Five-plus weeks into the NFL season, Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery has been targeted with 31 passes, making him tied with eight other players for 49th in the NFL. There are six players ahead of Jeffery that have played only four games, including teammate Kevin White. Despite the exodus of other top targets like Martellus Bennett and Matt Forte, Jeffery's targets per game average is down to 6.2 a week after averaging 9.4 per game over the last three seasons.
Still, Bears coach John Fox does not necessarily think Jeffery needs to be thrown the ball more often.
"We would like to have the ball more. We would like to score more points," Fox said Friday, per the Chicago Tribune. "But there's only one ball, and it's hard to get it to everybody. I think he has been what I would consider -- I think our opponents do too -- pretty productive."
Fox reportedly disputed the assertion that Jeffery needs to be targeted more often by citing the fact that Jeffery has only three fewer catches than slot receiver Eddie Royal and tight end Zach Miller.
"From a production standpoint, to say that we're not getting him the ball is a little bit off," Fox said.
That seems sort of beside the point, though. First of all, Jeffery's production is way down from years past. He's averaging 4.4 catches for 78.8 yards per game and has yet to find the end zone after averaging 5.6 catches for 82.0 yards per game and scoring 21 touchdowns over the last three seasons (in which he played 41 games).
Second of all, Jeffery is a far more talented player than either Royal or Miller.
Third of all, Jeffery has been on the field more often than either Royal or Miller, and has been targeted less often when out in routes. Per Pro Football Focus tracking, Jeffery has run 28 more routes than Miller this season and 43 more than Royal, yet is practically even with both in terms of targets. As a percentage of routes run, he is way behind both players.
Given the skill level of the players in question, that does not seem like the kind of target distribution the Bears should be comfortable with.
Considering that they are 1-4 and averaging only 17 points per game (30th in the NFL), it wouldn't be the worst idea for the Bears to simply start feeding the ball to their best offensive player, whether the coverage dictates it or not.