LAKE FOREST – From the moment fans found out that the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator, there was one player that Bears fans immediately had major hopes for in 2018.
Tarik Cohen’s speed, agility, and multi-faceted game figured to fit in perfectly with Matt Nagy’s scheme that takes advantage of players with such a skillset.
While 11 games proved that in varying ways in 2018, the true potential of Cohen came out in the 12th contest of the season.
A favorite of Chase Daniel out of the backfield against the Giants at a soggy Met Life Stadium, Cohen caught a career-high 12 passes for 156 yards on the game. Eight of those catches and 148 of those yards came in the second half, especially late in the fourth quarter.
That’s when Cohen had three catches for 45 yards on a field goal drive, then after a successful onside kick, got 37 more yards on a pair of catches to set the Bears up for the game-tying touchdown.
Oh, he threw that, too.
Taking a reverse pitch from Trey Bruton, Cohen threw to the endzone for Anthony Miller, who caught the touchdown pass to send the game to overtime.
“That’s a play that we’ve had for a long time, “said Cohen of the last touchdown. “I think we put it in (the playbook) in camp or the beginning of the season. It’s designed to go to the quarterback, and there’s a second read on there.
“They had covered Chase (Daniel), so… in practice, I actually had to throw it this week, even though Chase wasn’t covered (in practice), so it worked out.
While the Bears lost the game in overtime, Cohen made a dent in the Bears and NFL record book.
Per the Bears’ PR, his 12 catches tied the franchise record for a running back, joining Matt Forte who had the same amount against the Panthers on October 5, 2014. Cohen’s 14 targets also tied a Forte record that he had against the Saints on September 18, 2011.
His 156 receiving yards are the most for a Bears running back dating to 1960 and the most in the NFL out of the backfield this season.
By throwing a touchdown pass, Cohen joined an elite group that includes Hall of Famer Jerry Rice. His 150 or more yards, 12 or more catches, and touchdown pass in a single game makes him only the second along with the legendary receiver to pull off the feat in a single game.
“We just had a good scheme drawn up against their defense. Coach (Matt) Nagy and Coach (Mark) Helfrich were calling the plays up for me, ones that were designed to go to me,” said Cohen of his record day. “Chase was making a lot of scrimmage calls just to get me open, so whenever he did that, it was my job to step up and make those catches.”
It continues a strong production year for Cohen, whose talents are being full utilitzed in this offense this year. His receiving yards have gone from 353 yards in 16 games in 2017 to 659 in 12 games this season, with his average per catch jumping from 6.7 to 11.2.
Cohen has four receiving touchdowns and two on the ground, where he’s averaging 4.3 yards per carry. While the previous 11 games were great, nothing shows the running back’s potential more in this offense than three-and-a-half memorable hours at Met Life Stadium.