Alshon Jeffery's Emergence Has Bears Offense Firing on All Cylinders

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IDecember 10, 2013

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 09: Alshon Jeffery #17 of the Chicago Bears runs on an end-around against the Dallas Cowboys at Soldier Field on December 9, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Cowboys 45-28. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Many will rightfully point to the play-calling of first-year head coach Marc Trestman or the extraordinary stint from backup Josh McCown to help explain why the Chicago Bears are currently playing so well on offense. 

However, the emergence of Alshon Jeffery as the NFL's next big thing at receiver certainly has to rank right alongside any of the other factors listed above. 

Fresh off a 249-yard, two-touchdown show in Week 13, Jeffery caught five passes for 84 yards and another highlight-reel score during Chicago's 45-28 stomping of the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night. 

Jeffery's lone touchdown grab, which came with 17 seconds left in the first half, gave the Bears a commanding 24-14 lead going into the break. He somehow came down with the football amongst a host of Cowboys defenders in the corner of the end zone. 

Overall, it was just another week at the office for the second-year receiver, who is continuing to make fools of the six NFL general managers who picked receivers before the Bears took Jeffery in the second round two Aprils ago. 

Trestman, McCown and the rest of the Bears offense must be grateful Jeffery landed in Chicago. 

On Monday night, Chicago rolled up new season highs in total yards (490), points (45), passing touchdowns (four) and passer rating (141.9). The Bears scored on their first eight possessions and only needed punter Adam Podlesh for holding kicks. 

Jeffery's giant hands were all over the performance, especially in the first half. 

On Chicago's first touchdown drive, Jeffery smoked his coverage for 15 yards on 3rd-and-10. A possession later, he got things rolling with an 11-yard reception to the Chicago 46-yard line. 

The Bears' third scoring drive was fueled by Jeffery's incredible 26-yard catch along the sidelines. He somehow took an underthrown pass away from Barry Church, who was in position to intercept the pass. A roughing the passer penalty tacked on another 15 yards. 

Jeffery's biggest contribution came on the fourth and final drive of the first half, when he caught two passes for 32 yards, including McCown's 25-yard strike that put Jeffery into the end zone for the second straight week. 

Using his 6'3" frame, Jeffery high-pointed the pass and skillfully kept two feet in bounds as he fell backwards out of bounds. It was Calvin Johnson-esque. But then again, both of Jeffery's touchdowns against the Vikings a week earlier had a hint of Megatron as well. 

Soon, pundits may be forced to lump Jeffery into Johnson's category as an elite NFL receiver. He's been that good in his second season. 

The Bears would eventually score three more touchdowns in the second half, but things were going so well on offense that Jeffery wasn't even needed. He received just two targets in the second half as Chicago rolled a poor Dallas defense. 

Over his last five games, Jeffery now has 572 receiving yards and three scores. 

A Star is Born: Alshon Jeffery's Last Five Games
vs. DET911412.70
vs. BAL78311.90
at STL44210.50
at MIN12249*20.82
vs. DAL58416.81
*Bears franchise record

Meanwhile, the Bears offense looks capable of playing with anyone. 

With 102 rushing yards, running back Matt Forte went over 1,000 for the season. His 175 total yards on Monday night bumped up his season pace for yards from scrimmage to nearly 2,000. 

Brandon Marshall, who remains this offense's No. 1 receiver, caught six passes for 100 yards, pushing his season total to 1,090. Combined with Jeffery, who is seventh in the NFL with 1,193 receiving yards, the Bears receiving duo is now up to 2,283 this season—the most in the NFL for a pair of receivers. 

Leading the offense is McCown, a 34-year-old career backup who is now enjoying a revival of sorts under center in Chicago. 

Against the Cowboys, McCown completed 27 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns. His passer rating finished at a career-high 141.7. And he also ran for a score in the first half. 

McCown now has 13 touchdown passes and just one interception in relief of Jay Cutler this season. He's fully embraced his role as the backup, but it certainly helps to get the kind of support McCown has received from Jeffery and the Bears offense. 

In the last three games alone, Chicago has averaged 467.3 total yards and 343.3 passing yards. After scoring just 21 and 20 points in the first two games of that stretch, the Bears exploded for 45 on Monday night. 

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 09:  Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery #17 of the Chicago Bears catches a touchdown at the end of the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys during a game at Soldier Field on December 9, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Many factors have played a role in Chicago blossoming into one of the NFL's best offenses. Trestman, McCown and a rebuilt offensive line have all played leading roles for a top-five scoring unit. 

Somewhere in that hierarchy of reasons fits Jeffery's ascendancy. The second-year receiver has swiftly developed into the game's most dangerous No. 2 receiver.

The Bears offense is now reaping the rewards of a bona fide star being born at the receiver position. 


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