Matt Nagy Will “Put the Ball in His Playmakers’ Hands” and Let His Quarterback Just “Play Ball”
Player-to-player comparisons in the NFL are difficult to peg because not only are players themselves different, but their positions, roles, responsibilities, and the schemes they play in can be very different, too.
So it should come as no surprise that some are irked by the concept of Bears running back Tarik Cohen garnering a favorable comparison to Chiefs receiver Tyreek Hill:
Minor pet peeve: When people compare Tyreek Hill and Tarik Cohen. They're completely different players and completely different athletes. Tyreek is legitimately a top-12 WR in the league, and would be a good WR even if he didn't run a 4.25. Cohen is a RB and not as explosive.
— Ian Kenyon (@IanKenyonNFL) February 13, 2018
But what if that comparison comes from the player in the first place:
Tyreek Hill: “[The Bears] do have a Tyreek. They have a Tarik Cohen, and he’s nice.”
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) February 3, 2018
If Hill sees Cohen as a player built from the same cloth – a speedy playmaker who can present a schematic mismatch because of his skills as a running back and receiver – and new Bears head coach Matt Nagy can develop a game-plan like the one suggested by Darren Sproles, then the comparison won’t be as far-fetched as others might suggest.
“They got a tremendous leader,” Hill said when discussing the Bears’ new head coach with Chris Emma of CBS Chicago. “He’s young, so he’s kind of fresh into the game. He’s going to come up with a lot of new ideas – what these old-school coaches don’t got. I like it.”
Nagy truly made his mark on the Chiefs when he was handed play-calling duties late in the season and the team responded by averaging more than 28 points per game down the stretch. Hill was a major force behind the late-season push, so if he is painting Nagy as a coach who can help take Cohen’s skills to another level with the help of a progressive scheme, then it’s possible the Bears’ offense will be on a fast track toward significant improvement in 2018.
“He just took chances,” Hill said of Nagy, via Emma. “He put the ball in his playmakers’ hands. Me, Kareem (Hunt), (Travis) Kelce, and he gave the ball to Alex (Smith) and let Alex play ball. He trusted Alex a lot. Alex was out there being free, slinging the ball around, handing it off to Kareem and everything was falling together. We were putting up points.”
There is no doubt that having playmakers like Hill, Kelce, and Hunt made things exponentially easier for Smith under center. Adding game-breakers to among the skill position players is something GM Ryan Pace has to do in order for Nagy to fully trust Mitch Trubisky the way he did with Smith. Plugging in Cohen, Jordan Howard, and Adam Shaheen is an OK place to start, but there is a way to go for this group to be in the same ballpark with Kansas City’s star trio.