The best thing the Bears had going for them early in the season was rookie running back Tarik Cohen. For the first month he was their most effective weapon, but lately his role and his impact have been significantly reduced.
Cohen didn’t waste any time making a splash in the NFL. In his debut the fourth round pick finished with 113 yards and a touchdown against Atlanta. Two weeks later Cohen gained another 102 yards in the Bears upset win over Pittsburgh.
“It was easy to get him the ball early in the year because everyone was like, ‘Hey this guy’s got some quickness’. He played well, showed up a little bit against Arizona, then he kind of jumped on the scene quickly and how much we were targeting him early in the year,” says offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains.
But his targets and production have tailed off since then. In his last two games Cohen combined for a total of just 18 yards of offense.
“If you just looked at the tape you see he is that explosive guy that everyone has eluded to including Dowell, but at this stage when you put him as a wide out they’re (opposing defenses) going to double him,” says head coach John Fox.
That’s not the only reason Cohen’s numbers have dropped. He only played 13 snaps against Green Bay. The Bears are playing Benny Cunningham over Cohen during their two minute offense and on third down because of Cunningham’s blocking ability.
“The protections are the hardest things to be in that role as a back in particular in passing situations. Those are things any young player…it’s probably the last thing that comes,” says Fox.
Despite his recent struggles and lack of playing time Cohen is still the Bears leading receiver with 29 catches. So some way the Bears have to find a way for him to make an impact on the field.
“He’s a dynamic playmaker that’s pretty obvious,” says quarterback Mitch Trubisky. “We just need to find ways to get him the ball, and I know we will. It’s an emphasis for us.”