Chicago Bears make this depth chart switch

Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports /

Jimmy Graham missed time during weeks seven and eight due to COVID. Many Chicago Bears fans did not see it impacting anything because Graham had hardly been used anyways. However, it gave the team a chance to use Jesse James, and since then, they have gone to multiple tight end sets more often.

The usage of Jesse James was surprising to see when Graham was out. They were not using two tight ends with Graham, and once he went out they started to use them with James. The Bears losing Graham for a week just so happened to open the door for James to surpass him on the depth chart.

It was surprising when James played more like the second tight end than Graham ever did, but the trend continued even when Graham came back. It is funny to note, but the Bears also increased their three tight end set usage, which meant that Graham has played more the past three weeks than any other stretch of the year.

However, in that same stretch, he has 20 fewer snaps than Jesse James. Jimmy Graham has 44 snaps played in the three games he has been active since going out.  He played 18, 12, and 14, showing that his role has been consistent every week.

However, James has played 64 snaps, and they have been split down to 22, 19, and 23.

It is interesting to note the usage indifference as well. Overall, James has five more run block snaps while Graham has five more routes run. This makes plenty of sense when you understand their roles.

However, the difference in 20 snaps comes solely from pass blocking. Graham is not asked to pass block, while James has been asked to stay in and block nearly 7 times per game over the past three weeks.

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Again, this does make sense considering the team does not want to waste Cole Kmet, one of their best pass-catchers by asking him to block. However, they need to help their tackles and the Chicago Bears learned that the hard way. It was hard to trust Jimmy Graham as an extra blocker. They were not using James ahead of Graham until Graham gave them a reason, but once he did, they realized that they are better off with Jesse James. So, Jimmy Graham is officially the Chicago Bears’ third tight end.