There's a chance – albeit a small one – that the Bears' lack of tight end production may end up being the best thing that could have happened to this offense. 

Much was made about the offensive panic that would ensue when Trey Burton and Adam Shaheen were put on IR. They hadn't produced all season, but Nagy's offense is predicated on production from both the 'Y' and 'U' positions. If you break the season into quarters, which NFL teams commonly do, the Bears' issues at the position are magnified. Take a look at the personnel groupings from each quarter of the season so far: 

 

Weeks (Record)

11 (3WR)

12 (2WR)

21 (2WR)

10 (4WR)

1-4 (3-1)

56%

15%

16%

1%

5-8 (0-4)

69%

7%

8%

10%

9-12 (3-1)

58%

15%

10%

8%

It's interesting, though probably not surprising, that the Bears' offense looked most out-of-whack during that middle quarter. Shaheen's decline was clear by then, made even more evident by the fact that two of his lowest snapcounts of the season came in that stretch (OAK/LAC). Burton was still playing close to 50% of the snaps, but was averaging three targets (and 1.5 receptions) a week – not ideal production considering he was basically the only option the Bears had; the tight end trust was at an all-time low. Then something happened. Here's the exact same personnel chart, but with success rates: 

 

11 (3WR)

12 (2WR)

21 (2WR)

10 (4WR)

W. 1-4 (3-1)

46%

38%

33%

50%

W. 5-8 (0-4)

45%

50%

31%

50%

W. 9-12 (3-1)

41%

39%

38%

50%

Two things pop out. First, the Bears have found some comfort with two tight end sets again. The combination of Ben Braunecker, JP Holtz and Jesper Horsted isn't the most inspiring group across football, but it's clearly working for what Nagy, Mark Helfrich, and company want to do.

 

Arguably more notable is the fact that, even as the offense adjusted back into familiar territory, the Bears kept those 4-WR sets around. The success rate stayed the same, but after running only two plays in that set through Weeks 1-4, that skyrocketed to 14 the following quarter. And then they ran 18 in Weeks 9-12. Why? Because over the last month, the Bears have been one of the best offenses in football with four recievers on the field. Per Sharp Stats:

10 personnel, Weeks 9-12: 
Pass Rate:
 83%
Successful Pass%: 53%
Dropbacks: 15
Pass Att: 14
Pass Comp: 8
Passer Rating: 96.4
Pass TDs:INT: 1:0
YPA: 5.5
Air Yds Per Att: 12.3
Sacks: 1

"Some of that is dictated just because of the tight-end position right now," Nagy said on Monday. "But we’ve had success with it and I think it’s a good ability for us to get some weapons out there, some different receivers, so the thing with this offense, is being able to change personnel at times. So with the lack of tight-end experience, we’ve done more of that.

This season, 11 NFL teams have run between 30-50 plays with four receivers on the field (we're excluding Arizona because they run almost entirely out of 10 and kill the curve). Of that group, only three teams – Seattle, New England and Chicago – have success rates over 50%.

It's still not being utilized very often, however. The Bears have only run 10+ plays out of 10 personnel twice this season: Week 8 against the Chargers (11) and Week 10 against Detroit (12). For whatever it's worth, both of those games feature some of Trubisky's better stats from this season (yes even the Chargers game).

"I think it's a combination of trying to get your best guys on the field, your best 11 on the field in any given situation," Helfrich added. "It just hasn't been the ideal combination that everybody maybe envisioned going into the season. But we have to do that, and our guys — not only the tight ends and assorted others who have played that position, or additional running backs, somebody plugging in those other spots — [have] helped out."