This afternoon the Bears made highly anticipated roster moves of activating Adam Shaheen and placing Dion Sims on IR as the corresponding move to make room on the roster for Shaheen. Essentially they swap places as Shaheen now takes over the Y Tight End position from Sims who has likely seen his finally days as a Chicago Bear.
This is clearly a huge upgrade. Sims primarily has been used primarily as a blocker. With opposing teams knowing there is likely no chance Sims will get a target let alone be featured early in a route progression that gives the defense an advantage with predictability and having one less weapon to cover.
By replacing a strictly inline blocking Tight End with one who can be dangerous in routes as well you give the defense one more thing to worry about. Shaheen on top of being a far better receiving threat he’s also a more dangerous blocker too.
Sims is known for his blocking but has regressed this season for whatever reason. Whether it’s because of injury, age, complacency or whatever it’s clear he is not the force as a blocker as he once was. There are many who feel the amount of concussions he’s sustained has taken their toll and he might be best off hanging his fleets up. Perhaps it’s advice he’ll take and should take.
Shaheen gives Mitch Trubisky a different type of target he currently doesn’t have. It also gives Matt Nagy another toy to tinker with when looking over his playsheet and dialing up a play to exploit based on matchup and situation.
In Shaheen, the Bears have a large target who can move with athleticism and agility. He also is very quick and while far from a burner he runs extremely well for a man of his size. He also has a large catch radius with long arms and big strong yet extremely soft hands. He is an excellent high pointer using that jump timing he honed as a basketball player in High school and college. This will make him especially hard to cover in the red zone and on 3rd downs. Not a bad option to add to an ascending offense.
He’s someone that the Bears hope helps get their runnimg game going too. He was a pretty accomplished run blocker last season and drastically improved as an inline pass blocker as the season moved along. So he isn’t just a one trick pony which makes the Bears more multiple and far less predictable.
Another factor that should help the running game is the use of more 12 personnel (1 Running Back/2 Tight Ends) sets. The obvious factor is having an extra run blocker without having to sacrifice unpredictability as you can easily send one or both out in pass patterns as well as keeping one or both in to block in pass protection or as run blockers.
When you look at two tight ends like Shaheen and Trey Burton you can’t help but think back to the New England Patriots offense when Aaron Hernandez played the “U” role Burton plays with the Bears and Rob Gronkowski playing the “Y” Tight End role that Shaheen will be playing.
If a defense decides to play an extra Safety in the box as Minnesota often does 12 personnel can create issues for a defense in a single high safety coverage by sending a possible 4 vertical threats in patterns without as many bodies covering space in coverage. If they back off in a two she’ll look than the running game has a potential 8 separate gaps to run through.