Adam Shaheen’s Huge Block Led to Jordan Howard’s Walk-Off TD and Shows Development

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Adam Shaheen’s Huge Block Led to Jordan Howard’s Walk-Off TD and Shows Development

Chicago Bears

Adam Shaheen was drafted in the second round because he possessed the right combination of size, speed, and soft hands talent evaluators drool over when searching for a tight end. But what if I told you Shaheen’s biggest contributions (so far) have come as a blocker?

Shaheen has played 101 fewer snaps than starter Dion Sims this season, but made the most of his snaps in the team’s Week 3 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The rookie tight end played just 15 snaps against Pittsburgh on Sunday, with 12 of those snaps coming on run plays. And none were more important than the sequence that came on Jordan Howard’s game-winning touchdown run in overtime:

Not pictured is Shaheen starting on the right side of the line, then motioning to the left side. Now that we’ve got that piece of set up out of the way, let’s highlight how Shaheen initiates at the point of attack and really gets into the Steelers defender with a good block.

Howard’s run doesn’t happen if Shaheen fails to pick up that block.

Initiating the action is one thing, but holding the block is another. This is a play the Bears ran to perfection throughout Sunday’s win, but it’s not a play that works without the kind of strong backside blocking displayed by Shaheen and the rest of the left side of the line. Shaheen clears a hole a truck could drive through and holds it long enough to allow Howard to cut back and motor through untouched.

Watching the rookie seal the edge isn’t going to make SportsCenter or show up as the focus of Shaheen’s career highlight reel, but it shows the kind of progress the Division II product has made in this particular department since arriving at Halas Hall this spring.

It’s evident that the Bears are trying to build Shaheen’s confidence and skills as a blocker, before unleashing the other part of his game. And nothing drives it home like repetition (23 of the 28 snaps he’s played have come as a run blocker).

But if this block is any indication, Shaheen is making strides in an area where he wasn’t asked to do much while in college. According to Pro Football Focus, Shaheen has earned a 76.3 run blocking grade on his 23 run block snaps. Not only is that a pleasant surprise, it’s a darn good grade as PFF ranks him as the NFL’s 15th best run blocking tight end through three games.

Shaheen has a lot of growth left when it comes to making strides in the passing game, but his skills as a run blocker developing quicker than expected. We still believe he’ll end up being the kind of red zone target (as he was on his first career touchdown reception) that elevates the passing game. But until that day comes, his ability to clear space in the running game is a welcome addition to the team.

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.