When the 2020 NFL regular season begins and the weeks begin to pass by, Tarik Cohen’s bank account will see a gradually larger deposit than in previous years.
According to Over The Cap’s Proven Performance Escalator Projections, Cohen exceeded the percentage of snaps a late-round draft pick (3rd-7th) needed to make in order to get a salary increase. Instead of the $735,000 Cohen was scheduled to make in 2020, he will now receive $2.147 million.
Not bad for the 5-foot-6, 181-pound running back from North Carolina A&T.
Since Cohen was drafted in 2017, he has been implemented more in the offense each season.
- 36.4 percent in 2017
- 46.1 percent in 2018
- 49.8 percent in 2019
The former fourth-round draft pick may be getting more playing time, but his production has been inconsistent. With his new raise and entering the final year of his rookie contract, the Bears’ organization and its fans should set their expectations high for Cohen next season.
This may be tough for Bears fans to do because Cohen’s 2019 season was forgettable. In 16 games, he had zero rushing touchdowns and finished with a 3.3-yards-per-carry average. In the receiving game, he was targeted 104 times, third among all running backs, but only accumulated 456 yards (5.8 yds per reception) and three touchdowns.
Another criticism of Cohen that has sparked a lot of outrage among fans is Cohen’s constant decision to run out of bounds. Just take a look at these tweets from throughout the 2019 season.
Does Tarik Cohen do anything other than just run out of bounds? I’ve never seen a player sprint faster to the sideline. I understand players need to protect themselves but running out of bounds every time you touch the ball is a little ridiculous
— Cameron J Brock (@brockcj1) September 6, 2019
Find someone who loves you like Tarik Cohen loves running out of bounds #Bears
— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) November 24, 2019
I wanna see a stat that shows how many yards Tarik Cohen leaves on the field by running out of bounds every time he touches the ball
— Cooper’s Papi (@harrisonbarzyk) December 29, 2019
There is no doubt Cohen is talented. He accounted for 1,602 all-purpose yards in 2018, which was the ninth-most among non-quarterbacks. When Matt Nagy schemed up plays to get Cohen the ball in 2018, it was more likely that production followed.
The production just didn’t translate in Year 2 of Nagy’s system. There are multiple reasons for that, such as not having healthy and productive tight ends, which made defensive coordinators focus on Cohen more. There also wasn’t any consistent blocking throughout the season and the same could be said for the quarterback play. The list goes on.
It was also apparent that Nagy mishandled Cohen’s versatility. If you just look at the Chicago Bears website, you will see that Cohen is listed as a RB. However, the stats and how he has been used in the offense over the past two seasons show something else.
In two seasons with Nagy, Cohen has been targeted 195 times compared to his 163 carries. Cohen is the second-most targeted player, trailing only Allen Robinson with 248 targets.
Nagy is trying to make Cohen into his version of Tyreek Hill. But Hill, the wide receiver, is primarily being used as a receiver. Cohen is being forced to play out of position.
For Nagy to get the best version of Cohen, he needs to play him to his strengths. He may be small, but he is a running back, and Nagy needs to put more of an emphasis on that as he moves forward as the play caller.
Of course, Cohen needs to play better as well. He can’t be tied for fourth in dropped passes with six, or run straight to the sidelines even though there is an opportunity to gain additional yards. Those tendencies need to stop for Cohen to be a reliable playmaker.
If those issues can be addressed, then Cohen should be primed for a memorable 2020 season. Cohen is set for a bigger pay day, and now he needs to prove he is worth the investment.
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