Do Chicago Bears coaches like Jesse James over Jimmy Graham?
Every week I find myself writing about Jimmy Graham and the tight end situation as it continues to take another turn for the worst. After an offseason of questioning what Jimmy Graham was doing on the roster, many fans noted that the Chicago Bears needed two tight ends and that Graham was not a backup.
However, he hardly saw the field when Graham was active, and the team limited their two tight end sets. This is so fascinating because as Graham misses two games with an injury, the Bears now run two tight ends, the most often for two straight weeks.
Jesse James played 26 snaps against the Bucs, and followed it with 38 snaps Sunday. That is the number of snaps Graham played in the past three weeks, and 25 is the most he has played all season.
The most two-tight end sets the Bears ran with Graham healthy was 39%. Then, on Sunday, they run 12 personnel 54% of the time. On the season, James is now up to 108 snaps, which trails Graham by one, despite Graham being ahead of him on the depth chart for six weeks.
With his touchdown on Sunday, James ensured that he has better receiving stats than Graham across the board. More catches, more targets, more yards, and more red-zone targets, so anyone thinking Graham would be a red zone threat also was wrong.
James is a better blocker, so this makes sense why the team would feel more comfortable running two tight end sets with him than with Graham. Graham is just a big slow wideout; there is a threat to do both things with James.
Still, this is not some new development. We all knew that Graham was easily replaceable, and there were only so many uses for him. Now, the coaches are showing that they would be better off with a tight end that is in the style of Jesse James and not Graham.
Every week we will continue to touch on the tight end spot because it truly is insane why Graham is on the roster. He is a worse blocker than Jesse James, has less receiving work this year, and it is clear the coaches now prefer James. Even when Graham gets healthy, the Bears would be smart to lean on James in two-tight end sets.