You could pick any part of the Bears’ offense and bring yourself to a boil.
Quarterback, offensive line, running back, coaching — just name it, it’s a mess.
But I have chosen tight end to drive me mad.
Why? I don’t really know. Perhaps it’s because the Bears once had a history of being diligent about the position.
The legendary Mike Ditka, Da Coach, originally was Da Tight End.
That’s right. The Bears once favored the tight end as a major pass-receiving danger. And Ditka was the young man.
In fact, his coach, ‘‘Old Man’’ George Halas, more or less made the position famous.
Ditka came along in 1961 and was named NFL Rookie of the Year. He caught 12 touchdown passes in that 14-game season and gained more than 1,000 yards.
In his first four seasons, Ditka caught 248 passes for 3,671 yards and 30 touchdowns. It might take a current Bears tight end multiple lifetimes to get those numbers.
The Bears have veteran Jimmy Graham at tight end in many situations, and the 6-7 former college basketball player has caught five touchdown passes this season. But he’s averaging only 8.6 yards per catch, and he’s no gazelle.
Which brings us to rookie Cole Kmet, the Bears’ second-round pick in the draft in April and their purported future at the position. Kmet has been targeted a grand total of 11 times this season, with seven receptions and one touchdown. If he weren’t on the team, it really wouldn’t matter much.
Coach Matt Nagy said a month ago Kmet would be seeing more action, and what happens? Four targets in three games for two catches and nine yards.
It’s hard not to get angry about the impotence of the Bears’ offense, which is ranked 31st in total yards, but the tight end position seems barely to exist in that ball of failure.
What is wrong?
Not Kmet, according to coaches.
‘‘The problem is us,’’ offensive coordinator Bill Lazor said, meaning the coaches.
Remember the 2017 draft, when the Bears took tight end Adam Shaheen in the second round, almost exactly in the same spot as they chose Kmet three years later?
That draft was the one in which the Bears took quarterback Mitch Trubisky with the second overall pick, ahead of Patrick Mahomes. But we won’t talk about that.
Shaheen, 6-6 and 257 pounds, was a total dud and now plays randomly for the Dolphins.
Second-round picks are top picks. They aren’t supposed to be duds. They mean something.
So what is wrong with the Bears and Kmet? The guy is tight end-sized — 6-6, 262 pounds — and athletic enough, we’ll assume. It’s not like he was an unknown, like Shaheen, out of little Ashland (Ohio) University. Kmet came via the football processor known as Notre Dame.
Watching tight ends do well on other NFL teams is quite depressing. Maybe it’s not fair to compare Kmet to, say, the Chiefs’ Travis Kelce or the Raiders’ Darren Waller. Those guys are amazing. Or the early edition of Patriot-turned-Buccaneer Rob Gronkowski.
But there’s also the 49ers’ George Kittle, the Ravens’ Mark Andrews, the Lions’ T.J. Hockenson and the Chargers’ Hunter Henry. They’re factors in their teams’ offense; Bears tight ends are not.
Why, even some guy named Robert Tonyan — whom the Bears will see Sunday against the Packers — has six touchdown catches this season. Tonyan, in this fourth year out of Indiana State, was an undrafted free agent.
Maybe Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has something to do with his success? Well, duh.
Still, a tight end can’t do anything statistically unless even a lousy quarterback throws him the ball. Getting targeted just 11 times is idiotic.
Tight ends are hybrid players. They have to be big enough to block linebackers and tackles. But if that’s all you use them for, put a glorified tackle in there.
Their skill involves slipping into spaces in zone creases, underneath the receivers. They also drag across the middle or do quick outs on goal lines because the defense doesn’t know whether they’re blocking or receiving.
The good ones can split safeties down the middle for bombs or run deep flag-post patterns in which they outrun linebackers or dwarf cornerbacks. The Bears’ tight ends? None of that.
Blame the offense. Blame the coaches.
At some point, however, we have to blame the tight end himself.
Who else is there?