Seeking opportunities, Taylor Gabriel makes the most of them with the Bears in 2018
LAKE FOREST – Nothing like hitting the century mark for the first time in your career and not really even noticing it.
That was the situation for one of the newest Bears’ receivers over the past two weeks. Unbeknownst to Taylor Gabriel, he finally went over 100 yards receiving in a game in his career and did so for two-straight weeks.
“I didn’t even notice that till my wide receiver coach said something to me,” said Gabriel of the stat. “So that’s crazy. ”
For some, it might be a surprise that he’s the one leading the way in a few major Bears’ receiving categories five games into his first season with the team. Through five games he’s got a team-high 27 receptions along with 303 yards to go with a pair of touchdowns.
Those numbers were boosted by his back-to-back 100-yard receiving games, starting with his seven-catch, 104-yard performance in a blowout win over the Bucs. He followed that up with a career-high 110 yards receiving on five catches against the Dolphins.
His catch total is just six short of what he had in 2017 with the Falcons and is just nine catches short of his career-high 36 with the Browns in his rookie year of 2014.
So why the surge in production? Gabriel points simply to the opportunity.
“More opportunities. When you have more opportunities, you have the opportunity to make those plays,” said Gabriel. “I feel like any wide receiver and every player, in general, wants more opportunities. It’s just what you do with those opportunities.”
He’s gotten a lot in the past two weeks as the Bears’ offense has made a noticeable turn for the better against Tampa Bay and Miami. They scored 76 points in those contests while gaining 955 totals yards, fueled by Trubisky’s nine touchdown passes.
“It’s just execution. I feel like in practice we’ve been clean and I feel like when you go in practice you’re confident,” said Gabriel of the success in the last two games. “You go throughout the week making those catches. It just gives the wide receiver and the quarterback confidence in making that throw or making that catch. So just go out there and executing during the game, I feel like it takes a load off us.”
But Gabriel hopes the Bears continue to put some of the load on him moving forward, so this production in the first five games only continues. Yet the receiver wants to earn his spot on the field with more than just his receptions and yardage.
“It’s just showing that I can be an every-down wide receiver. Not just catching deep balls or running routes but blocking,” said Gabriel. “If I had a decoy route, running that full speed. Just doing everything in all aspects of being a wide receiver.”
Yet 100-yard games are the best kind of production that Gabriel can provide an offense that continues to build.