ATLANTA — With just over 10 minutes remaining in the second quarter, Cole Kmet did something that isn’t normal.
After the Bears and Falcons scored touchdowns on their opening possessions, the two teams forced punts on the next four drives. Then on first-and-10 from the Chicago 49-yard line, Kmet got his first target of the game.
Kmet, who lined up just right of Riley Reiff, ran a vertical route on the right numbers. Linebacker Rashaan Evans was in front of the Kmet and cornerback A.J. Terrell came over just as the ball was starting to come down. The 6-foot-6, 260-pound tight end leaped off his right foot and reached out with his right hand. Just as the ball stuck to Kmet’s right glove, Terrell hit him in the side and Kmet spun to the ground. Somehow he held on to complete the one-handed 24-yard reception.
After the game, Kmet said “it took focus” to be able to make that catch.
Kmet’s highlight play helped the Bears to score a field goal on that drive to give Chicago the lead. More importantly, though, the catch helped further establish Kmet as a player Fields can trust when a play needs to be made.
Through the first seven games of this season, Kmet only caught 12 passes for 148 yards. There was legitimate reasons to debate if he would ever live up to his second-round status.
But Kmet did turn a corner over the last four games. Since Oct. 30, Kmet has caught 14 passes for 161 yards and five touchdowns. Plus, his 24-yard reception further establishes the chemistry him and Fields have built with each other since the offseason.
Fields now knows his tight end is capable of making a play even when the throw isn’t perfect. That is important for both of the 23-year-old players as they continue to grow in offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s offense.
In the 27-24 loss to the Falcons, Fields passed for only 153 yards and going into the game the Bears only averaged 128.1 yards per game (last in the NFL). This passing attack is still a clear work in progress.
With questions about the offensive line and a vast majority of the other passing targets, Kmet is proving he can be a consistent option for Fields moving forward.