Chicago Sports News

New Arrival Ryan Griffin Shows Bears Have A Clear Plan

The Chicago Bears made two late-night additions to their roster on Thursday. Most of the attention went to former Baltimore Ravens cornerback Tavon Young. Arguably one of the best at his position left on the market. This made it easy to overlook the arrival of veteran tight end Ryan Griffin along with him. The 32-year old has played in the NFL since 2013, spending most of that time as a rotational backup for the Houston Texans and New York Jets.

That leaves the obvious question of why the Bears targeted him. It’s possible they wanted some veteran experience at the position to help out Cole Kmet and Jesper Horsted. In truth, there is a somewhat deeper goal behind the move. Since the start of the offseason, the Bears have demonstrated a clear plan on offense. They want to establish the Shanahan-style outside-zone system elements that found great success in places like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Green Bay.

The challenge is it’s difficult to learn.

So the Bears focused on hiring offensive assistant coaches with experience in it. Offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, offensive line coach Chris Morgan, and wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert are a few such examples. Now the team seems to be shifting to finding players with experience in it. Griffin arrived as a 6th round pick for the Texans in 2013. He played that year under head coach Gary Kubiak, one of the biggest outside-zone proponents in the league.

While he only spent one year in the system, it was a beneficial experience for Griffin. He had 244 yards and one touchdown as a rookie. The Shanahan offense demands a particular type of player at tight end. He must be athletic, have good speed for his position, and be a natural pass catcher. Despite never having any breakout season, Griffin has shown that he has this capability over the years from time to time.

Ryan Griffin is a solid depth piece in every way.

Not only can he be a viable target in the passing game, but he also has experience on special teams. He made two tackles in punt coverage for the Jets each of the past two seasons. If the plan is for the Bears to enter 2022 with a trio of Kmet, Horsted, and Griffin, they should be in good shape. Some may argue they can use a little more blocking help, but that seems unlikely given their needs at other positions.

Such a trio will allow the Bears to attack defenses more through the air. Kmet brings its great size and strength. Horsted proves to be a legitimate red zone threat last year. Ryan Griffin is that Swiss army knife that can do a bit of everything. It shows the team is unlikely to address the position in the upcoming draft.

Not with the offensive line and wide receivers taking greater priority.

Griffin is far from a splash signing for Chicago, but he’s a savvy one. His value has layers to it, from experience in the new offensive system to pass-catching skill and special teams help. Don’t be surprised if he makes one or two notable plays each week this coming season.

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