Bears 2018 position review: Receiver

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The following is the third of eight position reviews of the Bears’ 2018 season.

It’s hard to imagine a position group in the NFL that improved more from one season to the next than the Bears receivers in 2018.

During the offseason, general manager Ryan Pace completely revamped the position, signing Allen Robinson II and Taylor Gabriel in free agency and trading up in the second round of the draft to select Anthony Miller with the 51st overall pick.

The three new receivers played a key role in helping the Bears win the NFC North title with a 12-4 record and score at least 24 points in 11 games, their most since they also tallied at least 24 points 11 times in 1995.

Robinson led the Bears in receiving yards with 754 while catching 55 passes, including four touchdowns in 13 games. He had a season-high 10 receptions for 83 yards in a Week 2 win over the Seahawks and caught six passes for a season-high 133 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 10 victory over the Lions. 

“He goes up, gets the football, creates separation,” quarterback Mitchell Trubisky said of Robinson. “He can make those acrobatic catches that we haven’t seen here in the past. He can separate with speed. He’s physical, he runs great routes.”

Robinson had a monster game in the Bears’ playoff loss to the Eagles, establishing a franchise postseason receiving record with 143 yards and tying Matt Forte’s team mark set in the 2010 NFC title game with 10 receptions.

“He’s a weapon,” offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said about Robinson during the season. “He’s kind of been there, done that. He’s a very calming presence in a lot of ways. He’s just a confident guy. He knows everybody’s job. He can help those other guys line up at times, guys that don’t know the system as well as he does. He’s a security blanket-type presence for the quarterback.”

Gabriel had 67 receptions for 688 yards and two TDs. He produced a pair of 100-yard games, catching seven passes for 104 yards and his only two touchdowns in a Week 4 win over the Buccaneers and five passes for 110 yards—including gains of 54 and 47 yards—in a Week 6 loss to the Dolphins.

Miller led the Bears with seven touchdown receptions, the second most by an NFL rookie behind only the Falcons’ Calvin Ridley, who had 10. The seven TDs were the most by a Bears rookie since Willie Gault had eight in 1983.

Miller caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from running back Tarik Cohen on a gadget play as time expired in regulation to force overtime Dec. 2 against the Giants.

Fourth receiver Joshua Bellamy had 14 receptions for 117 yards and one touchdown. He also made a clutch 34-yard catch of a Trubisky pass in the Bears’ playoff loss to the Eagles to set up the offense’s only touchdown of the game.

Other receivers who contributed in 2018 included veteran Kevin White (4 catches for 92 yards) and rookie seventh-round pick Javon Wims (4-32).

Robinson remains under contract through 2020; Gabriel, Miller and Wims are signed through 2021; and White and Bellamy are due to become free agents in March.

Senior writer Larry Mayer ranks the 10 Bears players most likely to be voted to the Pro Bowl in 2019 after NOT making it this past season.

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