It would feel like an understatement to describe Adam Shaheen’s participation during his rookie season as limited. HOWEVER, it’s safe to assume the Matt Nagy-led Bears will carve out a different role for Shaheen in 2018.
Over at The Athletic, Shaheen’s new position coach – Kevin Gilbride Jr., the son of a former NFL head coach who most recently served as the New York Giants’ offensive coordinator – sees why the Bears would use Shaheen differently this year as opposed to last season.
“I see the speed down the field. It’s another big, big man who can move,” Gilbride said, via The Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain. “It’s been impressive to see with very solid hands and a huge target. Yes, he can develop into that down-the-field, pass-catching tight end as well, to go along with the rest of the game.”
The Bears hardly used Shaheen in the passing game in 2017. Check that. Chicago rarely used Shaheen, period. A quick dip into Pro Football Focus’ data shows how limited Shaheen’s role was last season.
A majority of Shaheen’s snaps came on running plays. More than 65 percent of Shaheen’s snaps came as a run blocker. And if you tack on his 10 pass block snaps to the equation, you would see that 69.5 percent of Shaheen’s total plays were ones in which he was asked to block. You wouldn’t have to be football’s most brilliant mind to see No. 87 on the field and figure that a running play was coming.
Shaheen was drafted in the second round, but didn’t get the kind of reps most second-rounders are accustomed to seeing. But things are changing with Nagy and first-year OC Mark Helfrich running the show. And you can bet Shaheen is excited about it.
“We’re going to have opportunities more so than we did last year, just as a tight end room as a whole,” Shaheen said, via Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times. “We’re going to be all over the field. It’s going to be good to be a part of it.”
So what could Shaheen’s expanded role look like in 2018? Perhaps the Chiefs’ usage of Demetrius Harris will provide some clues.
Harris was the Chiefs’ “Y” tight end, a role Shaheen figures to line up and where he figures to be a starter. In his fourth season as a pro, Harris played on 46.8 percent of the team’s offensive snaps last season. That would represent a significant increase for Shaheen, and it will likely come with more variety. Harris played on 516 snaps last season, which came with a more fair split compared to how the Bears used Shaheen in 2017. The fourth-year tight end played on 254 passing plays and 262 blocking snaps, according to PFF’s data. That’s nearly a 50-50 split, which is the kind of balance the new-look Bears offense figures to strike with the new decision-makers at the top.
Things are going to be different in 2018. And while we don’t know how it will look, there is plenty of reason to be excited about the change that’s coming down the pipeline.