I’m going to be taking a look at some of the new players on the roster and examining how the Bears will use them schematically over the next month or so. A sort of series if you will. This includes first-year veterans as well as rookies. I’ll be looking at their film from prior teams, and colleges in the case of the rookies and also from the Bears offense last season to see how they may be used. I’ll also be looking at Loggains seasons with Both Cleveland and Tennessee and try to see why they brought in who they brought in. Teams generally sign players to play a specific role. Let’s see what roles they might have in mind for these guys.
The next player is a softball for me to evaluate. In Kendall Wright, I have the new player with his old team working with his former offensive coordinator who happens to be his new one too.
Essentially what you have in Wright is a prototypical slot receiver. When watching the 2013 tape of Wright (his most productive season) about 90% of his routes were typical Y routes. Most of them inside of 10 yards. About 95% of them with 3 or more Wide Receivers and even more so from 11 personnel (1 Running Back/1 Tight End) 3 wide receiver sets where he ran out of the slot. One of the reasons for this is Wright’s ability to get yards after the catch. He really wades through the trash well. Runs very much like a running back once he has the ball in his hands.
There’s no better example of this than on a play in week 3 of the 2013 season. At the 4:28 mark of the 2nd quarter (for those of you who have NFL game pass) Wright is set up in the slot to the left of the formation on the weak side of the field about 10 yards to the split ends right shoulder. At the snap, Wright makes a jab step towards the outside shoulder of the cornerback in press man playing outside leverage. He then cuts sharply towards the middle of the field on a sort of flat crossing route, but as he gets to the hashes he gets the ball from Jake Locker who forced Wright to stop his stride by holding on to the ball a little too long. No matter, however, as Wright catches a high pass and proceeds to break a tackle attempt by the corner covering him and then breaks it up field for a 20 plus gain zig zagging through the San Diego defense brilliantly.
Occasionally you’ll see Wright play on the outside. In this example, he plays the split end. At about the 10:03 mark of the second quarter in week 3 again Wright takes three strides up field then runs a quick out for a short gain. So in this example, there’s another route the Bears have at their disposal when in need of a quick short gain.
In the next example at the 1:41 mark of the second quarter against San Diego in week 3 Wright is lined up at flanker this time to the left of the formation on the weak side of the field. Wright then motions next to the slot receiver and sets up two to three yards off the line of scrimmage in a stack formation. Here he runs a combo route in sort of a reversed stick combo route. Wright runs the flat route from the left hash to the right flat on a crossing route and the slot receiver runs a deep dig. On the other side the split end and tight end run two vertical routes to clear the right flat than at about the five-yard line at the top of their stem on the vertical routes they run a switch route to keep the defensive backs occupied and concentrating on their assignments. Meanwhile, Wright gets the pass in the right flat in stride and picks up 15 plus yards inside the opponents ten-yard line.
On another play in this game he runs a combo route in sort of a reversed stick combo route with the Slot Receiver. Wright runs the flat route from the left hash to the right flat on a crossing route and the slot receiver runs a deep dig. On the other side the split end and tight end run two vertical routes to clear the right flat than at about the five-yard line at the top of their stem on the vertical routes they run a switch route to keep the defensive backs occupied and concentrating on their assignments. Meanwhile, Wright gets the pass in the right flat in stride and picks up 15 plus yards inside the opponents ten-yard line.
Occasionally you’ll see Wright run a deeper route. In this case at about the 1:33 mark of the same week 3 game he runs a deep curl route out of 11 personnel in kind of a strange play where all 3 receivers and the tight end run digs and curls. Here he catches the pass for a 16 yard gain.
In Tennessee’s Fourth game against the Jets, you see Wright on the weak side as one of the two Slot Receivers out of 10 personnel (1 running back/0 Tight Ends). That doesn’t last very long as the running back motions out of the backfield and out to the right hash and is now in a pass route formation with three wides on that side of the field. Now in 00 personnel (No running backs/tight ends) Wright runs a simple hitch route for a short gain. Very busy formation for such a short gain. It’s very possible that was a setup formation dialed up by Loggains to use at another time.
Next play I’m going to paint a visual picture on is their week 5 matchup against Kansas City. Wright against Eric Berry basically. A game Wright accounted for himself very well in against arguably the best cover safety in the NFL. 6 rec./75yrd. In this set Wright’s in 20 personnel (2 running backs/0 Tight Ends). Yet another formation he’s in showing his football IQ and versatility.
At about the 10:03 in the third quarter Wright starts out on the weak side in the slot, but quickly motions out of it to the strong side of the field and settles in the slot. The Flanker and Wright execute a curl/flat combo route out of a stack formation. Wright runs a deep in for a substantial gain.
To summarize, Wright is a receiver who can run multiple routes out of multiple formations. He has a great understanding of his offense and his role in it and how to read defenses and then use the proper techniques to get free and then run the correct routes. He is a receiver a Quarterback can trust to be where he should be when he should be. In that regard he makes an excellent safety net that can be valuable in keeping a quarterback calm knowing he has that outlet if all else fails.
As I mentioned earlier you can expect Wright to run all the typical Y routes in the route tree. Flat routes, Inside curls, outside curls, quick outs, smoke routes, shallow crosses, Digs, in’s, outs, and of course posts, seams, and flag routes when running deep stuff. He also runs those routes well too. A little unorthodox with his technique and footwork but he can make sharp cuts and gets open which along with actually catching the ball is a wide receiver’s top skill set. The competition will be fierce, but when the smoke clears expect to see Wright on the roster running routes out of the slot for the most part.