Desperate times call for desperate measures. For the Chicago Bears, it’ll be a series of desperate video calls on Zoom in an effort to build chemistry between rookie quarterback Justin Fields and his cast of wide receivers.
Allen Robinson was direct and to the point earlier this week when he addressed what’s gone wrong with the Bears’ passing offense and why he hasn’t been putting up the numbers his career resume suggests he should be. “There weren’t many snaps we took throughout training camp,” he said Tuesday when discussing the chemistry between him and Fields. Instead, Robinson was catching passes from Andy Dalton over the summer, which even at the time seemed like, well, a waste. Now seven games into the regular season, Robinson’s managed just 23 catches for 250 yards and one touchdown.
Fields acknowledged Wednesday that his rhythm with Robinson needs to improve. But he added that it’s not just an issue with Robinson. Instead, it’s a problem that needs fixing with all of the wide receivers.
“Me, him, and some other receivers are going to start meeting on Zoom by ourselves and kind of start getting our own thing together,” Fields said from Halas Hall.
While Zoom has become something of a new normal for communication and teamwork during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s difficult imagining a scenario in which a video call will help Fields know the timing and style of Robinson’s breaks or the subtle stops and starts of Darnell Mooney when he’s setting up defensive backs. That kind of chemistry is best built on the field, and while a Zoom call is better than nothing, it’s unlikely it’ll bear much fruit either.
“Obviously [Fields] wants to win,” Mooney said Wednesday. “We want to win as well. So I mean, chemistry takes a long time to build up. But we’re trying to speed up the process, get it to where we need it to be right now. That’s the thing we’re working on.”
It’s been tough sledding for Fields so far through five starts. He’s completing just 57.3% of his passes and has thrown only two touchdowns compared to six interceptions. He hasn’t made much happen with his legs, either, as he’s managed 140 yards and one touchdown with a long of 16 yards on the ground.
Fields appeared to have a strong chemistry building with Mooney earlier in the season, including a Week 4 game in which he targeted the second-year wideout seven times resulting in five completions for 125 yards. Mooney’s managed just 119 yards in the three games since, however. It’s been even worse for Robinson, who hasn’t had a game with more than 63 receiving yards in 2021. He’s totaled 35 yards or less in five of the seven games played so far.
Whether it’s Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp, or even smoke signals, Fields and the Bears’ pass-catchers need to get on the same page and it needs to happen quickly. Otherwise, the season will be lost sooner than later, and much of the blame will be placed directly on this group for failing to produce at or even near preseason expectations.