As we continue with the unlikeliest most important Bears for the 2018 season, we move on to tight end Dion Sims. If you missed number 10 on new special teams ace DeAndre Houston-Carson, you can find that here.
Although Sims isn’t as unlikely of a hero as Houston-Carson—mainly due to the fact that he received a total guarantee of $10M last off-season—many pundits and fans, including myself, thought he would be cut in March. After an underwhelming maiden season with the Bears, the brain trust of Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy decided to give him another look.
I know, I know, I was right there with everyone else. The collective groans could actually be felt as I was typing Sims’ name, but hear me out. I wasn’t the only one excited by Sims’ upside when he signed (I’m looking at you Lester). And I have to imagine that based on Nagy’s comments, his role will be larger than people think.
Here is a snippet from The Athletic on May 24th:
“The nice thing with Dion is that he’s a guy that’s proven to be a solid blocker,” Nagy said. “He can be in there and be your ‘Y’ tight end, but yet he still has really good hands. He can make plays on intermediate routes. He’s not going to be anybody that’s a downfield threat — I think he knows that, we all know that — but he’s a valuable piece of this puzzle.”
That certainly sounds to me like they are planning on using him as more than just a blocker or 3rd tight end. While we all have high hopes for Adam Shaheen, and Trey Burton should be one of the focal points of this offense, I think that people need to embrace the idea that Sims will play a larger role than once thought. Don’t worry, Shaheen will still play a major role on offense this year, as he has reportedly been working on the things we all thought he needed to.
Switching gears back to Sims, I have a theory on why he was ultimately kept and not sent packing. I think that there might be a misconception that just because Nagy was brought in that the Bears will be this high-flying, pass-first offense. While they will almost assuredly pass more, probably considerably more, they will still lean heavily on Jordan Howard and the running game. A good running game is a young quarterback’s best friend after all.
Having 2 in-line tight ends that can both block and catch passes could make this offense particularly dangerous. Inside linebackers and/or safeties will need to respect both the running game and the pass when they see 2 tight end formations. With the amount of run/pass options (RPOs) that the Bears are likely to run, that makes them very difficult to defend.
Another thing to consider amidst the sudden bounty of wide receiver talent on the roster is that the passing game went through the tight ends in Kansas City. What’s another way to help a young quarterback? Why throwing over the middle to reliable targets that can get easy mismatches, that’s what! Perhaps the move to keep Sims had less to do with who Sims is as a player and more to do with helping out second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky? That is as plausible as any reason.
Despite a rocky 2017, Sims was almost always open. With an offense that will be able to create AND take advantage of mismatches better than previous iterations, I think we will see a much improved player. I would imagine that having Trubisky’s more accurate arm will be an a major help for him too.
Honestly, I am more concerned with the blocking aspect than receiving. But having Kevin Gilbride Jr. (tight ends coach) and Harry Hiestand (offensive line coach) should help round Sims into form there. Sims also came from the Dolphins with a reputation as a good blocker, so the talent is there. An offense that everyone buys into might just be the difference between a player showing up and a player giving his all. I am banking on the latter.
If you are looking for an under-the-radar player in this new-look offense, don’t sleep on Dion Sims...Matt Nagy certainly isn’t.