Trey Burton is the Key to the Bears Offensive Turnaround

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

In golf, the old saying is, you drive for show and putt for dough. In the modern NFL, at least on offense, the saying could read, wide receivers provide the show while tight ends earn the dough. The Chicago Bears spent a lot of time and money rebuilding their wide receiver corps for Mitch Trubisky but for this team and the young quarterback to take the next step Trey Burton has to emerge as his most reliable target, especially in the red zone.

That’s not to say that Burton has to lead the Bears in targets or receptions. In 2017 only two tight ends, Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs and Evan Engram of the New York Giants were in the top 20 in receiving targets. You’ll only find Jack Doyle of the Indianapolis Colts and Zach Ertz of the Philadelphia Eagles in the top 20 for receptions.

However, look at the touchdown list and see where a tight end sets top offenses apart. Jimmy Graham of the Seattle Seahawks was third in the NFL with 10 receiving touchdowns. Also a members of the top 20 were Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots, Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz who all hauled in eight touchdown passes and Ken Rudolph of the Minnesota Vikings pulled in seven.

What do four of those five touchdown producers have in common? They were all keys to their teams playing postseason football in 2017. Ertz and Gronkowski were vital to their team’s Super Bowl runs. As for Jimmy Graham, the Seahawks didn’t make the playoffs but without his visible presence downfield for Seattle, Russell Wilson might have been killed considering how often he was running for his life.

Can Burton bring that type of production to the Bears’ offense? He doesn’t have the big body that the others bring to the field, at 6’ 3", 235 pounds, but in his one start last season when Ertz was sidelined, Burton showed the hands and athleticism that head coach Matt Nagy will be looking for in 2018.

In Week 14 against the Los Angeles Rams Burton was targeted six times, caught five for 71 yards and two touchdowns. Overall in 2017 Burton was only targeted 31 times but caught 23 of those passes for 248 yards and five touchdowns. In other words, out of every for times he touched the football the Eagles rang up six more points on the scoreboard. What’s even more impressive is he accomplished that while splitting time with Brent Celek.

Another advantage for Burton heading into 2018 he’ll be working with a coach who schooled under Andy Reid and understands what makes an offense successful in today’s NFL. In Kansas City, three of the past four season Travis Kelce has led the Chiefs in receptions, even with quality receivers and pass catching running backs around him.

He’ll also be working with Kevin Gilbride, the new tight ends coach of the Bears. Gilbride played a big role in Engram’s development with the Giants and he’ll be equally important in Burton’s development to the next level as well as raising the play of Dion Sims and Adam Shaheen.

Lester Wiltfong had Burton listed at No. 10 on his list of 10 Most Important Bears of 2018 but for the Bears offense to look like it’s finally entered the 21st century Burton needs to to be the Bear that blazes that trail.

This Fanpost was written by a Windy City Gridiron member and does not necessarily reflect the ideas or opinions of its staff or community.