Byron Pringle is a huge upgrade at a position the Bears desperately needed

Byron Pringle is a huge upgrade at a position the Bears desperately needed

Last season, the Chicago Bears’ passing offence was a disaster. That isn’t breaking news. GM Ryan Poles’ priority was to get it corrected as soon as feasible. It required a multi-pronged strategy, beginning with a new coaching staff to improve the scheme and then reworking the personnel from wide receivers to the offensive line. Adding Byron Pringle from Kansas City was one of his big decisions. It wasn’t the showy move that Bears supporters were hoping for, but the GM believes the 28-year-old provides something to the squad that the team lacks.

Mooney caught 53 passes on 82 targets for 708 yards and two TDs. Everybody else caught 55 passes on 93 targets for 625 yards and two TDs. That is where Pringle comes in. He was highly efficient against zone all year in Kansas City, catching 28-of-33 passes for 343 yards and two touchdowns. When given a chance, he feasted on that coverage.

He is correct when looking at it from a fit point of view. I already talked about how Pringle is arguably the best slot receiver on the roster before even taking a snap with the Bears. That remains true. There is one other benefit that people might miss. Pringle will also help the offense against zone coverage. Believe it or not, the Bears had a difficult time against zone most of last season. According to Pro Football Focus, only Darnell Mooney received a grade over 70 last season. Everybody else, including Allen Robinson, had a 61 or lower.

Byron Pringle helps diversify the Bears’ passing attack.
The key to offensive success through the air is having receivers that can beat zone coverage. That is the dominant type most NFL teams play these days since man-to-man often require specific types of cornerbacks that are rare. Zone-beaters must have good spacial awareness and instincts. They sense where the soft spots are and adjust their routes to exploit them. Pringle proves more than adept at this last season.

He may not be the superstar everybody hoped for, but Pringle plugs many gaps in the passing game that was too often present last year.

Secondly, a receiver must be good after the catch. The key to any good zone defense is keeping the ball in front of you to prevent big plays. That requires solid tackling. Such a defense crumbles if receivers make that last part irrelevant. Byron Pringle did plenty of that last season as well. Almost one-third of his receiving yards were after the catch. Those 188 yards would’ve blown everybody except Mooney away on the roster last year.

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