Chicago Bears: Tarik Cohen must receive larger role in games

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 28: Tarik Cohen /

As the Chicago Bears look to jump-start their offense in the second half, plenty of eyes will be centered on rookie running back, Tarik Cohen. John Fox and his coaching staff must get Cohen more involved in the offense, moving forward.

Tarik Cohen has had a roller-coaster first half of the season for the Chicago Bears. It started off in impressive fashion with plenty of note-worthy, highlight-reel runs. Lately though, it’s been more of the opposite.

Aside from an impressive catch here and there, Cohen has been almost non-existent in the Bears’ offense throughout the last two games. Against the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers, Cohen had just 4 rushing attempts total. Along with just two receptions.

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This is not what Bears fans had expected from Cohen on a regular basis. To become an afterthought, in an offense that is making an alarming habit out of struggling to score points.

John Fox and his offensive coordinator, Dowell Loggains, must do a better job getting their speedy running back more touches during games moving forward. Furthermore, the coaching staff must play to Cohen’s strengths, rather than his weaknesses.

While Jordan Howard is the primary focal point of the Bears’ run-first offense, leaning too heavily on him can prove costly down the stretch. Howard has dealt with a nagging shoulder injury for much of this season. Reducing his heavy workload in games, thus providing Cohen more carries, will preserve Howard’s long-term availability.

Of course, handing the ball off to Cohen is only beneficial if the coaching staff puts him in the best position to have success. In order for that to happen though, the Bears’ offense needs to get more creative when he’s in the backfield. Simply put: Much of Cohen’s recent struggles running the ball stem from poor play-calling.

Designed runs up the middle are only beneficial if Howard is receiving the handoff. He’s the strong, bulldozer back, who can still run effectively up the middle. Bullying past incoming defenders for hard-earned yards after contact.

The same unfortunately cannot be said in regards to Cohen. At 5′ 6″,180 lbs., Cohen is not built to withstand harsh punishing hits given by much larger defenders. Yet, as of late, Fox and Loggains are setting Cohen up for just that. Calling designed runs up the middle for the rookie, as if he’s built the same way as Howard.

The Bears’ offense would instead be better served having Mitch Trubisky pitch the ball off to Cohen on the outside. Or lining Cohen up in the backfield for more stretch runs. Any type of run design that allows Cohen an opportunity to use his speed and agility to throw outside defenders off-balance.

In addition, to maximize Cohen’s offensive impact, how about we see the Bears utilize him more in the passing game? Of course, for that to truly happen moving forward, Trubisky has to throw the ball more than 10 times a game. That’s all upon the coaching staff finding more ways to jump-start a lackluster offense to date.

Utilizing more designed screen-passes to Cohen would be a start. Quick passes that can create positive yardage given Cohen’s playmaking ability. Furthermore, the coaching staff should use Cohen as a slot-receiver more frequently. While he’s never going to be a jump-ball receiving threat, Cohen can thrive off of running slant route plays for easy catch and runs.

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Only time will tell if the Bears coaching staff trusts Cohen enough to have an expanded role on offense. Given his talent though, it’s difficult to imagine him not having a greater impact on games over the course of the second half. Much like he did early on in the first half of the season, when he exploded onto the scene in memorable fashion.