A loss is only a total loss if nothing is learned or gained from the experience. For rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, three pass-interference calls against him in the second half of the loss to Green Bay, one nullifying a touchdown, was a disaster.
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Now comes the important part.
The thing Im trying to make sure of is that it doesnt destroy him from a mental standpoint, said receivers coach Darryl Drake. Hes fragile right now but thats part of it.
You have to man-up. Are you going to sit back and sulk or are you going to do something about it? Youve still got to play the game physical so you cant give in on that. You have to turn it into something positive. You say, how can there be a positive there? Its in how you respond when youre in that situation again. You have to leave no questions, and he left a question by having his arm extended.
Jeffery already has put the harsh lessons to mental use.
I just have to play a lot smarter, Jeffery told CSNChicago.com.
Beyond the penalties lies a revealing fact about Jeffery: In a short time, made shorter by missed games due to injury, Jeffery has become a crucial figure in the eyes, literally and figuratively, of Jay Cutler and the Chicago offense.
It was to Jeffery that Cutler went three times on first-down plays, a vital need area for the Bears. And it was also to Jeffery that Cutler and the play calling went once on a third-and-10 and twice on fourth-down plays. One of the fourth downs was the ill-fated completion in the end zone that was nullified by then first pass-interference call.
Put another way, in one of the games most important plays, Cutler went to the rookie.
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Some of the reason lay in the forgotten fact that Jeffery had previously drawn Green Bay penalties on successive plays resulting in 58 penalty yards.
The Bears second-round draft choice last April has always been a physical wideout. That physicality helped him catch 183 passes in 39 games for South Carolina. But while his strength and ability to be physical was part of the attraction for the Bears, it only works if used intelligently.
Jeffery also has a mentor and fan a couple of locker stalls away.
There are things that we can do to keep that from happening so much, said Brandon Marshall, also a physical receiver but who has been tagged with four penalties in 872 snaps vs. Jefferys four in fewer than half (353) that number of plays.
Well work on those things, Marshall said. I feel bad for the kid because hes working his butt off just to get healthy, and also to get back to the form that he believes, and we all believe, that he can play at.
For that to happen to him, that kinds sucks and it sucks for our team, but Alshons going to be OK. Hes a competitor and he has a lot of ability. He has heart and thats a guy that you can take in your foxhole.
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Jeffery was ready to crawl into a hole last Sunday. But that was then, Arizona is now.
Im really not thinking about it, Jeffery said, just concentrating on the next game.