Bears Season Awards: Eddie Royal Was Bears Least Valuable Player

May 27, 2015; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Eddie Royal (19) during organized team activities at the Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
May 27, 2015; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Eddie Royal (19) during organized team activities at the Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

Welcome back Bears fans.  In part 2 of the Bears Season Awards we will take a look at the Least Valuable Bear in 2015.  In the first installment I named Jay Cutler as the Bears MVP for 2015.  When searching for the Least Valuable Player on the Bears for the 2015 season, it would be easy to choose a fringe player on the roster who didn’t contribute much or anything on Sundays.  That my friends would be taking the easy way out.  So let me explain why Eddie Royal was the Bears Least Valuable Player for the 2015 season.

“After averaging 12.5 yards per reception last year with the Chargers, he averaged just 6.4 yards this season with the Bears.”

The Least Valuable Bear had to be a player who came into the season with high or at least moderate expectations.  An undrafted rookie, say

Harold Jones-Quartey

for example, wasn’t expected to come in and produce at all heading into preseason.  The fact that he started games for Chicago this year means he exceeded expectations, even if he hadn’t played as well as he ended up playing.  So factors such as expectations, contract, and obviously performance were key in coming to a decision.

Chicago Bears - Robbie Gould
Jan 3, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears kicker Robbie Gould (9) greets fans as he leaves the field after the Detroit Lions beat the Chicago Bears 24-20 at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports /

Now I know what you’re thinking, and before I tell you to stop I must admit my mind quickly went there as well: Gould.  Robbie “Fool’s” Gould broke all of our hearts this season, something we were not used to him doing.  Unfortunately Chicago, Robbie’s resume holds up… and while those missed 4th quarter kicks were unacceptable, let’s be happy they happened during a season where the playoffs were not seemingly in the cards.

In-fact Gould improved on all of his statistics from his injury plagued 2014 season, so he’s not the most fitting candidate for this award.  And I mean c’mon, he’s a Kicker guys.  So without further adieu, standing out among all others in a category where I’m sure he would rather not be mentioned… Eddie Royal.

Eddie Royal was signed to a 3-year deal by G.M. Ryan Pace in his inaugural season at the helm.  The vision for the Royal signing was a reuniting with Jay Cutler, the two had previously enjoyed great success together in their rookie seasons in Denver.

Eddie had proven himself more recently in San Diego, coming off of an impressive 62-catch, 778-yard, 7-touchdown season.  The Bears figured to have Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White, and Eddie Royal at the Wide Receiver position heading into training camp, with the added depth of Marques Wilson.

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  • Injuries continually changed the makeup and outlook of the Bears offense.  All 3 of the Bears top receivers missed multiple games this season, with Kevin White failing to register a single snap.

    As a result of these injuries Jay Cutler was forced to rely on secondary targets throughout the course of the season, but where there is injury there is also opportunity.  Eddie Royal was unable to ever get it going this season, which certainly had many contributing factors to it.  Royal finished the season with 37-catches, 238-yards, and 1-touchdown.

    A closer look at the numbers reveals a lot of troubling things about Eddie Royal’s season, and the Bears 15-million dollar guarantee to the man over the offseason.  Most importantly, Eddie was one of a number of Bears who was hampered by injury throughout the season.  Royal played in 9 games, but in one of those games he failed to surpass 15 snaps on the field.

    As a mainstay on the injury report, it was clear that he was hampered by injury throughout the season.  The Bears must do a better job of keeping their talent on the field in 2016, and if Eddie Royal doesn’t want to have his contract with the Bears considered a bust, than he needs to whatever possible to keep himself healthy next season.

    Perhaps just as troubling as the injuries to Royal, were the ways in which he was utilized by the Bears this season.  After averaging 12.5 yards per reception last year with the Chargers, he averaged just 6.4 yards this season with the Bears.  Let me repeat that.  Eddie Royal averaged 6.4 yards per reception this season.  While his skillset certainly includes the ability to catch a screen and get up-field, that is not all the 8-year veteran is capable of.  Especially considering the injuries to the outside receivers Jeffery and White, the opportunity to let Royal run downfield routes was there.

    Can Eddie Royal Turn It Around in 2016?

    Chicago Bears - Eddie Royal
    Sep 20, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Eddie Royal (19) on the sideline during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

    It’s difficult to blame a receiver for such a low yardage (238) output when he is not being put in the best position to succeed.  That’s not necessarily a knock on Adam Gase either, who clearly had much success this season.  It does however reflect a new coaching staff and offensive system that is still working out the kinks.

    Moving into year 2 with the same coaching staff and an internal promotion at Offensive Coordinator, Coach Dowell Loggains must utilize Eddie Royal more successfully than his predecessor.  Royal needs to be able to spread his wings so-to-speak.  The offense needs to have him stretch the field at times, not because he is the best jump ball receiver on the Bears, but because opposing cornerbacks need to know they have to defend the full route tree against the shifty Chicago slot receiver.

    Royal should also benefit from more talent around him in 2016.  An offense moving into year 2 of a system typically grows as continuity breeds consistency.  In the Bears case they will also benefit from the return of healthy weapons around Cutler.

    If Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White are healthy on the outside, than there will be plenty of room to work inside for Eddie Royal.  And that makes no mention of the dangerous Chicago tight ends.

    If Chicago becomes more creative in the ways that they use Royal, than there is no doubt that he can revert to form and put up some impressive numbers in 2016.  If the Bears stick to the current script than Eddie and fans alike will probably look back at this season and next with regret.