5 Chicago Bears under the most pressure to perform in 2022

Chicago Bears - Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Bears - Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /
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Chicago Bears, Cole Kmet
Chicago Bears – Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports /

Chicago Bears player No. 4: Cole Kmet

Cole Kmet was statistically a much better player in 2021 than he was as a rookie, but the increased production doesn’t mean the concerns surrounding him have vanished. The biggest reason people are pessimistic about Kmet’s upside is his below-average agility and movement skills.

Kmet isn’t a bad athlete; he has about average straight-line speed for the position and has solid explosion. The problem he has is with his lateral quickness. The inability to go in and out of breaks without losing speed makes it challenging for Kmet to routinely create separation from the defender and get yardage after the catch. Not only are these crucial parts of a tight end’s game in 2022, but these aren’t usually fixable.

This isn’t to suggest that Kmet needs to be an elite tight end to stay on the team; it just leads many to wonder how much more room Kmet has to grow. Matt Nagy’s offense was bad for scoring points and winning games, but it wasn’t bad for every single player’s statistical output.

A team with depleted receiver depth and pass catchers that struggled to get open was great for Kmet’s usage as a safety valve in the passing game. Part of the reason Kmet got so many targets in the Bears’ offense was that the receivers couldn’t get open downfield, and Fields or Dalton would check it down.

Thankfully for Bears fans, the Matt Nagy offense is a thing of the past, and that means Kmet will need to find other ways to make a difference in the passing game. If he can’t develop into anything more than a short-yardage run-blocking tight end, the Bears will need to bring in other guys at the position.