Allen Robinson owns an amazing ability to catch contested passes.
This knack for fighting through clutter to achieve his goal has served him well both on and off the field.
Last year it was an offseason and start to the regular season when he seemed anything but pleased over the direction of contract talks. Still, he kept catching passes.
By waiting it out and finally accepting his franchise free agent status, Robinson is merely doing off the field now what he does on it. Nothing seems to distract him from his goal of finding the football, whether it was Blake Bortles, Chad Henne, Mitchell Trubisky, Chase Daniel, Nick Foles or Tyler Bray throwing him passes.
Robinson last season endured two quarterback switches with quarterbacks who struggled getting the ball downfield, in addition to the contract fracas that at one point led him to pull references to the Bears off social media.
He played on an offense possessing no ability to counter the passing game with a running attack from Week 4 through Week 11. So, defenses knew if they stopped him they could stop the Bears.
Still, Robinson led the NFL in contested catches with 49 for the second straight season according to Pro Football Focus. His total of 98 over the past two years is 17 more than the next-best total.
Last season, Robinson reached career highs in receptions (102) and catch percentage (67.5%).
Ultimately, Robinson might get his goal of a long-term contract in Chicago.
"I'm not too focused on anything else rather other than putting myself in the best position to be able to have a successful year and to be able to to try to do what I need to do for this offense and for my teammates and stuff like that," Robinson said, after receiving the veterans Brian Piccolo Award. "At this point in time, like I said before, there's some very big accomplishments that can be had this season that have never been done before for the Chicago Bears.
"You know, also being able to and wanting to get back to the playoffs and things like that, so I mean it's going to be an exciting year."
What is certain is he'll chase passes this season from the best passer who ever threw them to him. It might be Andy Dalton and it might be Justin Fields, but Robinson finally will have a better shot at passes downfield because they'll be thrown better.
Last year BearDigest.com projected an 85-catch season for Robinson, which would have been his second-best career total. Instead, he shattered all expectations.
The BearDigest.com 2020 projection was for a 1,230-yard season and he nearly hit that one on the head. Robinson went beyond it with 1,250 yards.
This season Robinson will again face the prospect of quarterback changes, and because he has the franchise tag he will not be on the practice field working with his new quarterbacks until minicamp. He'll once again be trying to put the fact he doesn't have a contract for next year in the back of his mind.
"Somebody asked me the other day 'are you worried about Allen Robinson?' " Bears wide receivers coach Mike Furrey said. "I said, 'listen, I've told you guys 100 times how big of a pro he is.' And that has not changed one bit in regards to the situation that we're in right now with him."
The only areas Robinson has room for improvement are touchdowns and yards after the catch. The person throwing him the football might make the difference on both counts this year in improving those marks.
If not, Robinson's past ability to persevere suggests he'll probably still find a way to get it done, even if it is his own quarterback or team management holding him back.
Young Allen Robinson
Allen Robinson at a glance
Career: Eighth season, 457 receptions, 783 targets, 5,999 yards, 39 TDs.
2020: 16 games, 102 receptions, 151 targets, 1,250 yards, 6 TDs.
The number: 68. Robinson had 68 first-down catches, sixth-highest total in the league.
2021 projection: 96 receptions, 140 targets, 1,301 yards, 9 TDs.