This is CHGO’s Chicago Bears 2022 player preview series. Learn more about each player and what to expect from them this year.
Ryan Griffin is entering his 10th season in the league and his first with the Chicago Bears after spending the last three years with the New York Jets.
The 32-year-old tight end is looking to build off his strong play towards the end of last season where he had 17 catches for 190 yards in the final seven games.
Advanced Stat to Know: Griffin’s 5.4 yards after catch per reception (YAC/REC) tied for 14th best in the league in 2021. (PFF)
Best Game of 2021
Griffin’s best performance came Week 9 against the Indianapolis Colts when he had a season-high four catches and scored one of his two touchdowns on the season.
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Can Ryan Griffin maximize his looks in a limited role?
The expectation is that Griffin will not see a bunch of snaps or a high volume of targets. He’s averaged less than two catches per game throughout his career (1.7 R/G).
It’s quite clear that Cole Kmet will be seeing the highest volume of targets at tight end. After him, there will be a split between Griffin and another newcomer James O’Shaughnessy.
Just exactly how those looks get divvied up will depend on who builds the best connection with Justin Fields and makes the most of his looks.
Griffin had issues with holding onto the football last year. He dropped 10 percent of his targets, which was the fifth-highest mark in the NFL.
One of those drops happened in the end zone, which is something fans don’t want to see in Chicago.
As long as Griffin can haul in the football, he can become a solid-not-spectacular option for the Bears.
Despite being older, Griffin has some shiftiness to his game where he is able to utilize his feel for space in the middle of the field. He’s good at finding a soft spot in a zone and gaining additional yardage after the catch with his tough running style.
Over half of his 261 receiving yards last year came after the catch (145).
Griffin also is a decent red-zone threat. He’s just two seasons removed from being a top-5 tight end inside the 20 when he had six receiving touchdowns in the red zone during the 2019 season.
Those six scores came on only seven targets.
Griffin needs to prove he can make the most of his looks like he did that season. Defenses will focus on other skill players around him and he will not be someone teams will be placing much focus on. This should lead to some easy looks underneath for Fields, and it will be up to Griffin to gain those yards after the catch as he did for the Jets last year.
And if he can become a sneaky good red-zone option for Chicago, that’s an added bonus.
Griffin should have opportunities. Time will tell if he can capitalize on them.
By no means will Griffin become a featured piece on offense. He may see a decent amount of snaps as he has played in 43 percent or more of snaps on offense every year since 2015.
That’s more due to his blocking ability than his receiving skills.
Don’t expect the ball to go Griffin’s way too often. It will just come down to whether or not he’ll step up when his number is called.
Prediction: 20 Catches, 190 Yards, 2 Touchdowns.