By Chris Emma–
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is spending time this week figuring out how to contain a familiar foe in Eagles receiver Alshon Jeffery.
Fangio noted the size and catch radius that Jeffery brings for quarterback Carson Wentz and the Eagles’ high-octane offense. It’s everything the Bears could use for their struggling unit that’s lacking a playmaker of Jeffery’s capabilities.
But the Bears allowed Jeffery to walk into free agency in March, where he landed with the Eagles on a one-year deal worth $14 million.
“Business is business,” Jeffery said Wednesday by conference call. “I think it was just a better decision for me and my family, honestly. I spent five years there. I love it there. I had a great time. I appreciate the opportunity. Me being in Chicago gave me the opportunity to live out my childhood dream of playing a professional sport.”
The Bears’ decision to let Jeffery leave became even more magnified when top targets Kevin White, their 2015 first-round pick, and Cam Meredith were forced to injured reserve. The offense has been trying to find answers at receiver.
General manager Ryan Pace was never sold on Jeffery, who may have already had his mind made up on leaving Chicago. The Bears weren’t able to secure the right replacement for the talented target.
“Hindsight is always 20/20,” Bears coach John Fox said. “That’s pretty much known. He’s a guy we liked. We did talk to him. It’s not like we were not in the mix. A lot of times they have decisions in that as well.”
Jeffery has been the Eagles’ most targeted player on offense, with Wentz connecting his way 38 times for 567 yards and six touchdowns. Philadelpha has a record of 9-1 ahead of welcoming Chicago (3-7) to town for Sunday’s game.
The addition of Jeffery has fortified an Eagles offense that needed a player of his caliber.
“He’s a bright spot,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “When he came in here, he was eager to learn, eager to get better, get with Carson and throw. Carson was the same way with him, excited to get him in here. He’s been a bright spot on offense. He works hard every single day.
“He doesn’t complain. He doesn’t come crawling into my office and say he’s not being targeted enough, or this and that, which sometimes receivers can do, especially premier guys. He hasn’t done that. He’s been a professional about his job and his role.”
Jeffery’s final moments in the Bears’ locker room came with him guaranteeing, “We will win the Super Bowl.” Although, as Jeffery noted, there wasn’t any particular team mentioned with that declaration.
Now searching for Super Bowl glory in Philadelphia, Jeffery has moved on from his time in Chicago.
“It is what it is,” he said. “Now I’m here in Philly. Can’t take the past back, so it is what it is.”