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Fast Track to Nowhere for Bears Receivers

Analysis: The speed additions made by the Bears in the offseason and just before the start of the regular season haven't exactly elevated production in the passing game.

Oh for the days of Mitchell Trubisky to Anthony Miller, or at least Miller.

Bears fans probably wouldn't want to admit it because they'd see it as a slight to rookie Justin Fields. Their passing attack was clicking much better last year at this time.

They weren't last in the league then at passing. They had contributions coming in from all receivers and they could get more than 3.25 catches per game from Allen Robinson because the ball was actually coming to him.

This is not about Fields, since he's a rookie and wasn't even being prepared to play for a while until Andy Dalton's injury forced him on the field before his time—at least what Matt Nagy perceived to be his time.

Remember the grand plan of about a month ago? The plan to populate the gridiron with guys running 4.3 or faster in the 40?

When the Bears acquired Nsimba Webster and Breshad Perriman just before the season everyone got excited about adding them to a group that already had Marquise Goodwin and Damiere Byrd. The dream sprint relay team had been born.

"With that said, we understand with the guys we've got that are up, and the other guys on practice squad, we feel like we've added some speed, " Nagy said at the time. "That's kinda the direction we wanted to go."

Perriman, in particular, was viewed as a potential big-play artist.

"First thing: speed, big time speed," GM Ryan Pace said after the signing. "We've talked about him, I feel like, every year. We've gone back and looked at our grades. We've got tons and tons of grades on him, from all of our coaches and all of our scouts. I feel like we've talked about him every year.

"That's been the one trait. He's big, he's 6-2, he can still run and that's just continuing the speed and explosiveness in this offense."

How's that all working out now? Let's just say there is no Henry Ruggs III among them.

So far Byrd is a rumor with three catches and 19 yards. Goodwin is at the top of the speedy additions. He has five catches and 55 yards but nothing the last two games.

Perriman hasn't been active for a single game.

Webster was just handed his walking papers.

Ladies and gentlemen, the 2021 class of new, speedy Bears receivers.

Could it be they were confused by the playbook?

That definitely wasn't the plan.

"I think the main thing just from my experience of being around guys is just don't confuse them, let them play," receivers coach Mike Furrey said following Perriman's signing. "Let them play, let them feel comfortable and let them play as fast as they possibly can."

Furry said Nagy's offense is anything but complicated for receivers. This year they're all supposed to learn all the routes so they can play anywhere.

Something's not working.

Last year at this time they had nine catches for 133 yards from Miller and two game-winning touchdown receptions. Mooney had 13 catches. Allen Robinson had 25 catches for 331 yards. Javon Wims, who is on the practice squad of this week's opponent, the Las Vegas Raiders, had three catches at this point last year like Byrd now.

Bears wide receivers had 60 receptions at this point last year. This year they have 38.

Let's not even go into the tight end situation because this opens up an entire new can of disappointment.

Obviously it didn't help to throw Justin Fields out there for 2 1/2 games. At that point he wasn't ready. Perhaps he is now, after beating the Lions. Perhaps he needs more time.

What is certain is all the speed the Bears brought in hasn't helped and maybe it has actually hurt. Good receivers don't necessarily have to be the fastest players on the planet, but very quick and able to think on the move besides catch passes.

If Byrd, Goodwin and Perriman were capable of elevating the team, why did the Bears get them for close to or at veteran's minimum pay after they had been unwanted elsewhere? Now they've added another sub-4.4 receiver in return man Jakeem Grant.

They felt it was all right to get rid of Miller, who has had a hard time in Houston with an injury and because the Texans have their own set of problems.

There's nothing saying the speed approach won't work better going forward but four games is a fairly good chunk of the season to gather information from and to date it has not worked.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven