It was clear the Bears had big plans for Cole Kmet in the season. The third-year tight end would be their second most reliable pass-catcher, highlighted in offensive coordinator Luke Getsy's scheme.
All the offseason work with quarterback Justin Fields pointed to the Notre Dame product finally having a breakout season that matched his potential. Through two weeks, that hasn't been the case.
Kmet has zero catches and only two targets in the first two games. The Bears have struggled to get him and No. 1 wide receiver Darnell Mooney involved while the passing attack struggles to find its footing.
Former Bears tight end Zach Miller is a big fan of Kmet. He believes he has the potential to be a top-tier tight end in the NFL. Miller faced his own struggles early in his career and has some specific mindset advice for Kmet.
"It's one of those things like it's a cliche thing, you just got to put the blinders on," Miller said on the latest episode of the "Under Center Podcast." "A lot of coaches use that, you know, the blinders or the earmuffs or whatever they say, don't listen to anybody because, at the end of the day, that will piss you off even more. I think if he's confident in his abilities, truly, if he's confident in himself and what he knows he can do, it's just a matter of working and grinding until it starts to happen.
"And then you basically force them to start using more. Right? You got to force them to say, 'Okay, he's getting open, or he's doing this.' Even if the ball's not coming his way right now, you have got to get to a point where you're saying, 'Hey, look, I need this here, I need this ball here.' Start to force them to throw your way and make some plays."
Miller spent three seasons with the Bears and still feels deeply connected to the franchise and the city. He sees what everyone sees in Kmet. An athletically gifted pass-catcher built for the modern NFL.
He also knows how frustrating it is for anyone, not just Kmet, to be known solely for what they might one day become and not what they provide on the field.
"Nobody wants to be the potential guy because it doesn't mean you're producing at that moment," Miller said. "He's had flashes of being a really good tight end. And it's not all just catching the football. There's other things he's doing well in the run game and producing in different aspects. But in today's day and age, you got to have some type of production, or you're just kind of limited in what you're doing offensively."
Miller mentioned several times that the Bears have to give Kmet more opportunities to make plays. How is he supposed to break out with one target a game?
Head coach Matt Eberflus is on the same page. That starts with opening up the passing game for Kmet and Mooney.
"In the passing game, let's highlight our skill," Eberflus said Monday. "Let's feed the guys that have skill that can take a short throw and turn it into a big gain, that can go downtown. And we have a good deep ball thrower so we should utilize that too. And we're going to look at all aspects of that."
The Bears' offense won't be able to thrive without Kmet being a significant factor. But they have been unable to get him the ball to this point.
Kmet just might have to force their hand.