Chicago Bears Film Review: Grading Javon Wims

How did Javon Wims look in his time on the field for the Chicago Bears this year?

The Chicago Bears season did not go the way that many had planned. Injuries stacked up, and regression followed for what feels like a lost year. However, towards the end of the year, a Taylor Gabriel injury gave the team a long look at Javon Wims.

Wims was a seventh-round pick in 2018 who caught four passes as a rookie. However, he shuffled in much more as a second-year player.

In 2019 Wims put up 18 receptions for 186 yards and a touchdown. However, that came on 39 targets, resulting in 21 incompletions. His 186 receiving yards on 463 air yards is one of the lower rates in the NFL.

What were the issues? Was Mitch Trubisky off, or was he not hauling the passes? Were the positives of his receptions worth investing in next year?

Uncatchable passes

To start, there a majority of passes his direction that just were flat out uncatchable. Whether Mitch Trubisky was throwing the ball away, or missed altogether, on 36% of his targets were uncatchable.

An example would be the play below. Wims is lined up on the outside at the bottom. He turns the cornerback around with a nice route and runs into the open field in stride. However, Mitch Trubisky was under pressure and threw bad pass plenty short for an interception.

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Another example would be the play below. Wims is working out of the slot. He is over the slot defender and under the safety, but the pass sailed over his head. He was open in both examples, and could not do much more

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Only 25 of his targets were catchable for Wims, although four were arguably catchable but were situations where the quarterbacks pass forced a great play on the ball.

So, what was the reasoning for the seven other failed targets?

Drops

Wims had two flat out drops. One was on a play where he flared out to the flats in motion. The ball hit him right in the hands. The other, as shown below, is Wims sitting down in a zone. However, as he is looking to turn upfield, he loses track of the ball. This is a focus drop that needs to be taken care of.

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Below is another play where the quarterback cannot be blamed for the incompletion. Wims slipped in his route and would have been open if he did not.

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Communication Issues

Drops and slipping through the route are things that need to be corrected. However, these next two plays may be the most concerning when looking at what Wims can do for the Chicago Bears moving forward.

The play below is a complete miscommunication. While I do not have access to the coaches’ playbook, it appears that Mitch Trubisky expected Wims to read the cornerback and make a choice on this route.

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If the cornerback plays outside leverage, Wims should break inside. If the cornerback is inside, he should break out.

The cornerback plays outside leverage, and you see Wims run into the corner, while Trubisky throws to a spot where nobody is there. Whether Trubisky or Wims is correct, Trubisky expected Wims to break in, and Wims broke out.

The play below is another leverage and understanding issue. Wims is running a sit route in zone out of the slot. It seems he should be reading 34, Andrew Sendejo, on this route. 34 is to the outside, but again you see Wims sit in the zone and take a quick step to the outside. However, Trubisky throws the pass to the middle of the field.

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Trubisky expects Wims to keep running to free space because of where Sendejo is positioned. Considering both situations are the same communication issue, it makes it easier to assume Trubisky made the right read, and Wims was not there.

This is going to be the biggest question to fix for Wims because we know Trubisky has a mighty short leash right now, and if he does not trust Wims to be in the right spot, Wims will not be on the field.

Contested Catches

Lastly, we have these two contested-catch situations. You can be the judge in both cases. Wims has a chance to haul both passes in, and some of the stronger, more reliable receivers will. On top of that, Wims is supposed to be a contested-catch winner. Despite that, he had a below-average contested catch rate, mainly thanks to plays like these.

Still, these are two tough catch opportunities

These are plays that can make up for the communication issues. However, if he is not making these tough catches either, he cannot be trusted.

Positives

There are positives in the game for Wims. As you saw in the two misses by Trubisky highlighted earlier, Wims has been able to create separation down the field. The route against the Giants that led to an interception was a great job of manipulating leverage and spinning the corner around.

Below, he runs a double move that stops the cornerback and gets him separation to the sideline. You also can see Wims adjust to the ball in the air and make a play for 37 yards, his biggest gain of the year.

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Wims also showed well below extending the play and creating an option for Mitch Trubisky in the scramble drill. Watch as he turns to see Trubisky roll to the sideline. Wims turns towards the sideline and shows his hand to him. Trubisky trusts his man and hits him for a significant gain.

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Wims also did show well sitting in zone more than the miscommunication shown above. He caught four passes for 46 yards by sitting in the soft spot of the zone.

Conclusions

It is a small sample size, and the uncatchable passes make it smaller. However, coming in, it was clear that Wims was not a dynamic option. Still, he was expected to be a player who could be relied on and could help with contested catches.

His questions in these two areas will bring up bigger long term questions. Understanding the nuances of the game and making the small plays that turn up big are what earn your quarterbacks trust. Right now, he does not have that from Trubisky.

Wims has shown promise as a route runner, extending plays, and using his size to post-up and make catches. However, heading into year three, it will be hard to trust that he is ready to take a step forward and be consistently relied on player. For now, the team has to look at him as a complementary piece with the potential for more.

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