Short answer for Bears' broken offense could be Tarik Cohen
What's wrong with a Chicago Bears offense that has a total of 2 touchdowns in the last three games and has plummeted to 29th in yards and tied for 28th in points?
The short answer would be “a lot.”
Another short answer would be: “5-foot-6 rookie running back Tarik Cohen.”
There has been a failure by the Bears to get the ball into the hands of players most capable of improving an offense that has scored more than 17 points just twice all year and once in the past six games.
Cohen caught 16 passes over his first two NFL games. But in the past five games he has caught a total of 5, although one was for 70 yards, an indication of what he's capable of with the ball in his hands.
But it was only in his hands twice on plays from scrimmage during Sunday's 23-16 loss to the Green Bay Packers — a 1-yard run and a 10-yard reception.
“You're looking at one game,” Bears coach John Fox said. “Sometimes the defense dictates who gets the ball.”
But sometimes the offense dictates what the defense does. And it's actually in the last three games, when Cohen totaled 5 carries and 3 catches, that the Bears all but made him disappear.
“I don't keep track of that,” rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky said when informed that Cohen played 13 snaps against the Packers. “But he's a dynamic playmaker, that's pretty obvious. So we just need to find ways to get him the ball, and I know we will.
“That's an emphasis for us. We can use him as a decoy as well because teams are double-teaming him and changing their personnel based on when he's out there.”
Fox and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains also have noted that Cohen frequently attracts double-team attention, which would seem to be a mandate for having him on the field more. If Cohen's doubled that has to make the defense susceptible elsewhere.
Fox pointed out that Cohen, who also returns punts and kickoffs, does not have a major role in the two-minute offense and that, at 5-feet-6 and 179 pounds, he's not ideal in blitz pickup. But the Bears never trailed by more than 7 points Sunday, except for 2½ minutes early in the fourth quarter, when they trailed by 10.
“He's still learning that (two-minute) package,” Fox said. “The guy plays quarterback in Wildcat. He's our punt returner. He's our kick returner. He plays receiver. He plays running back. And he has played nine games in the NFL.”
But if you blinked you might have missed Cohen's participation in the previous three games, during which the offense scored a total of 31 points.
“At some point he will grow more into the third-down and two-minute roles, as he continues to progress,” Loggains said. “He's playing more receiver now, and there's only one ball. If you're giving (Jordan) Howard carries, it's hard to get Tarik carries. He's a game-plan player for us. We use him in specific ways, and we're going to continue to do that.”
Finding more ways to get Cohen the ball, or at least get him on the field as a decoy, would help fix a broken Bears offense.