It starts with the question: where in the world is Adam Shaheen? No, he is not in San Diego, neither are the Chargers for that matter. Just like the superb 90’s computer game, this search took unexpected twists, turns, and often left me scratching my head.
On a typical NFL roster — we all know that the Bears are far from the typical NFL franchise — a second-round draft pick, a rookie though he may be, would be seeing significant playing time. That has not been the case as we approach the halfway point of the 2017 season.
With 2 veteran tight ends on the roster, it makes sense that Shaheen would need to fight a bit for playing time. However, one would expect to see more than 66 out of a possible 405 plays, or 16.3%. That seems awfully low, even for a player as raw as Shaheen was reported to be coming out of Ashland.
He certainly looked the part in training camp and was prominently featured in preseason games, well as much as a player can be in glorified practices. Shaheen also has been reported to be Mitchell Trubisky’s roommate. Which begs the question, what has changed since July? Shouldn’t this young player be allowed to cut his teeth on a 2-4 football team?
The most troubling thing is, Shaheen has only been on the field for 9 snaps when a passing play has been called. Not only is Dowell Loggains and the Bears coaching staff not using him, but they are seemingly telegraphing their plays. With 86.4% of the plays that Shaheen is on the field being runs, you may as well put the red and white striped winter hat on his head and yell “RUN!” Seriously, this is the easiest game of Where’s Waldo? ever.
Furthermore, Shaheen has only been targeted once on the season. I think we all recall how that play turned out, right?
His receiver rating is on the same level as Pat O’Donnell’s and Tarik Cohen’s passer ratings...perfect. Why not use him a little more in the red zone? It’s not as if the other tight ends are setting the world on fire right now.
Since there are only 8 other passing plays that Shaheen has been involved in, we might as well enter the film vault and see what’s what.
This was a clear hold that wasn’t called. Not much he could have done here and Zach Miller was the correct read on this play. Verdict: Inconclusive (Held)
The infamous triple-coverage interception. If you have a sensitive stomach, I suggest averting your eyes, this isn’t pretty. It has been well-documented that Shaheen was open on this play and he would have been the correct read. Verdict: Positive (Open)
It is hard to tell from this angle but to me, I thought that Shaheen was supposed to stem this route back inside and stay in the seam. He would have been open for a touchdown. Verdict: Inconclusive (Without knowing what his responsibilities are on the route, it is impossible to say. My guess is that he zigged when he should have zagged)
Wait, three whole passing plays against Pittsburgh? Yeah, buddy! Here he stays in to block. With the play flowing to the offensive right-side, he was responsible for the backside block. Anthony Chickillo (#56) falls back into coverage in the weak-side flat. Verdict: Positive (He did his job, there was simply no one there to block)
Here is another block. It appears that he motions to the offensive right-side, and gets a good chip on Blake Martinez (#50) before going on his route. He is a tertiary read on this play. The design is to get the ball to Dion Sims, who is open, but...Glennon. Verdict: Positive (Shaheen gets enough of Martinez to give Glennon time to throw the ball, Tarik Cohen on the other hand...)
This is an interesting play. It is the mirror image of the play that Kevin White was injured on, if anyone recalls that. The design is 4 vertical routes clearing out for an underneath receiver. Almost like a screen. In my opinion, everyone does their job well on this play but Glennon. This was supposed to go to Cohen at the top of the image. Verdict: Positive (Again, he doesn’t make a play, but he isn’t being asked to. He clears his man out for the underneath receiver)
This is the Zach Miller touchdown. The play breaks down early and I can’t fault the decision that Mitchell Trubisky makes here. The play design is poor if you ask me. The formation is too bunched together for this play to be successful. This is a 3rd and inches or goal line play. But I digress. Shaheen is covered early but does a nice job of turning up-field and creating a bit of separation. I think he would have probably caught a touchdown here too. Verdict: Neutral (Initially covered, he works himself open on the scramble drill)
This certainly looks like another hold. It is possible their feet just got tangled up, too difficult to tell. Verdict: Poor (Without knowing how he went to the ground, I have to assume he just tripped. He should have been able to beat the outside linebacker covering him for an easy completion)
If Adam Shaheen is not getting on the field and not getting targeted, then who is? Given his size (6-6 278 lbs), I would assume that he would be a natural target in the red zone, especially near the goal line. Granted, that is where his only catch was, but why is that his only play in that part of the field? Who are they using instead?
Look, I love Tarik Cohen as much as the next guy, but why is he being used in this situation? That route was not designed for a 5-6 player. Shaheen’s size would allow him to be open on plays such as this. I could see Shaheen “posting up” a safety in the end zone, couldn’t you?
This is a head-scratcher. Why oh why is Michael Burton split out wide? On what planet is he going to beat a boundary corner on a route?
I don’t mean to pick on Burton, I think he is doing a fine job. But this is the type of play design that should be going to a player with Shaheen’s skill-set. Burton just doesn’t have the speed to turn this play up field or the experience catching passes to stretch out here.
The underlying theme here though is play-calling. I can say — without giving up anything for another article about the offense — that this is a microcosm of the offense as a whole. Strange personnel groupings, over or under-use of players, predictable play-calling, and the most egregious of all, tipping your hand.
You can believe if I am finding out this information, that every team’s defensive control coach is as well. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to find the trends when they are this obvious. If a run is coming 86.4% of the time a given player is on the field, that is a problem. This team needs to do a better job of self-scouting.
I think we can all agree that this team is probably not winning the super bowl this year. For the 2017 Bears, it is about growth, showing improvement, developing your quarterback, seeing which players are truly a part of your core moving forward. For the coaching staff, it is about fighting for your job, or heck, auditioning for your next job. In that vein, it makes you wonder: where in the world is Adam Shaheen?