson was in his first game back after missing a month with a hamstring injury. So maybe rust that formed due to lack of reps was a factor. And it’s not as if Robinson has eyes in the back of his head. So it is impossible to know what is happening behind him. But watching how the Packers defender fights to disengage, then position himself to strike a blow to Fields before the QB steps out of bounds was an eye-opening moment. At best, what we saw from Robinson in that moment was a reminder of how to never give up on a play. And it works for both sides of the ball, too. One never knows when a play will come their direction, even if the design doesn’t intend to head that way. So keep fighting through until the whistle blows.
Earlier in the season, we saw what it looks like when a play that wasn’t designed to come to the back side does. And we saw that happens when players keep plowing through:
I can’t get enough of the sky cam angle on Justin Fields’ TD run. pic.twitter.com/R9qaGEbTJH
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) November 1, 2021
It’s easy to get lost in the magic of Justin Fields’ run while watching the sky cam angle. But it is impossible to not notice Darnell Mooney and Jason Peters re-engaging on the back-side of the play and delivering key blocks on what would turn into a touchdown run. Having experienced this, what we saw with Robinson can’t happen last night. Not in prime-time with everyone watching. And not ever.
Heck, Robinson – himself – should know better. Because we *KNOW* what he can do as a down-field blocker:
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) December 13, 2020
All of this stinks. This isn’t the player we’ve grown accustomed to seeing suit up for the Bears. And Robinson definitely doesn’t look like the same player we were stumping to extend was the team’s best and most consistent receiver. Three productive seasons, including back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving campaigns catching passes from Mitchell Trubisky, Chase Daniel, and Nick Foles ending with an uninspiring 2021 is a gut punch. This is a fall from grace unlike any I’ve seen from a Bears player. And the timing couldn’t be worse, as the Bears were leaning on Fields and Robinson to build a rapport during the rookie’s on-boarding. Instead, that connection never flourished. What a shame.
Looking ahead, it’s painfully obvious Chicago needs to re-shape the receivers room again. This feels like old hat for the Bears, especially during the Ryan Pace era. And to think, there was a time when Robinson looked like he could be part of the solution. But it is growing apparent that a split could be mutually beneficial for the Bears and Robinson.