Zach Miller got injured in 2016. Because if it’s a year, and Zach Miller is playing football during it, he’s going to get hurt. His injury left the Chicago Bears with a crop of tight ends that could be described as…”Who?”
Logan Paulsen was supposed to be a blocking option but caught three passes (and dropped around three hundred). Harvard UDFA Ben Braunecker wasn’t supposed to see the field. Four catches. Daniel Brown showed up out of nowhere and caught a touchdown pass. I still don’t know who MyCole Pruitt is.
The Bears established an offensive identity last season. Tough, physical offensive line anchoring a power run game on the back of Jordan Howard. But that identity lacked a crucial component once Miller was admitted into the infirmary: a tight end that could both be a force at the point of attack and a threat through the middle of the defense.
Outside of quarterback, where his aggressiveness will define his general management tenure, no position was attacked with more fervor this off-season than tight end by Ryan Pace.
- Dion Sims only has 74 receptions in four seasons but the Bears (a) signed him primarily for his physicality/blocking ability and (b) believe he’s capable of far more productivity if given the opportunity.
- Adam Shaheen may have been a surprise second-round selection but early reports – from Adam Jahns and many others – are that Shaheen has been the early star of rookie camp/OTAs. He’s a massive human being with great hands, a perfect complement to what Sims provides.
- Zach Miller is still here! And Zach Miller is still a very good player. But one should not expect Miller to contribute more than 8-10 games of healthy football.
And in case you were missing the Follies of ’16, worry not! Brown, Braunecker and Pruitt are all slated to be in Bourbonnais next month.
Do the Bears have a star tight end? It’s certainly possible if Shaheen becomes the player the Bears expect him to be. But one thing is certain: one of the biggest roster weaknesses in 2016 looks to be a major position of strength in 2017.