Ted Ginn Jr. didn’t need to be reminded of details.
“I knew I needed to attack the safety in front of me,” Ginn said in an interview. “I knew that I had to beat him and once I saw that safety drop from the back side that would’ve taken away my angle, I knew I had green grass in front of me.”
The play was a 45-yard reception against the very team Ginn signed with last week. It was the longest play of the season for the speedy wideout and one of just seven 40-plus yard completions the Chicago Bears allowed in 2019. The play was a simple combination of talent and scheme.
“Different coverages can be created by the way you line up, a lot of different things come from different alignments,” Ginn said. “Within that play, we were in a run set type of alignment where I’m usually not in. For me it was kind of a big splash play were able to get it off.”
In his official return to the Midwest, Ginn hopes to have plenty more splash plays and he knows he signed with a coach and an offense that can offer a mutually beneficial relationship.
“(Matt Nagy) has been trying to get that type of threat in me or Tyreek Hill or DeSean Jackson, guys that we have seen prevail in this offense,” Ginn said. “I can bring my talent with (Nagy’s) knowledge and it should be a hand-in-hand type of deal. We should be able to take over.”
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Nagy had been recruiting Ginn, who also became familiar with wide receivers coach Mike Furrey during the free agency process. “It was a good fit for what I can bring to the team and what they want,” Ginn said about his decision to sign with the Bears.
But don’t sleep on the importance of location.
Ginn grew up in Cleveland as a Browns, Indians and Cavaliers fan (and, yes, The Last Dance is bringing back painful memories). He went on to play at Ohio State University where he made a name for himself with big plays, including a kick return for a touchdown in the 2006 National Championship Game.
He was picked ninth by the Miami Dolphins and has had numerous stops in his career. He has played on losing teams, on playoff teams and on a Super Bowl team. He has played for young struggling quarterbacks, MVPs and Hall of Famers. But returning to the Midwest was special for him.
“It means everything ,” Ginn said. “This is where I’m from. To be able to come back continue my journey, it’s a blessing.” (He pointed out that the 45-yard catch he made at Soldier Field last year was also his first game in the stadium.)
Ginn realizes how his speed impacts defenses and how he can open up space for his teammates.
“I’m not saying nobody was able to do it before me, but with me being here and me having the years and experience of being a deep ball threat, it will open the offense up for a guy like (Allen) Robinson and a guy like (Anthony) Miller,” Ginn said.
According to Sharp Football, Ginn had explosive catches on 13% of his targets in 2019. That rate was the best among New Orleans’ wide receivers and would’ve tied Anthony Miller for the best on the Bears. The player he’ll likely replace in the lineup, Taylor Gabriel, had explosive plays on 8% of his targets.
Ginn said he thinks he could still churn out a 40-yard dash in the 4.3 or low-4.4 range, but was quick to add he doesn’t believe that is a true test of speed. “The 40-yard dash is about a start and a finish. If you know how to master those you can run anything, you can be unbelievable in the 40.”
Once he gets the ball and in the open field, Ginn said he doesn’t worry about anything but scoring. “It almost like a dog chasing you, you’re not worried about where that dog at, your main focus how do I get somewhere safe without getting bitten,” Ginn said. “With the ball, it’s is how do I get to that end zone without getting tackled.”
Ginn said he’s looking forward to getting into Halas Hall and practicing with his new teammates so he can show he’s more than just a speed threat. Until then, he’s trying to take advantage of virtual meetings, which he said will be crucial for the team’s success in 2020.
“I think it’s going to be whoever takes this time and uses this time to prepare the right way will really get the advantage with whatever situation that’s going on (in 2020),” Ginn said. “If you’re still getting your meetings in and guys are taking the proper time. I think that’s what gives you the jump or the edge on everybody else.”
He also said he thinks a veteran team has an advantage with a shortened offseason because players know how to stay in shape. “We have to be in the best shape and best football shape we can be in so we can go out and focus on nothing but X’s and O’s and who we’re playing.”
The 2020 season will bring another unique experience for Ginn as he’ll go from playing for future Hall of Famer and one of the leading passers in the history of the league to a team with an unsettled situation. But Ginn isn’t too concerned about who wins the quarterback battle between Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky.
“They’re both great guys and students of the game trying to put you in the best position,” Ginn said. “I don’t get caught up in what people say. When you go back and look at film, you can see they’re really dialed in to what they like to do. When you’re doing what they like to do, you can prevail and be great.”