Chicago Bears Bye Week Questions: Is Cole Kmet ready to breakout?

(Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images) /

If you recall the rookie season that Cole Kmet had with the Chicago Bears, you remember that it was very much a two-part story. Before the Bears’ bye week, the team barely got him on the field. He averaged just eight yards per game and was a non-factor.

Then, the bye week came, and he was thrust into the starting line. Cole Kmet finished the year averaging 26.1 yards in the team’s final six games.

As we are halfway through year two for Kmet, plenty of fans have questions and doubts about what he can become. His first half was not near his rookie season, but he is averaging just 31 yards per game, compared to 26.1 to close last year.

Most of that is aided from a six-catch, 87-yard performance against the Steelers the week before the bye week as well. Still, perhaps this game is a statement, and Justin Fields can start to find Kmet more in the second half.

It had already happened once that Kmet and the Bears went into the bye and came out with a plan to get him more looks, and after Monday’s game, that should be the plan in 2021. Beyond that, Kmet is working with his QB of the future now, and not a mix of Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky,

Fields did not get enough time with Kmet in training camp because of Andy Dalton, so now the two have this extra week to build on, which should be significant.

Perhaps the biggest note to take away from the Kmet career-high game against Pittsburgh was his air yards. Kmet had 83 air yards against the Steelers. The next highest mark in his career is 35, and that came last season.

Last season and early into this year, the Bears have not been able to work downfield or even beyond 5 yards when getting Kmet the ball. That changed dramatically against the Steelers.

Next. Reasonable goals to finish Justin Fields season. dark

The combination of Kmet being used down the field more, Fields having more time to gel with him, and Kmet having a post-bye bump last season all point to the idea that the second half of Kmet could be closer to 60 yards per game than the 31 yards per game he producing right now.