Slump or Jump: Can Adam Shaheen become a regular part of the Bears offense in 2018?
By Usayd Koshul
As the Bears 2018 offseason continues, there is no doubt that the Bears have gotten better on paper.
Being one of the youngest teams in the NFL, the Bears have plenty of players at multiple positions that seem like they’re waiting to take take the next step. Today, we examine whether or not Adam Shaheen can take the next step in 2018.
We’ve already examined whether or not Mitchell Trubisky, Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, Eddie Jackson, and Leonard Floyd can take the next step in 2018.
2017 season recap:
In thirteen games, Shaheen had twelve receptions for one hundred twenty-seven yards, averaging 10.6 yards per reception, and three touchdowns.
At this time last year, there was a consensus amongst the Chicago Bears front office and fanbase. Adam Shaheen was clearly the tight end of the future for this team. Nicknamed “Baby Gronk”, the former division two standout showed flashes of why he was given the nickname he was.
Part of the reason as to why Bears fans didn’t see more of Shaheen last year is because he began the season as a third-string tight end behind Zach Miller and Dion Sims. However, injuries to both players eventually forced Shaheen to be a part of the passing game.
Now, Shaheen’s future with the Bears isn’t so crystal clear. With new free agent tight end Trey Burton now joining the Bears, Shaheen will now begin the season as the second tight end on the depth chart.
There are plenty of reasons to love the skillset that a big guy like Shaheen brings into Matt Nagy’s offense. In 2017, he was mostly used as a redzone threat and was very involved in the passing game. Essentially, Shaheen was better as a pass-catching tight end than as a pass-blocking tight end.
Looking at the different types of personnel packages that the Bears can use, it’s likely that we’ll see Adam Shaheen when the Bears display a 12 personnel grouping (one running back, two tight ends). Such a package will be quite effective as Shaheen’s size (six-foot-six, 270 lbs), will be useful when both him and Trey Burton are on the field at the same time.
Not only do the two complement each other, but defenses will be unsure of who is getting the ball, which will allow for Matt Nagy to create mismatches. On any given play, opposing defenses will be forced to emphasize guarding either Burton or Shaheen more, meaning that other players will be given the opportunity to make plays.
There are, however, some challenges that exist for Shaheen. First, being from a division two school, his football knowledge and background are not up to the level they need to be. While he did dominate at Ashland University, the speed of the game in division two football as compared to division one football is much slower and the level of talent is clearly not NFL-caliber.
Second, Shaheen will have to put in extra hours as he’s essentially starting all over again in the sense that he’ll need to learn an entirely new offense. While you could argue this for most Bears players, it’s more important for him being from a division two school. Had this been Dowell Loggains offense, there would have been bits and pieces of information that he would have remembered meaning there would be relatively little things he needed to focus on.
It’s going to be interesting to see what Shaheen can bring to the table. What could potentially turn out to be a faster, more complex offense, Shaheen will need to make sure he’s error-free if he wants to show improvement. He’s clearly shown that he wants to improve as a player and get better. Prior to joining Ashland University’s football program in 2014, it seemed as if his main focus was basketball. However, under the guidance of Matt Nagy, it’s fair to expect Shaheen to show flashes of taking his game to the next level as the 2018 season progresses.
Prediction: Jump, but will breakout more towards the latter part of the 2018 season