Sunday, July 3, 2022

Bears Hint At Bigger Plans For Khari Blasingame Than Most Believe


The last time the Chicago Bears employed a traditional fullback was in 2011 with Tyler Clutts. Since then, every time they’ve had somebody play that position, it wasn’t somebody that could call it their original role. Tight end J.P. Holtz was the most recent example. So that is why it was interesting when the Bears signed veteran Khari Blasingame as a free agent in March. Some felt this meant the team would be getting back to a run-heavy approach.

That is true. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy will install his own version of the famed wide zone system made famous by the Shanahan family, Sean McVay, and Gary Kubiak. Such a system has always employed the use of a fullback. Yet when people hear that, they automatically assume it will be purely for the traditional role. Blasingame will be responsible for helping open holes for David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert. However, running backs coach David Walker hinted the plans for him go much further than that.

“He’s going to be able to do some things for us outside of the traditional fullback role of just being an elite blocker. He’s got some skills. He made a great catch out of the scramble drill today and went downfield. He’s good at the underneath slides. He’s a fullback by trade, but I wouldn’t consider him an old-school fullback role where he’s only going to be a lead blocker. He can handle the ball and do some things.”

Khari Blasingame can be a big factor as a receiving threat.

People forget he caught 25 passes for 320 yards during his senior year at Vanderbilt. Then as a rookie in 2019, he caught four passes for 54 yards across six games for the Tennessee Titans. The ability has always been there. It hasn’t been exploited enough. That will change in this offense. Among many things the wide zone does, using the fullback as a receiving threat is a big one.

Howard Griffith was a big one for the Denver Broncos during their two Super Bowl runs in 1997 and 1998. Vonta Leach became that guy for Kubiak and the Houston Texans in the late 2000s. Now Kyle Juszczyk has made five straight Pro Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers in that role, catching at least 20 passes in four of those five seasons. While Khari Blasingame may not be on their level, he has the skill set to play that role.

It should only make the Bears’ offense more diverse and unpredictable.

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