UA-59049186-1 Chicago Bears 2023 Season Preview: Tight End - Good if it Goes

Chicago Bears 2023 Season Preview: Tight End

Swing for the fences. [Photo: Brett Davis – USA Today]

Cole Kmet leads the tight end group for the 2023 Bears. More or less a Kyle Rudolph clone, Kmet does everything well, but nothing great. He doesn’t possess the speed to separate and be a true matchup nightmare like Travis Kelce, but he is a quality receiver, runs good routes, and last year, had a nose for the end zone, catching 7 TD passes. A fourth-year man out of Notre Dame, which at this point has to be known as Good But Not Great Tight End U, Kmet just got an extension in the offseason. While it was for a little more money than your author would have liked to give him, given the “but not great” thing, Kmet is a solid, steady presence and the Bears could do worse. Expect more seasons in the 500-600 yard receiving range and quality run blocking.

As teams started putting more speedy receivers on the field, defenses adapted by playing more and more nickel, to the point that nickel is effectively base coverage in today’s NFL. They also play more and more 2-high, designed to take away those long gamebreaking plays from said receivers. The way to attack these defenses is 12 personnel. Personnel groups are named by the number of running backs on the field for a play followed by the number of tight ends, so 12 is 1 running back and 2 tight ends. 11 is one running back and one tight end, 21 is two running backs and one tight end, you get the picture. What 12 personnel allows you to do is always make the defense be wrong. Want to sit in nickel with two high safeties? Cool, we’re gonna run it down your throat. Want to bring in another linebacker for run support? He better be able to play pass coverage. Add in a dynamic threat like Justin Fields at QB and you can be really dangerous. 

Running 12p effectively requires 2 legit tight ends. You may be familiar with the designations TE-Y and TE-U, where Y is the in-line tight end (someone like Kmet) and U is more of a receiving tight end. The Bears now have their TE-U in Robert Tonyan. A sixth-year man out of Indiana State, Big Bob was approaching certified problem status in 2020, getting close to 600 receiving yards and catching 11 touchdown passes while playing for they who shall not be named. A knee injury ended his 2021 prematurely and last year, he was starting to resemble his old self, amassing 470 receiving yards and a pair of TDs. If he’s now fully back to 2020 form, he, and the offense as a whole, could be really dangerous. 

Marcedes Lewis is also here as Luke Getsy brings in his old buddies. I wonder if he and Captain Ayahuasca had a draft to see who gets who. Anyway, yes Big Dog is still in the league. Entering his 18th season, Lewis hasn’t been a serious receiving threat for years. He’s still a dominant blocker, though, so there’s definitely value in him as TE3. He should see a handful of snaps during games, largely on run downs, but his presence also allows the Bears to do some 13p stuff that could be fun, especially in the red zone.

Whatever Elmo’s calling it nowThreads: @312sportsguy

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