Allen Robinson is still viewed as one of the better wide receivers in the NFL despite his frustrating 2021 season. People have struggled to figure out where things went wrong. Why did contract extension talks die a slow death as they did and why did his production take such a nosedive? While money explains most of the former, it is quite likely that head coach Matt Nagy plays a central role in the latter.
Though Robinson has publicly supported his head coach at every turn, it isn’t difficult to guess he is frustrated with his usage in the offense. Much of that stems from how Nagy employs his scheme. Care to wonder why it always seems so difficult for receivers to get open? Seth Walder of ESPN provided a perfect glimpse. Using a graph called “Route Rates Relative To Other WRs,” he revealed how often Robinson ran certain routes compared to others.
It wasn’t exactly pretty.
— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) December 7, 2021
For those who may not know, a hitch is a route in which the receiver runs five yards. At five yards, the receiver breaks down and comes back towards the QB at a 45-degree angle. If people were wondering why it so often seems like defensive backs are draped all over Bears receivers, you can point to this. What makes it even more baffling is the low number of “Go” routes as well. That means even though Robinson runs so many hitches, he rarely takes advantage by using double moves. Faking a hitch to get a defender to bite and then going deep.
Especially when Robinson and other Bears receivers have shown they can do it with considerable success.
The Bears eventually realized that they should use Maddox's aggressiveness against him with some double moves, which worked, and then some. Maddox jumps this slant route, and… got eem. Great double move by Allen Robinson and Maddox is toast. 45 yards. pic.twitter.com/F9sl2j5r2J
— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) June 1, 2020
— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) June 28, 2021
That sums up Nagy in a nutshell. It is one thing to like running hitch routes. This can be fine provided you have ways to exploit that when defenses start to pick up on the tendency. He just doesn’t do it. This is what people talk about with sequential play calling. Using calls early in games or even drives to set up calls down the line.
Allen Robinson is about to join a long list of scorned Bears WRs
Guys who ended up leaving while still in their primes because they felt the organization wasn’t getting the most out of their abilities. Alshon Jeffery and Curtis Conway are other such examples. Muhsin Muhammad once said Chicago is where receivers go to die. As this latest situation plays out? It is hard not to feel the sting of those words. A big reason why can be traced back to the head coach.
Conway had to deal with Dave Wannstedt. Jeffery endured Marc Trestman and John Fox. Now Allen Robinson endured four seasons of Nagy. None of those guys proved to be a true offensive guru or able to find one. Until that changes, Chicago will never be a top destination for either quarterbacks or wide receivers.
Endlessly frustrating, to say the least.
Robinson’s situation appears unsalvageable at this point. His contract expires in January and all signs point to him leaving for a new home in March. Nobody is surprised. Just disappointed that it ever got this far. The Bears will have no other choice but to start hunting replacement. After getting rid of Nagy.