The arrival of head coach Matt Nagy to the Chicago Bears has already brought much buzz about the team’s potential offensive improvement for the 2018 season. Nagy, a part of the Andy Reid coaching tree, is believed to lead this Bears offense into another stratosphere with second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, and an arsenal of explosive weapons.
Of course, we all know about Chicago’s offseason signing of free-agent wide receiver Allen Robinson. In addition, the Bears are still anxiously waiting for Kevin White to prove his worth as a 2015 first-round draft pick. However, what about the tight end position?
Chicago did add five-year veteran tight end Trey Burton from the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. For now, Burton is slated to be the No. 1 tight end on the Bears’ depth chart, and has not been a big part of the offense thus far in the preseason. Despite his lack of playing time this early in the exhibition period, Chicago’s entire group of tight ends just might have a bigger role in their offense in 2018 than most expect.
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In the Bears’ 30-27 preseason loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, their tight ends were one of the few bright spots of their offensive performance. Chicago’s quarterbacks combined for 299 passing yards, with 168 of those yards going to their tight ends (56 percent of the team’s passing yardage). Daniel Brown led the way with five catches for 90 yards (both game-highs), while Adam Shaheen chipped in with three receptions for 53 yards. This type of productivity could be just a glimpse of what’s to come once the regular season begins.
Last year, the Bears’ corps of tight ends amassed for just 672 receiving yards (22 percent of Chicago’s passing yards). Even after going on injured reserve with a horrific leg injury, Zach Miller was the leader of the bunch with 236 yards. With Robinson, White, rookie wide receiver Anthony Miller, and dynamic running back Tarik Cohen coming out of the backfield on passing downs, the Bears’ tight ends should be in prime position to take advantage of open opportunities over the middle of the field.
Other than Mike Ditka, the city of Chicago has never seen a tight end put up big numbers on a consistent basis. I’m not saying that any of the current tight ends on the Bears’ roster will reach Hall of Fame status like Ditka. However, if this second preseason game gives us any indication, Chicago’s tight ends will be a crucial part of the offensive attack in 2018, and will be vastly improved from last season.