The Return Of Alshon Jeffery Could Shape How Chicago Bears View Matt Barkley

Alshon Jeffery is back practicing with the Chicago Bears, and his presence will hold some weight for the present and future. The Bears’ All-Pro level wide receiver gets an opportunity to prove to, not only the Bears, but the rest of the NFL that he is deserving of a major payday. Alshon Jeffery can also help the Bears determine whether or not Matt Barkley is a quality NFL quarterback.

Coming back from a four-game ban (courtesy of NFL) could have Jeffery playing motivated football for the final three weeks. There is plenty on the line for him in what has been a forgettable season for him thus far.

Statistically, this is the worst season Alshon Jeffery has had since his rookie year. Struggles on offense, coupled with oftentimes what many consider as uneven quarterback play. He has played with Jay Cutler and Brian Hoyer already.

Jeffery, long a favorite target of Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler, has only experienced pay dirt once this season with his signal-caller. A big chunk of his catches have come from Cutler-thrown passes. This week against a Green Bay Packers’ defense, he will get his targets from Matt Barkley.

Matt Barkley takes over for an injured Jay Cutler, and he will be Jeffery’s quarterback for the duration of the season. There is a significant difference between Barkley and Cutler. Jeffery may benefit from Barkley being a different quarterback than Cutler and vice versa.

Barkley does not have as strong of an arm as Cutler, but he is accurate with his throws. Where he puts a football has usually been in a receiver’s chest, or in their hands. Barkley has not had a compliment of the Bears’ best pass-catchers.

Matt Barkley from the Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears’ quarterback Matt Barkley looks to throw downfield against the San Francisco 49er. He will benefit from the return of Alshon Jeffery. [Image by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]

No Zach Miller, no Kevin White, no Eddie Royal, and up until this point, no Alshon Jeffery. Barkley has had the Bears’ second and third string receivers catching passes. Those same Bears’ receivers have had more dropped passes than any other team in a three-game span. It has left it difficult to see how good Barkley can be.

Alshon Jeffery can make tough catches, with defenders draped over him. He will make Barkley look better. Having one of the top NFL receivers to throw to can always enhance a quarterback’s game. If Jeffery can do that for Barkley, the Bears will be better for it in the interim, as well as in the long haul.

What the Chicago Bears need to find out is if both Alshon Jeffery and Matt Barkley have a place in their future. A strong showing by both of them would make that answer a resounding yes. Also, if they can connect, it will help the Chicago Bears decide what to do with Jay Cutler. That decision has some financial ramifications for the Bears going forward.

If Matt Barkley can play well, he could be a quarterback that goes to the Bears into the next season as the bridge to the passer of the future. Shedding Cutler’s salary could save the Bears around $12 million. Much of that can be used to upgrade the team and keep Jeffery around if the Bears choose to.

Alshon Jeffery
Having Alshon Jeffery on the field will help the development of Chicago Bears’ quarterback Matt Barkley. That could have lasting ramifications going forward. [Image by Elsa/Getty Images]

For what it is worth, it sounds like the embattled receiver hated watching the Bears lose games while he was absent. Jeffery seemed remorseful about his suspension, according to WLS-TV.

“Just got to know what you put in your body. I want to say that I feel like, if I was playing, some of those games we would have had a different outcome. We probably would have won.”

The Chicago Bears went 1-3 without Alshon Jeffery catching passes. If the record were reversed, the Bears would be 6-7 and perhaps in the hunt for the NFC North. Instead, the Bears are 3-10 and likely on their way to becoming 3-13 when the season wraps up. The remaining three games are strictly for development purposes. And the Bears have a returning player who can help a quarterback develop.

Alshon Jeffery can help turn Matt Barkley into a solid quarterback. One worthy of a guaranteed job next season. If that happens where they can create some chemistry the Chicago Bears may be able to turn the page on the Jay Cutler era.

[Featured Image by Stacy Revere/Getty Images]