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Bears Second-Year TE Cole Kmet Is Quietly Breaking Out

Chicago Bears

Drafted in the second round with the Bears’ top overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, second-year tight end Cole Kmet had an underwhelming rookie season, in which he logged just 28 receptions, 243 yards, and a pair of touchdowns on 44 targets. But things are looking up.

So far this year, Kmet has already reached that 44 target threshold set last season, and has hauled in 28 catches for 284 yards. No, he hasn’t gotten into the end zone just yet, but he’s effectively already topped his production from last year, even with a slow patch sprinkled in there where he caught only three passes for 17 yards in weeks two through four.

And since that dismal three-week stretch, Kmet has really dialed up the intensity:

 

https://twitter.com/runbackdave/status/1458105449228738569

Monday night’s loss to the Steelers was Kmet’s best game as a pro, catching six passes for 87 yards, and Pro Football Focus’ second-best grade among tight ends in Week 9 at 90.7.

With a growing connection between Kmet and Fields, Kmet’s usage and production is trending up quickly. According to Pro Football Focus, Kmet ranks 10th in the NFL among tight ends in targets (42) and 12th in catches (28). But you can look beyond the stat sheet for confirmation.

Check out this connection between the two on 2nd & 2 on the Steelers 31 yard line during a scoring drive for the Bears offense to close out the first half (and look at Justin Fields set his feet as if he’s going to throw a sideline curl to Allen Robinson). However, Minkah Fitzpatrick bites hard on the look to the sideline, and Cole Kmet is left open downfield over the middle for an easy gain of 21 yards.

Right before this play, Fields nailed Kmet on an eight-yard hook up to get the Bears to the Pittsburgh 31-yard line, a play in which Fields fit the ball in between two defenders, and Kmet did a great job of securing the catch while absorbing contact from both sides.

Here’s another catch for Cole Kmet, this time, he makes the catch near the sideline and does an excellent job of securing the catch and making sure that he gets his feet down before the sideline to establish possession on a 25-yard connection with 9:12 to play in the second quarter.

Kmet might have had his first touchdown of the season here if Fields had looked his way instead of deciding to keep it himself.

 

Fields does an excellent job of seeing green grass to his right side, but he locks in on his decision to run too early and misses Cole Kmet streaking beyond the Pittsburgh secondary for what would have been a huge touchdown for the Bears.

Sure, the overall numbers don’t quite jump out at you just yet. And, yes, Kmet (rightfully) took some heat for the ugly drops and bad routes during Weeks 2-4, but now that he and Fields are building chemistry and Kmet’s usage has shot up, I would expect to see Kmet continue to break out here in his sophomore season.

Cole Kmet was mic’d up on Monday Night Football; check out Kmet’s performance and commentary on the Bears’ Week 9 loss to the Steelers.



Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.