As we learn more about the new Bears offense under Luke Getsy, it’s become clear that there will be more of an emphasis on the run game than there was in Matt Nagy’s scheme. The team seems set to use the run as a foundation upon which they can build their passing attack. Included in that should be more opportunities for third-year tight end Cole Kmet to make an impact. The Bears have put Kmet in several scenarios to see how much he can handleー like they’ve done with many playersー and so far they like what they see.
“Cole is still young in his career and he has a lot of really cool tools,” said Luke Getsy. “I think he’s starting to learn how to use them. You talk about a guy that we hope can do a lot of different things. We’ve lined him up wide. We’ve let him do some routes outside. We’ve brought him in tight. We’ve put him in line and making him block the big boys up front too and I think the cool part about him is that he can do all of that stuff really well.”
Kmet’s teammates notice a difference between this year’s training camp, and last year, too.
“You just see him a lot now,” said Darnell Mooney. “He’s making a lot of noise like, ‘I’m here.’ So, just himself, individually-wise, he’s turning it on for sure.”
Tight end is one of the hardest positions to learn in the NFL, but still, Kmet has had a ho-hum start to his career. In two seasons he’s caught 88 balls for 855 yards and two touchdowns. Last year, he was held out of the end zone completely. This year, Kmet has flashed more in practice. We’ve seen him connect with Fields for long completions up the seam. We’ve seen the Bears get the ball in Kmet’s hands behind a screen. And yes, we’ve seen Kmet with touchdowns in the red zone, too.
“I think he’s on the brink right now of taking his game to another level,” said Getsy. “So I am hopeful that by the time we get through this camp he is ready to be a rock star for us because we’re going to need him to be.”
Getsy has challenged Kmet to improve in every area, because of his importance to the offense. It looks like he’s made progress, and Kmet credits the new staff, and some new drills for helping him take another step forward in his development this summer.
“These one-on-one drills have been great for me just working press and things like that,” said Kmet. “Getting feedback from Luke (Getsy) and (assistant tight ends coach) Tim Zetts, those two guys have been real helpful with me with my releases.”
Sometimes the new releases work. Sometimes they don’t. Either way, Kmet counts it as progress.
“It's encouraging when things work and you add it to the tool box. Then, when things don't work, you know you just chalk it up to, ‘Alright, I'm not going to do that one again.’”
Beyond the new releases, there are things that Kmet can experiment with, within a route. Coaches have given him the freedom to try different techniques whether he’s matched up against a linebacker, or a cornerback, or a safety, for example.
One of those safeties who’s gotten to cover Kmet is Eddie Jackson.
“Cole’s a big dude,” said Jackson. “He knows how to use his body and his weight very well.”
Without Jimmy Graham on the team, Kmet said he’s ready to be the guy in the red zone now. He recognizes that Graham had a unique skillset which allowed him to succeed near the goal line, but Kmet also believes there are things he picked up from Graham that he can implement in his own game, like body positioning. Now it’s a matter of repping things so he feels more and more comfortable.
“I think this last week or so I definitely felt like I was playing a little more fast with this offense, knowing where to be at, how to get there in a timely manner,” Kmet said. I think just the understanding of the offense, trusting my tools and what I have and what I can do is just gonna get me there.”
After Kmet fielded many questions about his personal growth and his personal production, he wanted to make it clear that he’s more eager for more wins, rather than padding his stat sheet.
“This whole thing is about winning,” Kmet said. “That’s where the impatience comes from. You want to be on a winning team. And I can tell you this, if we’re winning games, in turn everybody else is going to be doing pretty well, and that includes me.
“I think that’s where the impatience mostly sets in. You want to win games for this franchise. I’m a kid who grew up in this area and I want to be part of a winning team here, and a team that’ll go and win a Super Bowl. That’s what I want to be part of. That’s where the impatience sets in. You want to see that happen. And sometimes it just takes a little bit of a process for that to happen.”