Marquise Goodwin’s world-class speed could be key to Bears revamping at WR

Marquise Goodwin’s world-class speed could be key to Bears revamping at WR

Goodwin put up more than 1,000 total yards in 2017, the last time he played a full season. | AP Photos

With Allen Robinson at the top and Darnell Mooney stepping into the No. 2 spot full-time, Goodwin could be an excellent third option. He puts the Bears over the top in their effort to boost the speed of their wide receiver room.

Some of the most hacky, worn out shtick in football is the annual training camp argument in which every wide receiver unflinchingly proclaims himself the fastest of the group.

They aren’t doing that nonsense at Halas Hall. That banter doesn’t fly when there’s a former Olympian in the room.

As impressive as Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney are, they know they’re not outracing Marquise Goodwin. He finished 10th in long jump at the 2012 Games and in late June was still vying for a spot on the team for Tokyo. He used to be an elite sprinter, too, and clocked a 6.69 in the 60 meters before blazing through his 40-yard dash in 4.27 seconds while preparing for the NFL Draft.

Goodwin has bigger ambitions than merely being the fastest man in Lake Forest.

“I’m just glad to still be the fastest in the league,” he said Saturday after another practice in which the Bears’ secondary struggled to stay with him. The day before, he scorched No. 1 cornerback Jaylon Johnson, who claimed later he did not remember the play.

While Goodwin’s pure speed is clear as could be, his potential role in coach Matt Nagy’s offense isn’t. He’s the biggest mystery on the team.

Goodwin, 30, is three years removed from his best season, but still looks highly capable of being one of the Bears’ most dangerous playmakers. He caught 56 passes for 962 yards and two touchdowns in 2017, then played just 20 games over the next two seasons and opted out of 2020 because of concerns about the coronavirus.

Nagy said the Bears had a lot of uncertainty about any player who stepped away last season — they signed running back Damien Williams, drafted cornerback Thomas Graham and had defensive tackle Eddie Goldman and defensive back Jordan Lucas opt out — but was reassured by Goodwin’s Olympic training.

“Anytime you have an Olympic mentality, you are different,” Nagy said. “That’s a minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour regime [in which] you are keeping your body in shape.”

His speed is holding steady even at this age, and Goodwin said he feels even faster than his pre-draft 40 time. This is a lot different than when they brought in Ted Ginn at 35 a year ago.

Goodwin’s ability to outrun a defense — “I really don’t get hit that much,” he said — is one reason the Bears believe they have undoubtedly upgraded the position. Robinson at the top is a given. Mooney was already ahead of Anthony Miller early last season and doesn’t sound crazy when he says he’s targeting 1,000 yards in Year 2. With Goodwin and Damiere Byrd — 47 catches, 604 yards and a touchdown for the Patriots last season — next in line, the Bears don’t have to keep waiting on a breakthrough by Javon Wims or Riley Ridley.

Assuming running back Tarik Cohen is fully back from his torn ACL by the start of the season, the Bears would be sending out a fleet of receiving targets as fast as any in the NFL for quarterback Andy Dalton.

“A lot of us see what speed can do in this league,” Nagy said. “It can definitely scare a lot of defensive coordinators when you have that because it can open up the run game, too, because you’ve got to play deeper.”

The Bears haven’t struck fear in a defensive coordinator in a long time, but this group could do it.

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