We’re starting to see more statistical projections rolled out as we collectively make our way to the start of training camp. And among the trends we’ll surely continue to see is an increase in passing-game productivity from the Chicago Bears.
ESPN’s Mike Clay is at the forefront of these projections, and he sees some big things out of the Bears’ backfield – specifically, second-year running back Tarik Cohen.
Clay offers up every running back who is projected to have 20 catches (or more!) in 2018, and not only does Cohen make the cut, he’s in the top-10!. Cohen is projected to haul in 60 catches in 2018, which would put him tied for the sixth most among qualifying players at the position. To put that number in perspective, no one on the Bears caught 60 passes in 2017 (although, Kendall Wright came close with 59) and only one player caught at least 60 in 2016 (Cameron Meredith, now that’s a name I’ve not heard in quite some time).
Head Coach Matt Nagy is giddy about what Cohen can do in this offense. And why wouldn’t he be? Cohen took it upon himself to work out as a wide receiver during the offseason, which could add to his value as an offensive weapon. Additionally, Nagy has lined up Cohen (and other members of the Bears offense) at different positions in the offense so he can learn each other’s responsibilities. Versatility is one thing, but knowing your role and the duties of those around you is something that could pay off in the short- and long-run for a revamped offense.
Everything is pointing toward Cohen having a breakout season in Chicago. And yet, Cohen isn’t the only member of the Bears’ running game who figures to have a hand in catching passes from Mitch Trubisky.
Jordan Howard is projected to catch 29 passes in 2018, which is six more than he did last season. As a rookie, Howard was targeted 50 times, caught 29 passes, gained 298 yards, and even scored a touchdown. So while Cohen catching 60 passes would seemingly cut into Howard’s overall production, that might not turn out to be the case. And if the Bears can sharpen Howard’s pass-catching skills, we could be seeing an element to an offense that hasn’t been seen since Matt Forte was the Bears’ lead back.
An offensive-minded head coach working with a new offensive coordinator and new position coach should do wonders for Cohen and Howard in 2018. A different set of eyes will have different ideas for what they want to do with a players who own unique skill sets like the ones lining up in the Bears’ backfield. While projections are just that and should be taken at face value, Clay’s projections lend themselves as an example of how different the Bears’ offense figures to be with a new regime. Frankly, I’m at a point where I can’t wait for them to roll out the ball and get going in Bourbonnais.