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1 Surprising X-Factor to emerge for Bears in 2022 NFL season

chicago bears, justin fields, david montgomery

With the Chicago Bears welcoming in a new coaching staff that hopefully will help right the ship, their 2022 NFL season is a key one, especially for Justin Fields. Needing to find their next X-factor, it may be up to this player to make that next leap in their career.

As Allen Robinson is no longer with the Bears and Darnell Mooney will be thrown into the fire as Fields’ top option, this offense will be desperate to find another bonafide option that can be counted on and trusted.

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Bears X-Factor To Emerge In 2022 NFL Season

Cole Kmet

Having been drafted when this team had a heavy influx of tight ends taking away his playing time, Cole Kmet has started to come into his own during the second year of his short NFL career.

Hauling in 28 receptions for 243 yards and 2 TDs (44 targets) is nothing to discredit for the Notre Dame tight end in his rookie season, but the Bears used the 43rd overall selection on him to become more than a replacement-level option. In his sophomore season, which also happened to be the year that Fields was given the reigns, something seemed to click for Kmet.

Rookie signal-callers often look to take the safe options to try and get into a rhythm, and Kmet offered that important security blanket for Fields. When comparing his target share from Year 1 to Year 2, Kmet saw an increase of 49 targets, which equaled a healthy 34% target share.

That 49-target increase resulted in a 60 reception, 612 receiving yard season, albeit with no touchdowns on the season. As a whole, the team only produced 16 passing TDs on the season, and with old man Jimmy Graham turning 3 of his measly 14 receptions into scores, Kmet was the odd man out on many red-zone looks.

Darnell Mooney looks to have been established as the focal target for Fields, and his stats (81/1,055/4) last year certainly show that. But with the front office for the Bears deciding to punt on adding a bonafide WR2 option this offseason, that role now falls right to Kmet to fill. Fields has shown that he has solidified a relationship with Kmet, and that role will turn him into a bonafide x-factor for the Bears this upcoming season.

Helping Fields feel comfortable in a new offense will be crucial to his development in his third season in the NFL, and making sure to increase Kmet’s usage rate and routes ran should be one of the most important aspects offensive coordinator Luke Getsy needs to incorporate during training camp. If Kmet sees his playing time increase more than it did last season, then seeing him earn 70+ receptions, 800+ yards, and 4+ TDs is certainly in the cards.

Chicago needs to establish another option for Fields in the passing game, and Kmet is the likeliest in-house option to fill that void. As long as the new offensive scheme does not face many lulls, then the path should be clear for Kmet to succeed and become Chicago’s x-factor this season.