It’s Time for Alshon Jeffery to Man Up


You don’t know what to believe when it comes to Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.  He’s been a little more than a rumor throughout the preseason and into the season.  He suited up in the Bears’ Week 1 matchup against the Green Bay Packers, catching five passes for 78 yards.  Since then, the only time he’s stepped between the white lines in any noteworthy way was to throw out the first pitch at the Cubs game:

I say noteworthy because Alshon Jeffery was too injured to make the trip to Seattle for the Bears’ thumping at the hands of the Seahawks.  Obviously throwing out the first pitch at a baseball game is different from buckling up the chin strap to play an NFL game but the optics aren’t great.

There are a lot of rumors around Jeffery.  There was the one about him not wanting to play unless he’s 100% because he’s afraid that sub par stats in a contract year could hurt his market value.  That could make sense, but doesn’t sitting out look worse?  No one increased their market value on the sidelines!

The latest rumor swirling around is that Jeffery is simply unhappy since his mentor and training partner Brandon Marshall was traded away to the New York Jets last offseason:

If Jeffery has gone into a shell because his best friend moved away, it’s time to go back to elementary school.

People (OK, internet tough guys like Maurice Jones-Drew) questioned Jay Cutler‘s toughness going back to the NFC Championship game following the 2010 season.  But Cutler has returned from a torn hamstring after missing just one game.  And Cutler has performed remarkably well on a bum wheel without the benefit of a seasoned NFL wide receiver to overcome a two-touchdown deficit to beat the Chiefs in Arrowhead Stadium.  Can you imagine what Cutler could do if Jeffery were on the field for that game against the Chiefs?  No knock on the emerging talents of Marquess Wilson and Cameron Meredith, but they’re not on Jeffery’s level.  And if they are, why do the Bears need Alshon?

Jeffery missed six games in his rookie season of 2012 due to a couple of minor injuries but since, he’s appeared in all sixteen games the last couple of seasons.  He battled through a sore hamstring against the 49ers in Week 2 of last season and it was clear he wasn’t a full go, but he gutted it out and was able to contribute to a surprising Bears upset win.

Now the Bears have a unique opportunity heading into their Week 6 matchup in Detroit.  The team that started with an 0-3 record that appeared to be even worse than that has a chance to get to their Bye with a .500 record if they can get past the 0-5 tire fire known as the Lions.  With a second half schedule that eases up a bit, the Bears can make a move toward respectability.

If you’re frustrated with Jeffery’s absence, you’re not the only one.  Bears head coach John Fox feels the same way:

"“Anytime players get injured, there’s a frustration level,” Fox said. “There’s a frustration level on their side, there’s a frustration level on the coaches’ side. The reality is it’s part of the game. Faith and patience are part of everything.”"

Selfishly, Jeffery needs to show this regime that he’s a team guy and he’s a valuable asset worthy of a hefty contract extension.  GM Ryan Pace invested a high first round draft pick on wide receiver Kevin White.  White suffered a stress fracture that required surgery and sits on the PUP list with his 2015 season in doubt.  In a perfect world, the Bears passing attack has Jeffery on one side and White on the other, but with the emergence of Marquess Wilson and Cameron Meredith in Jeffery’s absence, the Bears might decide that Jeffery is expendable.

I’m not sure why Jeffery continues to miss games.  Maybe he’s a slow healer?  Maybe the injuries are worse than we’ve been led to believe?  Maybe he’s not putting in the work in the training room or maybe he is trying to protect himself and his future contract?  Regardless of the circumstances, it’s time for Alshon Jeffery to man up and play!