Greg Olsen: Bears' Cole Kmet had 'really good year,' can be red zone threat

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Olsen: Kmet had 'really good year,' can be red zone threat originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

If there is one player on the Chicago Bears' offense that is squarely under the microscope besides Justin Fields, it might be Cole Kmet.

Maybe Chase Claypool enters in the mix after that trade.

But in some sense, Kmet had a break out season.

"I thought he had a really good year, kind of showed he can be a red zone guy," former Bears tight end Greg Olsen said on ESPN 1000's Waddle & Silvy.

"Strong run after catch. He's a big physical guy. I don't know if he's ever going to run by anybody and be a blazer and you know, a crazy vertical guy."

While his catches (50) and yard (544) totals were down slightly from 2021 to 2022 (60 catches for 612 yards), he caught a career-high seven touchdowns. He had only caught two touchdowns in his career before 2022, both in his rookie season. But Kmet led the Bears in just about every significant passing category: targets, catches, receiving yards and touchdowns.

And going forward, Olsen pointed out Kmet will be an integral cog in an offense built around and for Fields.

"I think when you're talking about the way they're going to have to build this offense with Justin and play to his strengths and utilize the quarterback, movement stuff and the design runs, the tight end is at the centerpiece of that style of offense," Olsen said. "If you look at every, "dual threat quarterback" or run-heavy quarterback... Look at Lamar [Jackson] in Baltimore with Mark Andrews, you look at Jalen Hurts right now with [Dallas] Goedert. I mean Cam [Newton],  what I was able to do.

"The tight end in that style offense, if done right, can be highly effective."

Fields and Kmet both taking steps forward, alongside Claypool and Darnell Mooney, will be important. Some of that centers around general manager Ryan Poles giving Fields more protection to execute the offense.

Olsen noted Hurts plays behind perhaps the best offensive line in football and has playmakers around him in Goedert, DeVonta Smith and A.J. Brown, plus Miles Sanders in the backfield.

And noted that Goedert is a top-five tight end in the league. If Kmet can make that leap, it could be vital to Fields' taking that next step forward.

"Right now, Justin, just is not surrounded by that level of talent," Olsen said. "They have to continue to find a way to surround him and build that team to reflect what he does best.

"That's that's what I think Philly's done so well. They run the offense to suit Jalen and his skills and his approach. And it was like what we did in Carolina with Cam. We we ran an offense that was suited for our quarterback and he had tremendous success.

"I think we saw the Bears do that more this year than they did last year, which I thought was great. And now it's just a matter of continuing to surround him with other players to take some of the pressure off."

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