Bears coach Matt Nagy plans to increase Cole Kmet's playing time after the rookie tight end was on the field for only 15 of 62 snaps (24 percent) in Sunday's loss to the Colts.
"Fifteen is not enough; he needs to be out there more," Nagy said Tuesday during a video call with reporters. "We're aware of that. He's doing a really good job at taking in this offense, which we knew from the get-go that he was going to do.
"So now that he knows the tempo of the games, the adjustments—things that go on within the game, I feel like he's ready. He's going to get more opportunities as we go. He's earned that right. That'll be our job as coaches to make sure it's more than 15 [plays]."
Selected by the Bears in the second round of this year's draft out of Notre Dame, Kmet has played 83 of 274 snaps (30 percent) in his first four NFL games. But his playing time had increased from 20 to 22 to 26 snaps in Weeks 1-3 before dropping to 15 Sunday.
Kmet has been targeted three times but has just one reception for 12 yards. It came on a pass from Mitchell Trubisky in the Bears' Week 2 win over the Giants at Soldier Field.
Smooth operator: It appears the Bears unearthed a gem in the fifth round of this year's draft in speedy receiver Darnell Mooney. The Tulane product is second on the team among receivers behind veteran Allen Robinson II with 13 catches for 145 yards.
"He's very similar to Cole in the fact that nothing's too big for him," Nagy said. "He's a very chill dude. He doesn't say a whole lot, but he's kind of like a smooth operator where he just goes out and does what he has to do. [He] doesn't say a whole lot. He just plays hard. He makes plays. If he makes a mistake, he admits it and then he doesn't make it again."
In Sunday's loss to the Colts, Mooney established career highs with five receptions, 52 yards and a long catch of 33 yards.
"I just love his mentality," Nagy said. "The kid does more extra work than anybody. He's a hard worker. He puts in extra time. And he cares. He's completely obsessed about this game. When you have somebody like that that has the talent that he has, the character that he has, I really believe that he has a really bright future with us and we've got to continue using him the right way."
Sack attack: The Bears rank 18th in the NFL with eight sacks through the first quarter of the season. But Nagy feels that the pass rush has made a greater impact than the sack total indicates.
"Of the four games that we played, the only game that I didn't feel our pass rush was Week 1," Nagy said. "That was the only game. I do know that even though the numbers might not be there—the sack totals—there's a lot of times where you're affecting the quarterback, and I feel like in that world, we're doing pretty good."
In the previous two seasons, the Bears have recorded 18 and 17 sacks in their first four games, respectively, before finishing with 50 sacks in 2018 and 32 last year—the same number they're on pace for this year.
Work in progress: The Bears are pleased to be 3-1, but they realize that there's plenty of room for improvement as they prepare to host Tom Brady and the Buccaneers Thursday night at Soldier Field.
"We're happy about being 3-1, but we're not excited," Nagy said. "We know that there's a lot more work to be done. We feel like we haven't even come close to playing a complete game yet—and we're 3-1. So that part, we understand. I just feel like for our guys, that's the most important part, is the message from the coach as far as how we go about doing that."
The Bears are 3-1 for the third time in as many seasons under Nagy. They hope to avoid falling to 3-3 as they did in each of the previous two years. In 2018, they followed by winning five straight and nine of their final 10 to win the NFC North with a 12-4 record. Last year they lost four in a row to drop to 3-5 before closing 5-3 to finish 8-8.
Nagy is the first Bears head coach to have a winning record after four games in each of his first three seasons since George Halas in the franchise's first three years of existence from 1920-22.