By Chris Emma—
CINCINNATI, Ohio (670 The Score) – From the April evening they were paired together, Bears rookies Mitchell Trubisky and Adam Shaheen have set their sights on Sundays like this together.
They were a natural tandem, the poised quarterback prodigy and massive tight end target, and they realized the potential. Trubisky and Shaheen soon began working to form a connection, and they've made progress.
During the Bears' 33-7 win over the Bengals on Sunday, it was Shaheen making a major impact for Trubisky and the offense. Beyond hauling in four receptions for 44 yards and a touchdown, he made a difference simply by being on the field. Shaheen helped unclog the box for Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen and the Bears' blockers in the running game, and he spaced the defensive backfield for receiver Kendall Wright.
"When you're rolling, it helps out everybody," Shaheen said.
The Bears' second-round pick in April's draft and a player vital in the team's big picture, Shaheen played just nine snaps during a loss to the 49ers a week prior. It brought heat on offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, who suggested that Shaheen wasn't quite ready for a bigger burden. Of course, the argument to the contrary is that game action can help his readiness.
Trubisky and Shaheen took to heart what Loggains had said and went to work during the week. They often spend extra time on routes after practice and continued to do so in the aftermath of that loss. Trubisky wanted to get his Shaheen incorporated with their game plan.
On Sunday, the Bears counted on Shaheen in key situations. A week after struggling on third down, Shaheen moved the chains twice – including once on fourth down – and was targeted twice in goal-line situations, hauling in a touchdown pass from a yard out.
With Shaheen on the field, the Bengals were forced to account for his large 6-foot-6, 270-pound frame, which opened holes for Howard and Cohen to combine for 227 rushing yards.
"We just moved the ball with ease on them," Howard said. "We had them off balance. They didn't know if we were running or throwing."
Trubisky deserves plenty of credit for what the Bears were able to do offensively. Facing a beleaguered Bengals defense, the Bears took advantage of the chance to put up some points. They sustained drives better than any game this season and looked like an entirely different offense.
Just having Shaheen as a focal point to the offense gave the Bears a different look. They don't have another target who poses the physical threat he brings on any given play.
Shaheen drew comparisons to Rob Gronkowski coming out of Ashland University because of how he dominated a lesser level. Shaheen was a man among boys at the Division-II level, but the major jump in competition has proved to be difficult.
There's still plenty of work to be done for Shaheen, who will spend part of this upcoming offseason working with Trubisky to further strengthen their connection.
After a big day together, Trubisky and Shaheen were proud their efforts paid off in a Bears victory.
"It's a tribute to the extra work we put in," Trubisky said, "before and after practice, just getting on the same page."
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