It didn’t take long for Mitch Trubisky to make a connection with Dontrelle Inman.
Inman caught six passes and gained 88 receiving yards in his debut with the Chicago Bears. He was on the field for 57 of the team’s 60 offensive snaps and was targeted on nearly 20 percent of the team’s passing snaps. In a world where actions speak louder than words, Trubisky’s constant targeting of Inman spoke volumes of the trust built between the two in the short amount of time in which they have worked together.
By the sound of things, a new quarterback-receiver bromance could be brewing in Chicago:
Bears receiver Dontrelle Inman said of rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky: “He’s a stud. He commands the huddle. It’s great just having him as a leader at his age.”
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) November 12, 2017
#Bears QB Mitch Trubisky on WR Dontrelle Inman: "He's really smart, savvy and runs good routes."
— Bob LeGere (@BobLeGere) November 15, 2017
Ah, that’s the stuff.
Trubisky had a 110.4 passer rating when targeting Inman in Week 10, which pretty much establishes the newest Bears receiver as the rookie quarterback’s favorite. Five of Inman’s six catches went for first downs and he burned four different Green Bay defensive backs in the process. He isn’t a game-breaker, but Inman is the kind of reliable pass-catcher whose presence as a replacement-level receiver had been sorely missed all season long.
However, there isn’t much time to celebrate simple competence. Trubisky and Inman have a unique challenge waiting in the Detroit Lions secondary that could put this dynamic duo’s connection to the test.
Inman will likely draw Lions cornerback Darius Slay, whose 88.8 grade from Pro Football Focus makes him the NFL’s ninth-highest-graded cornerback. Detroit is one of six teams to have employed a cornerback in shadow coverage for at least four games this season. Only Patrick Peterson of the Arizona Cardinals has seen more time in shadow coverage than Slay, which says a lot about how the Lions value Slay’s defensive contributions and how much confidence they have in him to shut down an opponent’s top target.
Slay has been responsible for trying to shut down the likes of Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones, Antonio Brown, and Jordy Nelson, among others this season. When pressed into shadow coverage, seven different quarterbacks have combined to complete 15 of 29 passes for 172 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions while posting a 52.7 passer rating when throwing at receivers shadowed by Slay in 2017.
I suppose that’s how Darius has earned the nickname “Big Play Slay.”
Not only does Inman have a chance to prove he was no one-week wonder, he’ll get a chance to do it against one of the league’s best cover corners. While the focus shifts to player development as the season winds to a finish, Inman has a chance to parlay the next seven games into an extension with the Bears or a bigger payday elsewhere. Chicago has problems at receiver, and while Inman was brought in to be a short-term fix, a strong performance on Sunday could help make his case to be a fixture in the offense for years to come.