Could Ted Ginn Jr. be the key that helps unlock the potential in the Chicago Bears‘ receiving corps? According to NFL insider Adam Caplan, the Bears may be counting on the veteran wideout to provide an essential component to the group that it previously lacked: speed. And while Ginn being speedy is not exactly news, Caplan also revealed the team’s plans for both Ginn and rookie Darnell Mooney in his weekly column — which will in turn affect the likes of Allen Robinson, Anthony Miller and Tarik Cohen.
The Bears are stacked at wideout currently. In addition to Robinson, Miller, Ginn and Mooney, there’s All-Pro kickoff returner and play-maker extraordinaire Cordarrelle Patterson, 2019 fourth-round pick Riley Ridley and third-year Georgia product Javon Wims, one of whom is very likely not going to make the cut this year. There’s also Reggie Davis, Ahmad Wagner, Trevor Davis, Thomas Ives and Alex Wesley, a few of whom will make up the team’s practice squad.
Here’s what Caplan and his sources had to say about Chicago’s future at wideout with Ginn now in the picture:
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Ginn Will Start; Mooney Will Be His Back-Up
Noting the Bears’ offensive regression in 2019, Caplan says he has gotten confirmation about how the Bears plan to use Ginn in 2020: as the starting ‘Z’ receiver.
“The Bears offense regressed a bit last season after bursting on the scene in head coach Matt Nagy’s first season in 2018,” Caplan wrote. “While veteran WR Allen Robinson had a terrific season in 2019 (98-1147-7 TD), teams that played against the Bears said it wasn’t hard to defend them due to the lack of speed on offense. Other than RB Tarik Cohen, the Bears didn’t come into this off-season with anyone that teams really had to worry about, which is why they added veteran WR Ted Ginn. Ginn, who turned 35 in April, will likely be the team’s starting “Z” receiver, I’m told. The former first-round pick, now in his 14th season, signed 1-year, $1.1875m deal with $887,500 fully guaranteed at signing.”
Caplan also mentioned rookie wideout Darnell Mooney as someone to watch out for speed-wise. “One player who could factor down the line is 5th-round pick Darnell Mooney. The rookie out of Tulane, who posted a very solid 40-yard dash time (4.38) during the NFL Combine, can ‘flat out fly, according to a personnel source. He projects to play the “Z” position, the source said.”
Ginn & Mooney Can Open Things Up for Robinson & Miller
If either Ginn or Mooney can become a threat utilizing their speed, that will take some pressure off Robinson, who is and will remain the team’s No. 1 wideout. Taylor Gabriel was fast, and showed flashes of big-play ability, but he had too much bad luck with injuries, and wasn’t on the field enough to become a threat on a consistent basis. Matt Nagy and receivers coach Mike Furrey would love a consistent deep threat to open things up underneath for Robinson and Miller. Both Ginn and Mooney meet that criteria.
Health will be key, but if Ginn should fall to injury, it will be up to rookie Mooney to become the team’s speedy deep threat. Early word says Mooney will be up to the challenge, but if both he and Ginn can stay healthy, the Bears could have a bevy of speedsters — especially when you add running back Tarik Cohen, who had 725 receiving yards in 2018. Cohen also took a major step back in 2020, and is looking to rebound this year. Not being the fastest person on offense may also open things up for Cohen, who Nagy could start being a bit more creative with in terms of adding more slants and screens.
Miller, who was 13th in the NFL in snaps from the slot receiver position in 2019, could also benefit from a reliable speedster in the lineup. Miller has been deceptively effective on corner and bending routes, against both zone and man coverage. While Chicago has primarily used him in the slot, per The Draft Network’s Benjamin Solak, 17.3% of Miller’s total targets came from deep routes last season even though he caught 50 percent of the deep balls thrown his way. If opposing teams begin to cue in on Ginn and/or Mooney, look for Miller’s role as a deep threat to increase, as well.