National Football League
Monsters of the Route Tree? How the Chicago Bears now lead with offense
National Football League

Monsters of the Route Tree? How the Chicago Bears now lead with offense

Updated Apr. 30, 2024 2:38 p.m. ET

The Chicago Bears are having an identity crisis of the best kind. A team known for its defensive prowess for the past few decades has now had a full-on rom-com makeover. It's now all about the offense, baby.

With the addition of Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze with the ninth overall pick in this year's NFL Draft, the Bears could conceivably have the NFL's best wideout room. 

As part of an effort to create the best possible landing spot for newly minted Bears quarterback Caleb Williams, general manager Ryan Poles infused the offense with experience. He traded a fourth-round pick for Keenan Allen after acquiring D.J. Moore in the trade down from the top spot last year. For good measure, Poles then also grabbed Odunze with the team's second first-round pick in 2024, a player with whom Williams already seems to have a rapport. 

In fact, all four of the aforementioned players had a throwing session the week before the draft, before Williams or Odunze were even Bears.


"I found out, was it two days ago? That that popped out," Poles said on draft night. "I thought it was pretty cool. Still at that point I was nervous that wasn't going to be able to work out where we would have to do something to make that work out. So when I found that out, it was cool, and obviously now that group has worked together, which is good."

If you consider that Moore is still this team's top wide receiver, Allen is now their WR2, who should be used primarily in the slot, the speedy Odunze will now stretch the field, adding the complementary dimension to his veteran counterparts. 

Odunze was widely considered one of the three best receivers in this draft class. The other two, Marvin Harrison Jr. and Malik Nabers, were drafted to be their team's top option. Odunze is his team's third option and could instantly become the league's best at that spot. Take a second and try to think of anyone you'd take over him right now.

Because of that, I don't think there's a receiver trio out there that will end up contending with what Chicago will field this season. 

For a team as generationally starved for offense as Chicago, that's a wild thought.

Moore was the team's leading receiver last season, amassing 1,364 yards, good for the sixth most in the NFL. According to Next Gen Stats, Moore had the second-most receiving yards over expectation, with a 15.1-yard average. That's second to only CeeDee Lamb and means Moore is one of the best at creating with less. He also had the second-most receptions of 20 yards or more, second only to Tyreek Hill. Meanwhile, Allen was in Los Angeles, taking up 30.5 percent of his team's target share, good for the third-best in the league behind Hill and Davante Adams. That's pretty impressive for a guy that spent 56.7 percent of his time in the slot.

Now, you're adding Odunze who recorded a 4.45 40-yard dash at the combine to pair with a diverse skillset. 

"As a receiver he can line anywhere... inside, outside," Poles said after drafting Odunze. "You love his ability to finish in contested situations. Plays strong. Plays big. Runs after catches very good. He's a punt returner as well. I mean, the kid has just put time in and gotten better and better every single year, and he's a winner. He can impact the game at any moment. If you are a quarterback and in doubt and you want to go give a guy an opportunity to go finish, he's your guy. He's done that consistently."

Bears won the offseason with Caleb Williams-Rome Odunze duo

The Philadelphia Eagles have A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. The Miami Dolphins have Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. The Cincinnati Bengals? Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. Those are all tandems. The only wide receiver trio of consequence is in Seattle with D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. But even then, would you take them over what the Bears have? There's a case to be made that Chicago still wins out offensively — especially if Williams is the Prince Who Was Promised.

It's a new era in the Windy City. With that new era, comes a new identity — one Chicago has never seen before. 

Even with a defensive head coach in Matt Eberflus. Even with a top-five defense. This is now an offensive team and the first of its kind in the blue and orange. That in and of itself should be enough to tell Bears fans, this time it really could be different.

Carmen Vitali covers the NFC North for FOX Sports. Carmen had previous stops with The Draft Network and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. She spent six seasons with the Bucs, including 2020, which added the title of Super Bowl Champion (and boat-parade participant) to her résumé. You can follow Carmen on Twitter at @CarmieV


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