Allen Robinson dominated in the passing game for the the Bears the last two seasons, but has just 24 targets in the first four games of 2021. | Nam Y. Huh/AP
Robinson has only 24 targets in four games but is showing signs of a connection with Fields. That could pay off enormously for the Bears.
One of the best things Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields has going for him as he finds his way is veteran wide receiver Allen Robinson, who can put up a 1,000-yard season with just about anybody.
Robinson’s reliability as a route runner and opportunistic thinking downfield give Fields a safety valve if he’s under pressure and the freedom to take deep shots, as he did when he bypassed a safe dump-off to Damien Williams in favor of a 27-yard throw to Robinson on the sideline late in the third quarter of the win over the Lions.
Robinson lined up on the right, veered to the middle of the field, then broke right at the perfect time to give Fields a narrow window behind cornerback Amani Oruwariye and in front of safety Will Harris. Fields hit him with precision, and Robinson secured the gain with an expert toe tap.
“He trusts his teammates,” Robinson said of Fields. “He kind of came to me after like, ‘You ain’t think I was gonna throw it, did you?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, I saw you.’
“I felt the play. It was the perfect sense of as I’m going through the route, [knowing] that he might be coming to me. So that’s also fun hearing him say that… My thing is just to be where I need to be when I need to be there.”
Fields threw to Robinson just three times out of his 17 passes, but there were signs that the two are developing a connection. Fields didn’t work much with Robinson, Darnell Mooney and the other first-string skill players during the off season because they took the majority of their reps with Andy Dalton, but Fields has had his turn while Dalton deals with a knee injury.
He seems to already have something going with Mooney, who rolled to a career-high 125 yards on five catches against the Lions, but Robinson has been underutilized. The Bears targeted him 11 times while running a dink-and-dunk offense against the Rams in the opener, then four, six and three over the next three games.
Robinson has 13 catches for 149 yards and a touchdown, and those numbers put him on track for about half the catches and yardage he put up the last two seasons.
Beyond that being an untapped resource for a Bears team that ranks 30th in points and 32nd yardage, it’s certainly a frustrating start to the season for Robinson in a contract year. He wanted to either sign a big extension or test the market last spring after piling up 1,250 yards and six touchdowns on 102 catches, but the Bears opted to use the franchise tag on him at $18 million.
His agent, Brandon Parker, aired his annoyance on Twitter, but Robinson hasn’t so much as hinted at being upset. He said targets are outside his control and he’s not the type to demand the ball, adding that what’s best for him statistically might not always be what’s best for the team.
“I want to be able to be as productive as possible — for the sake of the offense, the sake of this team,” Robinson said. “That’s the main thing. It’s not really being frustrated with things, people, or anything like that, but maybe based on not being able to contribute how you may want to.
“We obviously want to be better. … The frustration lies across the board, which I think is a good thing. … With frustration comes correction.”