After trading up Friday night to select running back David Montgomery, the Bears kept the focus on offense on Day 2. The team selected Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Ridley is the younger brother of Atlanta Falcons second-year pro Calvin Ridley, selected with Pick 26 in last year’s draft. One thing we know to be true about the younger Riley is his pedigree. He has football blood running through his body and he’s well coached from playing at one of the top programs in the nation.
I was initially skeptical of the selection, to be brutally honest. The Bears had done so much to address the receiver position last offseason with the signings of veterans Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel along with drafting rookie Anthony Miller.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that focusing on the offense is exactly what the Bears needed to do.
Defense is stout; offense still has work to do
The Bears defense allowed just 17.7 points per game last season, fewest by any team in the league. They were first in interceptions and third in sacks and also scored a league-high six defensive touchdowns.
Even if they regress a little while transitioning from Vic Fangio to Chuck Pagano at defensive coordinator, they’re still going to win a lot of games with their defense. You can expect the defense to keep opponents under 20 points.
The offense, meanwhile, finished 9th in points scored, but just 21st in total yards per game. Yards, of course, matter little compared to scoring points. But if the defense doesn’t set up the offense with good field position, you need to know your offense can sustain long drives to flip field position.
Ridley gives opposing defenses one more thing to worry about
Bears head coach Matt Nagy has an innovative offensive system. In one season alone, he made great strides in turning around a stagnant and uninspiring offensive unit. And we probably haven’t even seen half the power it can possess with the right pieces in place.
Robinson is a tough receiver to defend one-on-one. Miller has a knack for making difficult catches. Gabriel and new receiver Cordarrelle Patterson have the speed to take the top off a defense. Running back Tarik Cohen can catch passes out of the backfield and sprint away from everyone. And tight end Trey Burton can be lined up basically anywhere on the field.
Adding a savvy route runner and competitor like Ridley, to go with new versatile running back David Montgomery, only makes Nagy’s mad scientist grin grow wider as he delights in the weekly dissection of opposing defenses.