Bears receivers coach Mike Furrey is painting an alternative picture of two players under his tutelage.
Whether Furrey succeeded doesn't matter. What does matter is whether he's actually right.
Wide receiver Anthony Miller is the obvious one, and trade possibilities dogged the 2018 second-round draft pick throughout the offseason following his ejection from the playoff loss to New Orleans because of a fight with Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.
"You know, Anthony's been in our meetings, he's been doing a great job," Furrey said. "We haven't skipped a beat at all so you know he's doing his job.
"He's growing up and so he's, you know, he's doing his job. He's growing up, you know he's maturing, he's understanding all the things that we've talked about really for the last couple years. There's a small increment in improvement. So he's done great. He's been in our rooms, no issues."
Furrey and other coaches in the past suggested Miller needed to be more proactive at understanding his role in the offense.
Miller has produced in the past and this can't be denied. He had a slight numbers decline last year and lacked consistency, especially near season's end during the playoff push.
"He's been alert, he's been attentive and he's doing what we're asking him to do so it's going to be fun," Furrey said.
Miller is in the last year of his contract and needs to make a statement.
The receiver group has been upgraded with three players and it's going to lead to fierce roster competition. Damiere Byrd and Marquise Goodwin add speed, Byrd as both a Z-receiver outside and in the slot. So, this challenges Miller's roster spot.
Rookie sixth-round pick Dazz Newsome is a pure slot receiver.
"And Jester Weah who's you know a 6-2, 6-3, 200-pound wideout, you know some other guys that we're adding to this room, it's going to be fun to really see; there's going to be some competition," Furrey said.
Furrey said the situation for Miller is obvious. He has to be working and produce.
"And know it's not going to be a need base — you know we don't need you," Furrey said. "We've got guys that are going to be able to produce. You better be a pro, you better be on your details, you better do what we're asking you to do.
"Obviously with the veteran quarterback in Andy (Dalton) and a young quarterback in Justin (Fields) you're going to have to be where you're supposed to be. If not, Andy's going to fix it. If not you're going to make Justin look bad, which is not what we want."
The other player Furrey sees in a different light is Goodwin.
The narrative on Goodwin has been he is a "track guy." In football terms, this is a negative. Being a track guy is someone with plenty of speed, who gets injured easily, misses a lot of time and rarely seems to be at peak production levels.
Furrey didn't really shoot down that description. He just pointed out Goodwin has never had a really serious injury, and this is true. However, that only plays into the narrative.
"You know I think the first thing, doing some research, you know going back and looking at Marquise's career, I don't think he's been banged up as much as everybody kind of has thought he's been," Furrey said. "I think he's just been kind of nagged here and there."
- In 2013, he missed four straight games with a hand injury in Buffalo.
- In 2014, he missed three games due to rib injuries and two due to a hamstring.
- In 2015, he missed five games due to injuries to his ribs and then went on injured reserve for nine weeks with rib injuries.
- Goodwin got through 2016 without injuries and had a career-high 29 catches in 68 targets for 14.9 yards a catch, then moved on to San Francisco and had his career-best season with 56 receptions in 105 targets. It was his only full season.
- In 2018 he had four separate issues cost him a game each — one non-injury related, the others a knee, a hamstring and a quad.
- In 2019 he missed a game due for non-injury issues and then the final seven games with knee and toe injuries.
- In 2020 he opted out after being traded to the Eagles and his contract reverted back to San Francisco, which cut him.
Goodwin competed in the 2012 Olympics in the long jump and took 10th. An injury kept him from taking part in the 2016 trials and he had initially expressed plans to compete in the 2020 Olympics until the pandemic pushed them back to this year.
"Overall I see a young man who is a 4.27 (in the 40)," Furrey said. "If he's slow on one day he's going to be in the 4.3s. He still has the speed.
"I think when you go back and look at him two years ago, this young man was set to get ready to take off and become one of the most elite receivers in this league with his skill set. You know being able to catch the football very naturally, an unbelievable, patient route runner, a very very smart football player."
Furrey likes something else about Goodwin.
"And I think the biggest thing that we're seeing right now in our meetings is how big of a leader he is," Furrey said. "You know, he takes that vocal role of being a leader. And so it's been exciting. It's a great addition to our room."
Seeing the production on the field is the key, both for Goodwin and Miller.