Chicago Bears: Crafting the Pro Bowl case for Allen Robinson

Chicago Bears (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson deserves his second Pro Bowl nod this season.

Seven weeks (and six losses) ago, the idea of discussing the Chicago Bears and players’ individual cases for Pro Bowl honors would have been unimportant. At that time, Chicago owned a 5-1 record, and — even if only slightly — had to have been thinking about a different type of Bowl game.

With their Playoff chances dwindling down to a mere 19 percent, it turns out, the Pro Bowl might be as fulfilling as it gets for the Bears’ top stars this season.

A lot has changed since October. But if there’s one player that has remained a hallmark of consistency, Allen Robinson has been the one. He’s endured both multiple quarterbacks and play-callers. One look at his week-to-week statistics, though, and you wouldn’t know it. Consider his side-by-side numbers with both.

QB Comparison, Totals:
Trubisky: 58 targets | 37 catches | 448 yards | 3 TDs | 7 GMs
Foles: 70 targets | 49 catches | 579 yards | 3 TDs | 6 GMs

Because of that unwavering focus regardless of the situation, Robinson has positioned himself to become the third Bear in NFL history with a 100-catch season (on pace for 106) and accompany himself with the NFC’s premier receivers.

For those in need of a refresher, only four wide receivers in each conference make the Pro Bowl. Historically, injury-replacements are needed, which allows a fringe top-five receiver to sneak in. Here’s where Robinson ranks among the NFC.

1,027 yards — No. 6 (behind Metcalf, Hopkins, Adams, Jefferson, Ridley)
86 catches — No. 3 (behind Hopkins, Adams)
128 targets — No. 1
6 touchdowns — tied for No. 19
86.6 PFF grade — No. 5 (behind Adams, Thielen, Jefferson, Hopkins)

So, we’re discussing a player that, with ideal play-calling and quarterbacking, isn’t too far off from No. 1. Excluding Metcalf, Hopkins, and Adams, Robinson has a case for being at least the NFC’s No. 4 receiver. It also helps that one of Metcalf, Hopkins, or Adams could be in the Super Bowl.

Regardless, his numbers warrant enough to earn his second Pro Bowl nod and maybe more importantly a contract. Here’s the case.

The Chicago Bears have had moderate success finding a consistent “Z’ receiver this year. Sometimes, fifth-rounder Darnell Mooney plays the role, and at others, we’ve seen Anthony Miller take it on. Regardless, both have benefitted from the gravity Allen Robinson creates.

It’s certainly a telltale sign of an elite receiver, when they’re creating for others, and still producing.

A season ago, Robinson saw double coverage and brackets at one of the highest rates since its tracking. While that number has likely dropped this season, defensive backs still view Robinson with the utmost respect. Here’s one example.

Bunch formations against man coverage are a nightmare in general for defenses. Receivers can set “picks,” or run crossing routes that cause confusion. On this one with Robinson, notice how Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (No. 22) plays inside leverage, forcing Robinson outside.

This limits his route tree, but the sheer threat of Robinson catching a pass has Janoris Jenkins (No. 20) on a backpedal, and that hesitation leads to a Mooney score.

That fear would’ve been justified. Allen Robinson’s 79.3 success rate vs. man coverage was No. 1 in the red zone in 2019.

It’s become a trend. Robinson’s greatest trait might be his ability to find the soft spots within any zone coverage or catches at the highest point. But just as important, he occupies spots and takes defenders away, which opens up targets for others — a gravitational pull.

Allen Robinson has also done his fair share of dirty work that doesn’t show on the box score. He’s no Cooper Kupp in this regard, but he’s been in on a number of blocks that generated wins for Chicago.

Pair that with the statistics we do hear of often — he’s one of only two players with 100+ targets and no drops, and tops the league in contested catches — and you quietly have one of the NFL’s most all-around wideouts. And one deserving of a Pro Bowl nod.

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It remains unclear as to if the Chicago Bears will give him his just due with a contract. But perhaps it’ll take the National Football League as a whole to show them what they would be missing out on.