Tarik Cohen’s debut was one of the biggest surprises of Week 1 as the little-known fourth-round pick from a MEAC school was the driving force of the Bears offense with 158 all-purpose yards.
Another major surprise from that game was Cohen’s absence on a handful of the game’s final plays on that fateful last drive when the Bears marched to the Falcons 5-yard-line and looked poised to score a late-game touchdown and take the lead. Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains offered up an explanation, albeit one that might not please anyone:
Bears OC Dowell Loggains on why Tarik Cohen wasn't on field more on final drive: "He's not ready to handle the burden of everything now."
— David Haugh (@DavidHaugh) September 13, 2017
Loggains believes Cohen is “not ready to handle the burden of everything now” which, at face value, could be true. Cohen is a rookie who played his college ball at the FCS level, and is still growing as a player. He also spent a bunch of time with the second unit in training camp and the preseason, so he could still be getting himself acclimated with the first team offense.
On the other hand, the Loggains’ usage of Cohen in Week 1 directly contradicts that exact thought.
The Bears put a lot on Cohen’s plate during his debut performance. Cohen played 28 snaps, led the team in targets, receptions, receiving yards, rushing yards, returned three punts, and ran a play out of the wildcat formation as a quarterback. That seems like a rather big burden to handle for a rookie making his NFL debut. If that’s what a less-burdensome role looks like, I can’t imagine what added responsibilities Cohen will have in the weeks to come.
Cohen figures to play a major role in the Bears offense. Even though the secret is out on the speedy running back, his presence gives the offense an added wrinkle of being a pass catcher out of the backfield who can also line up where wide receivers usually do. With the Bears’ receiver options dwindling, Cohen should continue to get targets from quarterback Mike Glennon if things aren’t opening up downfield.
And if running back Jordan Howard’s shoulder injury is more significant than the Bears lead on, Cohen is in line to take on more carries as the team’s RB2.
At some point, Cohen will be ready to “handle the burden of everything” and that day could come sooner than expected.