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Chalk Talk

Chalk Talk: What are expectations for Kmet?

Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.

Do you think Cole Kmet will start this year, and do you think there is a good chance he could win rookie of the year?
Vance W.
Celina, Ohio

It's hard to say how many starts Cole Kmet will officially get as a Bears rookie because the offense could open with one, two or even no tight ends on its first play. But I do believe that the second-round draft pick from Notre Dame will emerge as a regular contributor at the "Y" tight end position this season as both a receiver and blocker. It figures to be more difficult for Kmet and all other rookies to make an immediate impact after the coronavirus wiped out all OTA and minicamp practices. But the coaches Kmet worked with throughout the virtual offseason program raved about how fast he gained a firm grasp of the offense. Said tight ends coach Clancy Barone: "He's a quick study. The guy I think lives and breathes and eats and whatever else football. He's a football junkie and that certainly is going to bode well and help him with that whole learning curve and help him hit the ground running." As far as Kmet winning the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, he would have to have a monster, off-the-charts, record-setting season. Bears Hall of Famer Mike Ditka remains the only tight end to ever win that award; he was honored in 1961 after catching 56 passes for 1,076 yards and 12 touchdowns.

What are the Bears going to do about their running game? Gaining 55 or 60 yards a game isn't going to do it.
John B.
Helena, Montana

The Bears weren't quite that bad, John, averaging 91.1 yards on the ground last season. But that only ranked 27th in the NFL, and believe me when I say that they are well aware of the need to improve their rushing attack in 2020. One step in that direction was the hiring of veteran offensive line coach Juan Castillo, who first worked with coach Matt Nagy with the Eagles. Castillo believes in hard work and repetition, telling reporters in June that "to be a good lineman, you have to be consistent and the only way you become more consistent is by doing something over and over and over and over." Castillo has served as run game coordinator with both the Ravens and Bills and will work closely with running backs coach Charles London with the Bears. Said London: "It's a collaborative effort. It's the line blocking who they are supposed to block. It's the backs hitting the point they are supposed to hit. It's the receivers on the edge getting the guys they are supposed to block. It's the quarterback getting us to the right play. It's a collaborative effort there. We are just really focusing on everyone taking care of their part, doing their job, and as a whole, that will help our run game."

When was the last time a Bears game ended in a tie?
Danny M.
Waterloo, Iowa

The last tie game the Bears played was a 13-13 draw against the Los Angeles Rams at Soldier Field on Sept. 24, 1972. I'm sure it felt more like a win for the Bears, though, because they scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to erase a 13-3 deficit on Bobby Douglass' 30-yard touchdown pass to Earl Thomas and Mac Percival's 45-yard field goal. Two years later, in 1974, the NFL adopted overtime, which drastically reduced the number of ties in the league. From 1920-73, there were 258 ties, an average of 4.8 per season. From 1974 on, there have been just 25 ties, an average of 0.5 per season. Interestingly, the Bears still lead all NFL teams with 42 ties (all before 1974).

Chalk Talk features fan questions multiple times each week. Email your question to Larry.

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