Choo-choo! The Chicago Bears hype train continues to roll through Packers Week and it’s not slowing down until it arrives in Green Bay.
The latest fueling comes from Pro Football Focus, which released its All-Preseason Team and featured Bears tight end Trey Burton as the highest-graded player at the position this summer. Chicago signed Burton to be a major part of a revamped group of pass-catchers with the hope of getting the most out of quarterback Mitch Trubisky. And while the Bears’ first-team offense didn’t get a ton of snaps together during preseason games, PFF’s Gordon McGuinness believes there is reason to be optimistic in the new-look unit. From a Burton-specific angle, McGuinness notes that Burton averaged 2.94 yards per route run, which was the fourth highest among tight ends who received five targets.
Tight ends received quite the workout throughout the preseason. Burton, Daniel Brown, Ben Braunecker, Adam Shaheen, and Colin Thompson combined to make 29 catches, gain 378 receiving yards, and score two touchdowns. Chicago’s collection of tight ends combined to receive 22.6 percent of the total targets thrown by Bears quarterbacks in the five-game exhibition season. Yeah, so it’s probably not a coincidence that Burton was as productive during the preseason as PFF’s data suggests. And if Mitch Trubisky can successfully continue his rapport with Burton, then it’s likely that the Bears offense will flow from there.
Trubisky’s numbers were pedestrian (at best) last year, but a glimpse at how he performed when targeting tight ends provides a glimmer of hope for what an upgraded tight end group and a renewed focus on exploiting mismatches could bring. As a rookie, Trubisky had a respectable 85.8 passer rating throwing to Brown, Shaheen, Dion Sims, and Zach Miller. If we just count the returning tight-ends (Sims, Shaheen, Brown), that passer rating number bumps to 92.4. That’s good. Also good: A minuscule 1.8 percent interception rate when throwing to tight ends.
Compare that to the 75.0 rating Trubisky posted when throwing to wide receivers and running backs and the point is easily received.
The numbers numbers that suggest Trubisky could unlock some potential moving forward by targeting his tight ends more often. And under the direction of Matt Nagy, the Bears seem poised to make Burton and the rest of the group a focal point of the offense moving forward.