September 20, 2021

Hub Arkush: Breshad Perriman gives Bears even more speed. But does he make them better?

The worst kept secret in the history of the NFL is official: Breshad Perriman is finally a Chicago Bear.

So do we celebrate or regurgitate?

How do you not get excited about the 26th overall pick of the 2015 draft that plays wideout at 6-foot-2, 212 pounds, and was clocked between an otherworldly 4.17 and 4.27 at his pro day depending on which scouts you listen to?

That slower mark would tie him with current Bears receiver Marquise Goodwin for the fourth fastest pre-draft time ever, and the latter would be the fastest ever, surpassing John Ross’ 4.22.

Your acid reflux, however, could be triggered by the fact the Bears are now Perriman’s seventh club entering his seventh NFL season, and while he isn’t Kevin White, he has played 16 games just once and more than 12 twice. He’s amassed just 125 catches for 2,006 yards and 14 TDs in those first six years.

I mention White because as the seventh pick in that same draft, he is back in the league, too, in New Orleans.

When you’re 6-foot-2-plus and can run like the wind, NFL clubs will overlook a lot of warts.

General manager Ryan Pace spelled the signing when he met the media last week.

“First thing: speed, big time speed,” Pace said of Perriman. “We’ve talked about him, I feel like, every year. He’s big, he’s 6-2, he can still run and that’s just continuing the speed and explosiveness in this offense.”

On Monday, I asked head coach Matt Nagy where the Bears start with a kid with his track record?

“With Breshad, he has been with several different teams, and being a first-round draft pick, we’ve been looking at him for a couple years now, so we’re pretty familiar with his path,” Nagy said. “You’ve just got to stay positive with them, and then you find out why didn’t things go well here or there, and why did things go well at these other spots, because I know when he was at Tampa Bay that second part of the season he was really, really good.”

Over the last nine weeks of the 2019 season in Tampa, Perriman amassed 33 receptions for 629 yards and six TDs.

The Bears, to a man, seem to agree they’ve never seen a group as fast as Perriman, Goodwin, Damiere Byrd and Darnell Mooney in one locker room.

“I have not, I have not,” wide receivers coach Mike Furrey said. “I think it’s probably pretty rare for anybody to have three guys listed at 4.2, a legit 4.2.

“Yeah, we’ve got a pretty good track team, a good 4-by-100 for sure, and a good coach in 12 (Allen Robinson), I’m sure he’ll coach them up.”

The issue, though, is how rarely all that speed converts to production.

Like Perriman, Goodwin and Byrd have each had one better-than-average season in seven and five years in the league, respectively.

Furrey does have a theory about that.

“I think the main thing just from my experience of being around guys is just don’t confuse them, let them play,” Furrey said. “Let them play, let them feel comfortable and let them play as fast as they possibly can.

“When they start thinking too much, where to line up, all those kind of things, it slows you down. It slows everybody down, and if you slow that trait down, now you’ve just got an average guy out there that can run.

“So I think it’s just putting them in situations where they feel free, and they feel comfortable and let them go play.”

While the football world has been focused on the Justin Fields’ phenomena and the 24-7 debates over when he should become the starter, the Bears have made an even bigger bet on acquiring an Olympic track team to make both him and Andy Dalton better.

In some respects it’s old school, possibly the biggest factor in getting Al Davis into the Hall of Fame.

It’s also a huge gamble if they leave more balls on the turf than they carry into the end zone.

While we can all agree that speed does kill, who will be the victims here seems to be an open question.

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush

Hub Arkush is a Bears/NFL Insider for Shaw Media