Adam Shaheen was just recently drafted by the Bears in the second round because of the upside he’d provide as a pass catcher to an offense that lacked playmakers in the passing game. Perhaps now, in the wake of Zach Miller’s season-ending knee injury, the Chicago Bears will finally unleash the 6-foot-6, 270-pound rookie out into some more patterns.
Or, you know, that time could go to fourth-string tight end Daniel Brown.
Brown played his first offensive snaps of the season in the Bears’ Week 8 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. And the 25-year-old tight end was in on 16 plays – 13 of which were pass snaps. That could be a telling sign for Shaheen, who played 19 snaps on Sunday, only 9 of which came on passing plays. The even split could be a more favorable sign for Shaheen’s overall playing time, seeing that the Bears run the ball as often as they do. HOWEVER, that a tight end at the bottom of the depth chart saw more snaps on pass plays is certainly eye opening in this case.
Tight ends will be top of mind once we move past the bye week and into preparation for the second half of the season.
When John Fox was asked whether Shaheen will get a chance to scoop up some of Miller’s playing time, the Bears’ head coach gave the ol’ “time will tell” response while tossing a bit of praise in his rookie’s direction.
“He’s definitely got the ability and the football intelligence to do it,” Fox said via Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times. “Whether [the recent increase in playing time] relates to the production, I can’t speak to [that] off the top of my head. But the game’s slowing down for him.”
To his credit, Shaheen says he’s willing to do whatever the coaching staff asks of him as he waits his turn.
“I’m excited to do whatever they task me to do,” Shaheen said via Potash in a piece suggesting Shaheen’s time to break out could be coming. “Blocking and sticking my head in there and mashing skulls – I’ve loved it. When I get the rock thrown my way, I love that, too. But tight end isn’t a one-dimensional thing. We all love all aspects of it. That’s football.”
For Shaheen to have the ability to step back and see the bigger picture and view his position as not a one-way street shows maturity from a rookie who spent his college career primarily as a pass catcher. Still, the position has been – more often than not – a one-dimensional game for Shaheen.
Shaheen has played a minimal role on offense and has been a non-factor in the passing game. In fact, Shaheen has been on the field for just 8.2 percent of the team’s pass snaps according to Pro Football Focus. Indeed, he’s spent a bulk of his playing time as a run blocker, participating in 32.2 percent of the team’s total running plays.
Focusing solely on Shaheen’s playing time not relative to the team’s total snaps reveals some telling information too.
According to Pro Football Focus’ data, Shaheen has played 104 total snaps split between passing snaps (21), run block snaps (80), and pass block snaps (3). Add it up and Shaheen’s playing time has mostly come in a blocking role (79.8% of his snaps have come blocking for the run or pass) with minimal exposure (20.2%) as a possible pass catcher (as noted). That Shaheen has seen more snaps on special teams (118) than offense (104) is alarming. Perhaps it’s time for a change.