Chicago Bears: How Does WR Eddie Royal Fit in?


While it is not the massive transition that the defensive is going through, the offense for the Chicago Bears will look much different this season. Under almost an entire new coaching staff led by head coach John Fox, these Bears will look different from anything else we have seen in the past.

Taking over the offense will be offensive coordinator Adam Gase, who followed Fox from the Denver Broncos. Only 37-years-old, Gase is considered one of the brightest young offensive minds in the entire game, and he has been a major candidate for many recent head coaching jobs. Under Gase, the Bears’ offense is in very good hands.

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While the scheme on both sides of the ball will look much different, for the most part, we will see mostly the same faces on the field. Jay Cutler, Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery and Kyle Long all return to lead the offense, but there are plenty of newcomers who will also make an impact.

Seventh overall pick Kevin White has an incredible skill-set at WR , and he will look to make some noise in his rookie year. Fourth round pick Jeremy Langford is a talented running back who could make some serious noise this season, and especially going forward. The most impactful free offensive free agent addition? Veteran wide receiver Eddie Royal, who the Bears signed to a three-year, $15 million contract this off season.

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Royal is a seven-year NFL veteran who joins the Bears after spending the last three seasons with the San Diego Chargers. He is an extremely quick and shifty receiver who does a majority of his damage out of the slot. Royal is one of those players who simply has a knack for getting open.

At 5-foot-10, 182 pounds, he is not going to win many fights for the ball in the air, but Royal uses his quickness and athleticism to put himself in a position to succeed on a regular basis.

Royal is coming off of two of his most successful seasons in the NFL. He was forgotten by most around the league before he emerged back on the radar in 2013 with 47 receptions for 631 yards and eight touchdowns in only three games started. Royal built on his success from 2013 with a 62-catch, 778-yard and seven-touchdown performance last season.

The Chargers were able to use Royal’s quickness out of the slot effectively, especially in the red zone, where he seemed to do a majority of his damage.

In Gase’s first year being an NFL offensive coordinator with the Broncos in 2013, his offense put up historic numbers. Peyton Manning may have had something to do with it, but to set the NFL record for most points scored in a season during his debut as an offensive coordinator is mightily impressive.

One of the best weapons in the Broncos’ arsenal that season was slot receiver Wes Welker. Similar to Royal, Welker uses his elite quickness and field awareness to made plays in the short passing game out of the slot. Under the guidance of Gase in 2013, Welker caught 73 passes for 778 yard and 10 touchdowns.

Dec 1, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Denver Broncos wide receiver Wes Welker (83) runs the ball as Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers (24) attempts the tackle during the first half of the game at Arrowhead Stadium. Denver won 35-28. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Gase did an incredible job of finding ways to get Welker the ball in space. Using natural “rub” plays, drags, slants, quick outs, basically all of the short routes you can think of. Welker was nearly unstoppable that season, and I could see Gase trying to use Royal the same way.

Long before the days of Fox, Gase, Manning and Welker, Royal was actually drafted by the Broncos. He was a second-round selection (42nd overall) by the team in the 2008 NFL Draft, and he was able to make an immediate impact.

In fact, Royal’s best NFL season came as a rookie with the Broncos. Doing a majority of his work out of the slot, Royal brought in 91 receptions for 980 yards and five touchdowns in his rookie campaign. The Broncos quarterback who threw for a still career-best 4,526 yards during Royal’s rookie season? None other current Bears’ signal caller Jay Cutler.

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The Broncos traded Cutler to the Bears that off season, so 2008 was his and Royal’s only season together. Now, I am not saying that Royal will automatically get back to hauling in 90 receptions this season, but he has been in the NFL for six years since that season, and he has never come close to putting up those reception and yardage totals again.

Is it a coincidence that 2008 was clearly the best season of Royal’s career? Maybe, but it could easily also be that he and Cutler have a strong rapport in the passing game.

In Jeffery, White and tight end Martellus Bennett, the Bears have plenty of big receivers. Royal brings a much-different skill-set to the table that should fit in well with the Bears’ offense. Between that, the likely rapport with Cutler and Gase’s success with a very similar receiver in the past, Royal could become a huge impact player for the Bears next season.

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