The Chicago Bears made a concerted effort to upgrade their tight ends unit. So far, with Jimmy Graham and Cole Kmet, it looks like there is an improvement.
The Chicago Bears offense struggled mightily in 2019 on all levels. The rushing game only averaged 3.7 yards per rush, ranking 29th. The offensive line suffered through injuries and too many penalties. Aside from Allen Robinson and later on Anthony Miller, the wide receiver group didn’t do much. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky struggled to make decisions and hit receivers.
Another group that struggled was the tight ends unit. This unit might have struggled the most on offense. There was almost no contribution coming from the tight ends. The players who made up the unit combined for 46 catches for 416 yards and 2 touchdowns. No tight end reached 100 receiving yards.
The tight end is an important part of head coach Matt Nagy’s system. He is an Andy Reid disciple so he runs a similar kind of offense. That offense requires good tight end play. The Philadelphia Eagles, whose coach, Doug Pederson, is also an Andy Reid disciple, had Zach Ertz, a Pro Bowl tight end, helping them win the Super Bowl in 2017.
Reid himself finally won his own Super Bowl, using another Pro Bowl tight end, Travis Kelce, to grab the title.
The Bears spent the offseason trying to improve the tight ends unit. They went out and signed former All-Pro Jimmy Graham. Some say that was a bad choice and that the Bears should’ve gone after younger tight ends. However, that signing wasn’t the only one. They drafted Cole Kmet in the second round (43rd overall) of this year’s draft. Kmet, out of Notre Dame, is the future. Graham is in Chicago not only to perform on the field but also to mentor Kmet. He’s already doing it and Kmet is soaking everything up.
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Graham helped Kmet a great deal, being a great teammate. Despite him being the outright starter, Graham knows that Kmet will replace him eventually. In the meantime, he’s doing what he can to help the rookie. Kmet appreciates it.
He’s been awesome to me. He’s helped me out a lot. It’s pretty cool being around a guy like that who’s been in the league as long as he’s been, and obviously he knows a lot and has seen a lot. So any knowledge that I can get from him is going to be a huge benefit for me. He’s been more than willing to help me, and I’m really excited to get going and continue learning from him throughout the season.
Graham pretty impressive himself
Kmet impressed the coaching staff during zoom meetings with how quickly he picked things up. Then he shows how much he learned by going out and performing well in training camp. He’s making nice catches and impressing everyone who watches him.
Don’t get it wrong, Graham isn’t just an old man who’s helping the kid develop. He’s putting in work himself and doing well in training camp himself. The Bears felt he wasn’t a fit with the Green Bay Packers. The offense didn’t use him much and he just wasn’t happy.
Graham seems rejuvenated in Chicago. While in Green Bay, he didn’t engage much with the media. With the Bears, he jokes around with them and he sounds excited to be there. He’s engaging during practices and shows that he still has plenty in the tank to help the Bears in 2020.
If the Chicago Bears’ tight ends group has a good season it bodes well for the offense. With the great defense, it doesn’t take much for the Bears to improve upon their 8-8 record of last season and make a run for the playoffs.