Chicago Bears training camp preview: The tight ends

Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports /

As the 2023 NFL season approaches, the Chicago Bears tight end group is poised to make significant strides in the league. The tight end position has seen an evolution in the NFL, and it now serves as a dual threat in the passing and blocking game. The Bears have understood this transformation and have assembled a tight end unit that promises to be dynamic, multifaceted, and influential in their offensive game plan. Let’s take a closer look at what to expect from this crucial group.

Like the other position groups, the Chicago Bears tight ends unit was strengthened this offseason.

At the forefront is the Bears’ starting tight end, Cole Kmet, who is coming off an impressive 2022 season in terms of scoring (seven touchdown catches). Known for his reliable hands and crisp route running, he has emerged as one of the most dependable targets for Bears quarterback Justin Fields. Last season he became one of Fields’ most reliable targets, leading the team in receptions and yards.

The touchdown catches were significant. Kmet went 28 straight games without a touchdown reception. While many were pleased with his yards (612 yards in 2021), the touchdown numbers were a concern.

Then, suddenly, Kmet became a touchdown machine. He scored five touchdowns in three games. His success coincided with a period in which the Chicago Bears offense was rolling. In Weeks 8-10 (in which Kmet went on his touchdown spree), the offense scored 91 points.

In 2023, the team hopes Kmet is again very much involved in the offense’s success. They have high hopes that he has a breakout season and combines his yards and touchdowns, to go along with his blocking, to have success. He is in the final year of his rookie contract so he wants to perform well and stay in Chicago. He is from Lake Barrington so he wants to remain close to home.

Kmet’s physicality and size make him a mismatch for most defensive backs, and his agility is often too much for linebackers to handle. Expect him to be a focal point of the Bears’ passing game and continue to serve as an efficient red-zone target.

Behind Kmet, the Bears have Robert Tonyan. Tonyan comes over from the Green Bay Packers. This is where offensive coordinator Luke Getsy came from as well so Tonyan has a good understanding of what the system is about. He won’t have the learning curve that many of the other players experienced.

Like Kmet, Tonyan is a local kid, having gone to McHenry High School. He’s stayed in the Midwest his entire career, attending Indiana State University and then Green Bay. Now he is back home.

Tonyan has shown a knack for making big plays. In 2020, he had 11 touchdown receptions. With his familiarity with the offense and working together with Kmet, he will be a big asset for the offense.

Having an effective tight-end duo will be a huge asset for the Chicago Bears. Last season, the help behind Kmet was practically nonexistent. Ryan Griffin, Trevon Wesco, and Jake Tonges combined for just 6 catches for 52 yards. Now, though, the team has two starting-caliber tight ends who could wreak havoc, especially in the red zone.

With Kmet and Tonyan, Chicago could utilize the two tight end sets. That adds another wrinkle that the defense has to contend with. Additionally, with an improved wide receiver corps, the tight ends will have more room to operate underneath. They will get their chances to make big plays.

Tonges returns to battle for the third tight end spot. His competition will be Stephen Carlson and Chase Allen.

Aside from their on-field contributions, these players provide leadership and experience, fostering a positive atmosphere and serving as mentors for younger players. With the team going through a youth movement, Kmet and Tonyan are the experienced veterans who could help the youngsters.

The tight end group’s success will depend on their ability to execute their dual roles effectively. The Bears will need their tight ends to make key catches in the passing game and provide solid blocking in the run game. Their versatility will be a crucial aspect of the Bears’ offensive strategy.

The Bears’ tight end unit looks primed for a strong 2023 season. They have a unit that can cause problems for opposing defenses. As the season draws closer, fans will be eager to see how this unit develops and contributes to the Bears’ offensive efforts. All signs point to the tight ends playing a significant role in the Bears’ success in the upcoming NFL season.