The selections of quarterback Mitch Trubisky and tight end Adam Shaheen might arguably be the two most important picks Ryan Pace makes while running the Chicago Bears.
After all, the importance of getting it right at quarterback can’t be understated. And, at the same time, a quarterback is only as good as his targets. Hence, the importance of Shaheen’s development not only as a dual-threat tight end, but also as a playmaker in the passing game, too.
But while Trubisky has flashed some positive signs here and there in camp, he’s also struggled with relatively mundane issues like handling snaps – such is the life of a rookie quarterback making the transition from college to the pros. And until further notice, he’ll be playing second-fiddle to veterans Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez.
But Shaheen, on the other hand, is making a climb towards training camp stardom and simply can’t be stopped:
Bears rookie TE Adam Shaheen went up over a defender for a one-handed touchdown. He has consistently looked the part in practice.
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) August 4, 2017
Considering the question marks at tight end – what with Zach Miller’s health and Dion Sims’ much needed continued development – as well as the uncertainty at wide receiver, Shaheen’s path to playing time seems clear: he could stand out as a red zone target for an offense that settled for one too many field goals in 2016.
“The play of the day went to rookie tight end Adam Shaheen, who made a one-handed catch on a pass from Glennon in goal-line drills. Safety Quintin Demps was in fine coverage, but he had no chance against the former basketball player, who reached up and grabbed the pass for the score.”
Poor Quintin Demps (5’11”, 216 lbs) … he never had much of a shot against the big-bodied Shaheen (6’6″, 270 lbs) in that specific situation.
Then again, there aren’t too many defensive backs who will be able to match up with Shaheen on those types of plays anyway. Still, hearing that Demps was “fine in coverage” feels like something we might not have heard with a younger, inexperienced safety.
In the end, this kind of play is what makes Shaheen a unicorn of sorts. And the fact that the pass came from the Bears’ projected starter makes it all that much nicer.
Glennon has a career 2.4 percent interception rate, which is respectable in a vacuum. However, that number gets trimmed dramatically when he is throwing in the red zone. Glennon has thrown 73 career passes in the red zone – 26 have gone for touchdowns, while only one was intercepted. That’s a 1.4 INT% for those of you keeping track at home.
Glennon’s red zone accuracy (46.6% completion rate) could use some major work, but perhaps having a target like Shaheen to throw to in that area will help boost those numbers closer to respectability. And at 6’6″, 229 lbs, Glennon should be able to look downfield and spot Shaheen to make these types of plays.
Soon enough, the Bears will be playing preseason games and Shaheen will be going up against opposing defenses for the first time as a professional. Here’s hoping we see continued progression from training camp to the field of play that actually matters.