The Chicago Bears have three new pass-catchers on their roster, but first-year head coach Matt Nagy has his eyes on getting the best out of a returning player who hasn’t made much of an impact in the NFL … yet.
Wide receiver Kevin White has played just 238 of the 3,079 offensive snaps played by the Bears since he was drafted in 2015, but the Bears’ new head coach says he is excited to work with a player who was a top-10 pick just three seasons ago.
Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic has Nagy’s full quote regarding White from Tuesday at the NFL Owners Meetings in Orlando. You can check it out in its entirety here, but this snippet might stand out the most:
“For me, I really truly mean this when I say it, I’m really excited to dig deep into him and put him in the best situation possible for Kevin White to succeed. Here’s a guy that we have on our roster that a lot of people can get lost in the shuffle or pushed to the side, and that’s not going to happen. We’re going to give him every opportunity to succeed and you see a kid that’s working hard in the offseason, you hear it from different people. You just know those are the feel-good stories. How cool would that be to be able to get this kid to come back and be a dominant player?”
It’s easy to give up on White at this stage of his career, so to hear his head coach him a vote of confidence is actually quite refreshing.
The external frustration regarding White’s inability to stay healthy is understandable. Injuries have made him a non-factor on more than 90 percent of the offensive snaps played since he was drafted. That’s not what anyone wants out of a first-round pick, let alone a player chosen in the top-10. But, as it stands, the Bears are still rebuilding their receivers room and aren’t in a position to part ways with someone with White’s pedigree, measurables, and work ethic that is going toward erasing the past.
And since we’re always stumbling upon comparisons to Doug Pederson’s Philadelphia Eagles, perhaps Chicago has in White what Philadelphia had in Nelson Agholor.
As a first-round pick in 2015, Agholor caught a total of 59 passes for 648 yards and three touchdowns. He had problems with drops and it reflected in his production, as well as his playing time. Agholor found himself in a new role in 2017 with free agent additions Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith, then responded with his best year yet setting career bests in targets (95), catches (62), receiving yards (768), and touchdowns (8). It took some time, but Nelson’s breakout helped him shed the bust label in 2017 … and not a moment too soon.
Nagy won’t guarantee a third-year breakout from White, nor should he. But he does insist that he will take a “glass half-full” approach and at least put White in a position to make the most out of his talent – provided he stays healthy. And this far before the season, should he really say anything else?