For the third consecutive season, we’re seeing Bears tight end Cole Kmet scratching the surface of that talent.
And this time, it is in an offense that seems to know what to do with its playmakers.
Offensive Coordinator Luke Getsy has done everything to get Kmet involved in the offense the last month. Kmet had another big game on Sunday, catching four passes for 74 yards and a pair of touchdowns. But it isn’t just the scores. Kmet has been getting involved in different ways from getting hand-offs to being schemed open in heavy sets. For instance, the play before Kmet hauled in a 50-yard touchdown pass from Justin Fields, the Bears lined up in 13 personnel — three tight ends — and ran the ball.
On that touchdown play, they ran this same look. The Lions sold out on the expected run play, only to lose track of Kmet in the process:
And let’s not forget this red zone score:
Kmet’s two-touchdown performance gives him five on the season, all of which have come in the last three weeks. Kmet has seen his targets more than double since we saw a shift in the play-calling after the Washington disaster on Thursday Night Football. Only Darnell Mooney (25% of the targets since the mini-bye) has garnered more of a target share than the 19.6% Kmet has gotten in the same stretch of games.
With an increased target share, Kmet has taken full advantage of the opportunity to become a pivotal part of this offense. Kmet ranks in the top 10 among tight ends in most receiving categories and leads the NFL in receiving touchdowns in the last four weeks.
- Targets: 18 (10th among TE)
- Receptions: 13 (10th among TE)
- Yards: 158 (7th among TE)
- Touchdowns: 5 (1st among all eligible receivers)
When chatting with Luis this morning about what we wanted to accomplish today, he reminded me of a story I wrote on Kmet around this time last year in which I thought Kmet was trending toward a breakout.
After Kmet hauled in six passes for 87 yards and a season-high 90.7 PFF grade against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night football, I was expecting Kmet to begin to show flashes of the ceiling that was advertised when the former regime at Halas Hall took him in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. But it wasn’t just the Monday night game against the Steelers that impressed me. Even with a slow patch sprinkled in there where he caught only three passes for 17 yards in weeks two through four, Kmet was 10th in the NFL among tight ends in targets (42) and 12th in catches (28) at that point. Kmet caught 32 more passes in the Bears’ final eight games but never got into the endzone, and while there was real growth from year one to year two for Kmet, it left something to be desired.
I went back even further in the BN archives and found a post from Luis writing about Kmet finally trending in the right direction in December 2020. The talent has always been there, and we’ve seen flashes of what Kmet is capable of, but Matt Nagy’s coaching staff didn’t know what to do with it.
Fast forward to November 2022, and Kmet isn’t just trending in the right direction — he’s in the middle of a full-blown breakout. We’ve got seven more games to go, but the Kmet coming-out party is in full swing with the Fields-Kmet connection cooking with gas.
Losing Sunday’s game in the fashion in which the Bears did — a fourth-quarter defensive collapse with Fields’ worst throw in recent memory sprinkled in — stings big time. And while I’m not concerned about wins and losses this season, losing games late like that and against a team like the Lions, feels icky. And winning those types of games is something the Bears will need to figure out moving forward. After all, developing players is getting them to learn how to win. And, more specifically, close games.
But that time will come. In the meantime, we can focus on the development of the key players for the time being. And no one on that offense other than Fields has made more strides in their development in recent weeks than Kmet.