How much more “12” personnel will Chicago Bears run in 2020?

Chicago Bears (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bears added two tight ends, how often will they see the field together?

One thing that Matt Nagy has preached since the Chicago Bears hired him was the usage of multiple tight end packages. “12” personnel which refers to 1 running backs and 2 tight ends on the field was a personnel set that he planned to bring to Chicago and utilize frequently. He even talked about the usage of “22” and “13” personnel, meaning 2 backs, and 2 tight ends, or even 1 running back with 3 tight ends on the field.

Of course, to run plays with two or three tight ends on the field, you need two or three capable tight ends. That has been an issue for Nagy who saw Adam Shaheen bust, and an over-usage of Trey Burton turned into too many injuries.

After burning out those options, the Bears reloaded this offseason with Jimmy Graham, Cole Kmet, and Demetrius Harris. Adding two and potentially three tight ends who can see the field together gives Nagy a reasonable chance to dig deeper into the depths of his offense. The question is, how much will these tight ends see the field together?

In Nagy’s first year in Chicago, the Bears had at least two tight ends on the field for 22% of their snaps. However, due to the injury to Adam Shaheen in training camp, that is on the low number of how much he wanted to see that look. For comparison, the Kansas City Chiefs had at least two tight ends on the field 33% in 2018, and their second tight end was Harris.

The Eagles ran two tight ends 46% of the time, and while that is an optimistic view for the Bears, it is likely that Nagy looks to his friend Doug Pederson and would like to run an offense based off of tight ends in a similar manner. At the very least he would like to get back to the 33% that his mentor Andy Reid ran.

While those are comparisons to coaches Nagy has worked with and looks to emulate, the league average for two tight end sets was 34%. That is right in line with the Chiefs and much higher than anything Nagy has run.

In 2019, with all of the tight end flux, two were on the field just 15% of the time in Chicago. Once again, to gauge names around him, the Chiefs ran 34% and Eagles all the way up to 61% last year with the emergence of Dallas Goedert. League average was once again 34%. Nagy, who claimed he wanted to run more two tight end sets than most teams, ran two tight ends 19% less than average in 2019.

In 2017, when Nagy took over play-calling in Kansas City for a brief period of time, the Chiefs ran two-tight end looks 37% of the time. Again, Harris was the primary tight end two, and he is now a third-string option for Nagy.

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Still, while Nagy would love for Graham to be an impact performer such as Ertz, and Kmet to emerge like Goedert, the fair comparison is Kansas City. He ran 37% two tight ends in his final season, but the Chiefs continued to run 33%, and 34% the following two seasons. That would be over double the usage in 2019 for Nagy and over 10% more than what he ran in 2018.

Considering they drafted a tight end with their first pick and paid a tight end high-end dollars for the position, the Chicago Bears should be looking to hit two tight ends on the field at a 33-37 clip in 2020.