Since Mitch Trubisky came back, the Chicago Bears offense has moved the ball better. One of the reasons for that has been the involvement of the tight ends more than they have previously.
In the three games in which Chicago Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky became the starter again, the offense has looked different. The offensive line is playing well. As a result, the running game is better, Trubisky is finding his receivers better, and the Bears are scoring more points. They average about 30 points per game in those three games. In the 10 games before, they averaged just 19 points.
Now, some people would argue that a big reason for that is that the Bears played bad defenses, True, but they’ve played other bad defenses earlier in the season and struggled. The Minnesota Vikings have a soft defense yet the Bears scored 13 points. The Tennessee Titans rank near the bottom defensively yet the Bears had just three points until the fourth quarter when they scored two garbage-time touchdowns. One of the problems of the Green Bay Packers’ defense is forcing turnovers. They rank 27th in total turnovers forced and 24th in interceptions. However, they intercepted Trubisky twice and forced two fumbles, recovering one, when they played in Week 12.
The tight ends have played a part in the improvement
Another aspect of the offense that is improved is the play of the tight ends. Head coach Matt Nagy talked about involving the tight ends more. The tight ends are critical for offensive success in his system. For some reason, the ball wasn’t finding the tight ends despite early success.
Last season, the Chicago Bears tight ends unit recorded 46 catches for 416 yards and just two receiving touchdowns all season. In the first six games, though, Jimmy Graham, Demetrius Harris, both free-agent signings, and Cole Kmet, this year’s second-round draft pick, combined for 30 catches for 265 yards and 5 touchdown catches.
In the Bears’ six-game losing streak, however, the tight ends couldn’t connect with the quarterback, especially in the end zone. The three tight ends combined for 28 catches for 125 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Things changed in Week 14 against the Houston Texans. Graham and Kmet combined for 8 catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. Each player made big catches that either extended a drive or scored a touchdown. It was especially nice to see Kmet break tackles and drag defenders on his way to converting the first down on a third and long. He was very fired up and when he got to the sideline he screamed “They can’t take me down!”
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) December 15, 2020
Keep feeding the tight ends
With the tight ends playing a big part in the win last week, the Bears need to keep feeding them. It turns out that Trubisky knows that as well. He told reporters that when he became the starter again he asked for certain changes. The offense now uses more of his strengths and David Montgomery, Kmet, and Allen Robinson are more involved in the offense. Turns out Montgomery had 113 rushing yards and a touchdown, Robinson had 123 receiving yards and a touchdown, and Kmet had 41 receiving yards (averaged 10.25 yards per catch) and that incredible angry run after the h.
If the Bears want to keep their faint playoff hopes alive, the tight ends have to be involved. Kmet appears to be getting into a groove. He had 37 yards and a touchdown in Week 13 against the Detroit Lions. His confidence is flying high and the Bears need to take advantage of it. Graham shows that he is a dependable red zone target.
The Bears need Kmet to get going now. It may be too late for a real playoff run, but if he shows some success between now and the end of the season it’ll help him in 2021. Graham likely won’t return so Kmet will take over as the starter. Hopefully, he uses the end of this season as a jumpstart for the 2021 season.