Tarik Cohen will finally be given all of the spotlight he can handle at running back for the Chicago Bears in 2019. While the stud has grown in popularity over the previous two seasons, in a way, he’s been held back in the shadows of Jordan Howard. On March 28th, those days came to an end for Cohen.
After being picked by the Bears in the fourth round of the 2017 draft out of NC A&T, Cohen has performed well above the league average for the Bears.
While some may say he still puts the ball on the ground too much to be counted on, the man has shown steady improvement.
After rushing for 370 yards on 87 carries, averaging over four yards every time he ran the ball in 2017, Cohen galloped for 444 yards with three touchdowns last year. He also had 71 receptions for 725 receiving yards, adding another five touchdowns in the process. That being said, after having two fumbles lost as a rookie in 2017, the total went up to three last year. This has become an unwanted stat every Bears fan is well aware of.
While Jordan Howard wasn’t much of a threat in the passing game, he proved his worth rushing the football. He was able to rack up 935 rushing yards last year on 250 attempts after breaking the 1,000-yard mark in each of the two previous seasons. Will Cohen be able to put up those same kinds of numbers his first year as the main man in the Bears backfield?
Tarik Cohen will have one advantage. A lot of the responsibility of Chicago’s ground attack won’t fall on his shoulders, alone. Both Mike Davis, who came over from Seattle, and rookie David Montgomery should see plenty of action. Again, this season, Cohen should be the weapon used the most in the passing game coming out of the backfield. That being said, Davis and Montgomery are going to be carrying the ball.
In his second year with Seattle last season, Davis ran the ball 112 times for 514 yards. No, those aren’t the most attractive numbers. But he produced a 4.6 yard per rush average. I think it’s safe to say he’s going to get a few opportunities on third and short this year.
David Montgomery was no joke his last season at the collegiate level. He had 257 carries for 1,216 yards while running across the goal line 13 times for Iowa State. He was able to put 157 receiving yards as the Cyclones went away from throwing to him out of the backfield and instead relied on him to rush the ball. There’s no reason why the rookie shouldn’t earn a big chunk of playing time in 2019.
As attractive as both these two are at the running back position, it’s safe to say Matt Nagy has the heart and mind of a pass-first coach. Howard’s ineffectiveness in passing situations is what led to Cohen having so many opportunities, to begin with. Tarik Cohen gave the head coach much to think about concerning who provided the advantage on the field with Trubisky.
If Cohen is going to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in 2019, he’s going to need some help. He will need the entire offensive line to be healthy, all season long. This hasn’t exactly been easy for Chicago in the last few seasons.
While Chicago has a good offensive line, they aren’t known for a whole lot of depth. One or two injuries puts an end to any kind of a solid rotation giving the guys a rest when needed. If the starters on the offensive line get tired, Cohen could have difficulty getting a solid running attack established.
He’ll also need Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Riley Ridley, and the rest of the receiving corps hitting on all cylinders with Mitch. The more of a threat the Chicago passing attack is, the bigger gap Cohen will have before hitting the first and second wave of defenders. Once Cohen can break through to open space, it’s game on.
The Bears will eventually have to make a big decision regarding Cohen’s contract and his future in Chicago. Yes, he’s a serious threat for any defense any time he touches the ball. That being said, Howard being traded the way he was after having his workload taken away how it was has left a sour taste with some. Cohen doesn’t have the luxury of progressing anymore as there are some big shoes to fill and it has to happen now.
Chicago will be a heavyweight in the NFC again this season. They are legit candidates to win the North, have a bye in the playoffs and be a contender if the offense can improve. Cohen is going to have the most productive season of his three-year career. There shouldn’t be any surprise whatsoever if he goes over 1,500 yards. Both rushing and receiving combined.
He’s been productive in the Chicago passing arsenal. To keep opposing defenses on their heels, Nagy will use Cohen on passing plays more than he did last year. This will create the extra split second of hesitation he needs to burst into his gap when running the ball. Using the I formation along with Davis should be huge this season on both first and second down.
Cohen will have his biggest opportunity yet to make himself a running threat in 2019. Chicago fans will have to anxiously wait to see if he’s up for the challenge.