Chicago Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (17) fights off Cleveland Browns inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson after a catch in the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)
As the Chicago Bears’ training camp in Bourbonnais approaches, there are plenty of people in the organization with plenty to do in order to get ready for the season. The team obviously won’t be as transparent with their “To-Do Lists” as we’d like them to be, so instead of trying our hand at safe-cracking, we came up with our own lists.
Today we discuss what wide receiver Alshon Jeffery has to do in order to build on his breakout 2013 season with the team.
Guard Against a Letdown Season
Jeffery is going to be going into his third season in the league, but after a huge 2013 season that saw him lead the team in receiving yards and challenge Brandon Marshall in terms of how many passes he caught, there’s going to be a ton of pressure placed upon him to perform at a high level again as the Bears chase after a Super Bowl championship.
Naturally, there’s nothing that the receiver can do about those expectations, but he can guard against some of the biggest enemies a player can face when coming off a superb campaign. The first and most obvious is pressure, because guys feel that they have to live up to the standard that they set when they burst onto the scene. Fortunately for Jeffery, he is surrounded by players who have been around the block a few times in the NFL, and they should help him both on the field and off to avoid that pitfall.
The other potential obstacle is complacency, but that’s another thing that veteran teammates can help Jeffery avoid. He has been working hard this offseason, and Marshall especially has been adamant about including Jeffery in workouts and keeping him challenged. That should pay dividends when the new season begins, and it’s an attitude that the receiver will likely carry with him into the season.
Continue to Follow Marshall’s Example
One of the biggest improvements in Jeffery’s game last season wasn’t his pass catching, but rather his willingness to be a downfield blocker when one of the other offensive weapons on the roster had the ball in his hands. Whether it was Matt Forte, Martellus Bennett, or even Marshall, Jeffery often would be running down the field trying to clear space and maximize gains as the offense chewed up yardage.
With that skill in his tool belt, and with Jeffery clearly taking after Marshall in terms of work ethic and attitude toward the game, the receiver simply needs to continue down that path. It’s a harder slog than simply coasting through games, but if he can continue to put in that kind of effort, there’s really no stopping him.
Work with Cutler
We went over some numbers when discussing Jay Cutler’s tendency to look toward Marshall over all other options when the duo is on the field together (it isn’t a big discrepancy, but one that played out more often than not), but that doesn’t mean that Jeffery should just assume that he’s going to be the second option at all times.
Cutler has worked with Jeffery, Marshall, and most of the other offensive players during the offseason, and Jeffery will have to make sure that cohesive work environment continues into training camp and the regular season. It seems like a blatantly obvious thing to do, but when it comes to ensuring a good relationship between quarterback and receiver, it’s always good to make sure everything is in tip top shape.