Let’s Not Sleep on the Budding Justin Fields-Cole Kmet Connection

The Justin Fields-Darnell Mooney tandem is every Bears fan’s favorite. That duo works hard – together and individually – and plays hard. And after an offseason in which the two have been putting up workouts to let the bromance grow, there is ample optimism surrounding what this dynamic duo can do in 2022.

But it isn’t the only intriguing tag team the Bears can trot out this year.

Let’s not sleep on the Fields-Cole Kmet pairing, which we’ll be watching with great interest moving forward.

Kmet’s preseason debut was brief but fun. It was just one series, but it featured two catches and 31 receiving yards in what ultimately resulted in a scoring drive. It wasn’t a touchdown, but I’m not one to take for granted an opening-drive field goal. Perhaps as important as putting points on the board was Kmet’s role in doing so. The tight end usage was inconsistent when Matt Nagy and Bill Lazor were calling plays. So to see Luke Getsy orchestrate a drive that was successful in showcasing Kmet’s potential was refreshing.

Again, it’s just two catches. But we didn’t see Kmet used in this manner much (if at all) over the last two years. From this particular angle, you can see how this play was as important to Fields’ development of good mechanics as a rollout passer in this offense as it was to get Kmet going as a pass catcher:

That play is equal parts good scheme and execution from the quarterback and tight end. It’s the type of connection you’d like to see more of in an offense that still has questions at receiver outside of Mooney. There will be opportunities for Fields to hit plays like these. Especially when teams need to account for the possibility of the Bears running the ball, Fields being a rusher on a rollout, and Mooney possibly streaking down the field behind a defense that might have other priorities. This is the type of play that Getsy could build off and branch out into plays for other options. As it stands now, it’s a nice pitch-and-catch between a QB and his safety blanket TE across the middle. And it’s a connection that should be there time and again if teams grow too concerned with stopping Mooney.

And then there is this throw. It’s a simple screen. But it is the type of play we’ve seen the Bears fail to complete time and again. Witnessing Fields and Kmet being in sync to break off a first-down gain here was an eye-opener to me:

As was the case on the rollout, we saw a good play call (way to combat Seattle copycatting the early pressure Kansas City threw at the Bears on the first snap last week) and solid execution. On top of that, we saw Kmet run through would-be tacklers and move the chains. In other words, we saw a confidence-building easy throw from Fields and a play that should instill some confidence in Kmet. Nothing like getting a lather going on your first play from scrimmage by catching the first pass that comes your way and rumbling through the defense. That’ll get the blood flowing!

In short, Kmet was underutilized during the Nagy regime. And it is among the reasons why the buzz surrounding the potential Kmet can have with Fields in the offense has paled in comparison to what Mooney can do with Fields. But maybe that needs to stop. Perhaps we need to add a Fields-Kmet watch to our to-do list. Because if Kmet is in an offense that uses him as an option for Fields to make easy throws and tosses that can move the chains because defensive eyes are elsewhere, then we could see a Kmet breakout.

It is unfortunate Kmet didn’t get steady opportunities to shine in his first two seasons. But if Thursday’s flashes were a glimpse at what could be, then the Bears offense will have an additional layer of intrigue we weren’t expecting. And I’m totally here for pleasant surprises.

written by

Luis C. Medina, who you can find on Twitter at lcm1986, has been covering the Chicago Bears at Bleacher Nation since 2017. Since then, he has written about 3 head coaches, 5 play-callers, and 11 starting quarterbacks. Previously, Luis wrote about the Cubs and MLB at BN (2015-16) and worked in the Chicago Tribune sports department (2011-16). He also co-hosted a Cubs postgame show, Outside the Ivy, in 2019.

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