He’s 5’ 6. He weighs in at a slim 179 pounds. He is the answer to Chicago’s playoff aspirations. This is Tarik Cohen.
This past season, casual and hardcore fans alike found themselves in awe of the spectacle that is “The Human Joystick”. With his game-breaking jukes and underrated speed, Cohen became a major weapon in rookie Quarterback Mitch Trubisky’s arsenal.
Then he found himself lost in the sea of horrid play calling that was John Fox’s final year in Chicago. A star in the works, Cohen was routinely left out of the game plan or forced to run up the middle as if he wasn’t already dealing with his lack of size.
Somehow, with the loaded backfield of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, the Bears found themselves in the middle of the NFL for rushing yards per game. To compare this to another backfield, the NFC South Champion New Orleans Saints utilized a backfield of two Pro Bowl caliber running backs in Mark Ingram and offensive Rookie of the Year Alvin Kamara to great success. The result was the fifth ranked rushing attack and a trip to the playoffs. Granted, Brees presence as a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback helps develop the running game as well as a newly fortified defense.
How can the Bears mimic the Saint’s much more efficient rushing offense? The first step would be to acknowledge that the pairs of backs are, while similar, different. In my opinion, Kamara could run the Saints’ offense without the help of another back especially one as talented as Mark Ingram. Kamara is 5’10 and 215 pounds. That is a lot more size than the quicker Cohen. Kamara can occasionally rush straight through the offensive line and find himself breaking free. Cohen’s greatest plays come when he finds himself in open space. The differences between Howard and Ingram are slimmer. The two are very close physically and in running style. The amount of usage is something that the Bears can and should mimic.
HOW TO USE COHEN
If Kamara isn’t a perfect comparison to Cohen as a player, who is?
Tyreek Hill. Matt Nagy’s favorite toy in Kansas City has come again in the form of Cohen for the new Bears’ coach. This is not to say that Chicago should move Cohen over to WR and parade him as the next great wide receiver. It does mean that Cohen finally has a coach that can use him to abuse the defenses across the NFL.
Since the Nagy hire, there has been an idea that Chicago fans should hope for. The usage of a dual backfield and the strength in Nagy’s creative play calls can finally push Cohen into space where he excels. Using Cohen as a 1B to Howard’s 1A and potentially throwing him into the slot where he can give slower linebackers and slot corners fits would utilize his skill set and help Trubisky’s development into a better quarterback. An explosive weapon like Cohen along with Cameron Meredith’s return and Howard’s continued strength in the run game would be monumental for the young quarterback. The Bears are near locks to find receiving help as well through the free agency and the draft so this would not be an every down position for Cohen. This flexibility he offers, however, is why he is instrumental to the Bears hopes for 2018.
With Cohen’s usage on the rise, it only makes sense that his potential fantasy value would rise. Last year, the back was a spot flex starter in some circumstances due to Fox’s refusal to use him. Now, my prediction is Cohen will rise up to at least a weekly Flex option, if not a RB2. I am projecting Cohen’s ideal usage to be close to 150 carries and 80-90 receptions per season.
Cohen might be small but his value will have the Bears standing tall in the playoffs.