In trying to search for solutions to a broken offense, I found myself wondering if a lineup shuffle would help push things along.
Switching up the snap share can sometimes bring a spark and get things moving in the right direction. But during my search, I found some questionable trends when it came to the snap share for the Bears’ skill-position payers.
Here’s a breakdown of total snaps and snap percentage for key Bears running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends:
- Allen Robinson (295, 92.2%)
- David Montgomery (173, 54.1%)
- Javon Wims (173, 54.1%)
- Anthony Miller (164 (51.3%)
- Taylor Gabriel (163, 50.9%)
- Tarik Cohen (162, 50.6%)
- Trey Burton (147, 45.9%)
- Adam Shaheen (119, 37.2%)
- Mike Davis (60, 18.8%)
- Cordarrelle Patterson (53 (16.6%)
Allen Robinson leading the way in snaps is sensible. Not only is he the team’s best pass-catcher, he runs all the routes on the tree from every spot on the field and is a willing (and solid) blocker in the run game.
But the rest of the group is littered with troubling decisions.
Adam Shaheen is in his third year as a pro and is getting just 37.2 percent of the snap share, which is a disturbing development for the third-year tight end. Shaheen, a second-round pick in 2017, should be an integral part of the offense at this point in his career. At a minimum, he should be in a position where he is getting significant playing time.
Instead, he’s played on 35 percent or less of the team’s total offensive snaps in three of the last four games. That’s a disappointing development for a player with his size, speed, and athleticism (which always made it easy to dream on big things happening for the big-bodied tight end). Unfortunately, it hasn’t come together. And that’s far from the only concern.
Mike Davis was brought in to get the nitty gritty yards as part of a new-look backfield that was supposed to pick up the slack in the wake of Jordan Howard being traded to Philadelphia. But that hasn’t happened yet, either, as Davis has played just five snaps in his last two games. After appearing on a season-high 40 snaps (56.3%) in Week 1, Davis’ playing time has slipped in the games since. And while a certain amount of blame can be placed on the shoulders of an offensive line that isn’t getting it done, Davis simply hasn’t seen the field enough to make a difference. Last year in Seattle, Davis was on the field for 36.6 percent of the Seahawks’ offensive snaps. That is probably the right amount for a proper change-of-pace back.
Speaking of the ground game, David Montgomery has played on a fewer percentage of snaps (54.1%) than Howard did (58.1%) last year. Maybe Montgomery gets it going in the second half. But in order for that to happen, he’ll need to be on the field more often.
Tarik Cohen is seeing a higher percentage of snaps than he did last year when he appeared on 46.1 percent of Bears offensive plays, but has seen a sharp decline in production. Cohen’s rushing yards per carry, yards per carry, yards per reception, receiving yards per game, average yards per touch are all down from his 2018 season. More playing time, fewer touches, and less production isn’t what anyone had in mind for the multi-purpose back heading into the season. And Head Coach Matt Nagy should be having a field day deploying Cohen, but it’s been anything but a walk in the park so far.
One thing the Bears should be focusing on in the bye is figuring out if Cohen has been over-exposed or if teams have finally caught up with ways to slow him down.
Cordarrelle Patterson went from being in on 20.6 percent of the offensive snaps in New England to 16.6 percent in Chicago It is a small step backwards, but nevertheless a step in the wrong direction. Patterson signed on to be an all-purpose player used in clever ways and in tandem with the rest of the Bears’ playmakers. But instead, we’ve seen Patterson used in oddly predictable ways more often than I care to think about. Re-configuring his usage (possibly in tandem with Cohen) could unlock some things on the offense.
And finally, last season, Trey Burton was on the field for 80 percent of the Bears’ offense snaps. And as one of Mitch Trubisky’s most reliable targets, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that QB1 hasn’t performed as expected considering Burton’s absence on the playing field. Perhaps positive regression is coming for Trubisky, just as Burton sees an increase in playing time. Burton played a season-high 42 snaps (75 percent) after failing to reach a 70 percent snap share in each of his first three games of the season. We need to remember that Burton was recovering from a groin in jury and last week represented his first week as a full participant in practice with no limitations. Maybe the best is still yet to come.