Bears feel confident Ginn won't slow down
Never too old to stretch a defense?
That's what the Bears are banking on this season. They signed free-agent speedster Ted Ginn Jr. hoping he can still blow past defensive backs at age 35.
"I wouldn't stand on the table for Ted Ginn to come here if I didn't think he had anything left in the tank," receivers coach Mike Furrey told reporters in a conference call last week. "You go back to last year in New Orleans and watch his film and watch this young man run. He still can run. He's still 4.2, low 4.3s (in the 40-yard dash)."
Look no further than Saints vs. Bears in Week 7. Ginn ran past Prince Amukamara for a 45-yard catch in the third quarter, which helped send the Saints to a big win at Soldier Field.
Deep throws were not a strength of the Bears offense last season. They ranked last in the league in yards per completion at 9.6 and had just two pass plays longer than 40 yards. Taylor Gabriel caught a 53-yarder in Philadelphia, while Allen Robinson had a 49-yard gain against the Giants.
Ginn essentially replaces Gabriel, who caught 96 passes for the Bears over the past two seasons. Gabriel's 67 receptions in 2018 are more than Ginn has caught in any of his 13 NFL seasons. The Bears signed Ginn to a one-year deal on May 4.
Furrey mentioned that Ginn has rarely been a No. 1 receiver during his long career. He supported Michael Thomas in New Orleans the past three years. But during Carolina's Super Bowl season in 2015, Ginn did lead all Panthers wide receivers with 44 catches, while tight end Greg Olsen was that team's top receiver by a wide margin.
"I think (Ginn can) come here and help A-Rob become a great player, but I also think this is an organization and a system where he can come in and kind of start playing football the way he's always wanted to play," Furrey said. "I think you can go back and watch some film over the last couple of years, this guy can still play some football at a high level. When he lines up, DBs are going to be scared to death that he's going to take the top off."
With all the anxiety over quarterback Mitchell Trubisky's decision-making or the lack of protection by the offensive line, there were also plenty of plays last season when there was simply nobody open. Many of Trubisky's best completions came when Robinson was well-covered, but just made a great play to beat the defender to the ball.
According to Furrey, Ginn has no problem with a role of opening the field for Robinson.
"He sat in our (Zoom) meeting Day 1 and said, 'Listen, here's what I'm coming to do.'" Furrey said. "I'm coming to help Allen Robinson become one of the best players in the league and I'm coming to help win the Super Bowl. That's it. That's my job.
"So I'm going show up every day and if they tell me to run a go-ball and clear out for Allen Robinson, it's going to be the fastest go-ball you've ever seen in your entire life.' I knew right away that we were getting a leader on our football team."
The Bears are also hoping for continued progress from Anthony Miller, whose catches rose from 33 to 52 in his second season. Furrey also believes there will be improvement from Riley Ridley, the team's fourth-round draft pick in 2019. Ridley was active for five games as a rookie and had 6 catches.
"I believe he (Ridley) is going to make some noise on our roster," Furrey said.
This year, the Bears drafted receiver Darnell Mooney from Tulane in the fifth round. He ran a blistering 4.38 40 at the draft combine, but getting production from a fifth-round rookie receiver is a rare occurrence in the NFL.
• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls