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Cole Kmet's Bid for More Paydirt

The need to get into the end zone more has Bears tight end Cole Kmet pointing toward improvements to his game within the red zone.

Bears tight end Cole Kmet remembers two passes from last year very well.

One was an incompletion off his hand in the end zone against San Francisco when he appeared to beat All-Pro linebacker Fred Warner, and the other a pass into the ground against Green Bay in the end zone. 

The red zone was a dead zone for Kmet, who made great strides last year and still has a way to go before he's a developed NFL tight end. He didn't make a single touchdown catch in 2021 after getting two in 2020.

"So those are the two that I look at that I wish I had back and that's really all I can look at and kind of assess myself on," Kmet said.

Catching touchdown passes was Kmet's great weakness. His 60 receptions was an improvement by 32 over his rookie year and his average climbed by 1.5 yards to 10.2.

"Yeah, I mean sometimes things don't work out," Kmet said. "They play a coverage here, a coverage there and you know it just doesn't work out but you know it is what it is. Like I said I've got to focus on my thing and not worry about the rest."

Only 11 tight ends made more catches than Kmet, who tied for 12th in catches. But of the top 13 tight ends, Kmet owned the second-worst receiving average at 64.5% of targets. He was better among the top 13 than only Atlanta rookie Kyle Pitts (61.8%). 

So Kmet has focused improvements on his hands.

"For me, everything's got to be hands-catch," Kmet said. "That's one thing with that."

Kmet also wants to improve his blocking and needs help from tight ends coach Jim Dray for doing it at this time of year with no contact allowed.

"And then it's hard to do now without pads on, but really craving violence through my blocks, that's kind of a thing, especially on double-teams," Kmet said. "Those are the two things I'm kind of focusing on.

"The hands-catching stuff I can really work on that now. The other thing, not so much without pads, but you do what you do. I'll have (coach Dray hold the bag and I'll tee off on him, that's about it."

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One thing he thinks will help is having Justin Fields at quarterback all year, provided the Bears are able to pass-protect adequately and keep their quarterback healthy.

"So the thing when you look back on it you know you see that, I mean really from my first two years here I've had a lot of—not just quarterbacks—but quarterback changes," Kmet said.

The Bears switched starting quarterbacks twice in 2020 and even had a game where all three quarterbacks played due to injuries. They switched starters last year five times due to injuries and COVID-19.

"I mean it's tough on a player trying to get a feel for guys and you know different kind of scheme changes depending on who the quarterback is," Kmet said. "So for me just always doing what I'm asked and at the end of the day that's all you can control.

"So I just keep doing that and keep working at it."

It's possible new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy will find ways to get Kmet opportunities in the end zone or near the goal line.

"He's been great, really detailed, and specific on what he wants," Kmet said. "He's thrown a lot at us this past month and a half, two months, but I think he just wants to see what everyone can do and I think that's a good thing.

"We've been getting a lot of info thrown at us and all that type of stuff. But it's been good and we're just trying to see how much we can absorb at once."

The rest could be up to Fields and his relationship with is passer. He joined wide receiver Darnell Mooney in Georgia during the offseason working with Fields but not necessarily perfecting their timing.

"I think for me it's not so much timing and get a feel for each other on the field, but more just relationship," Kmet said. "I think that's important, having a good relationship with guys.

"Me and Mooney and Justin met up this offseason. It was just good bonding and good feel for each other and I think that goes to the field, so I think that's important."

Particularly near the goal line.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven