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Opponent preview: Chicago Bears’ running back Tarik Cohen

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Tarik Cohen is coming to Buffalo. We take a look at what wrinkles the Bears’ dual-threat tailback adds to their offense

Tarik Cohen is like a box of chocolates. Appearing on the field for 45% of offensive snaps, Cohen’s presence is unpredictable. Adding to that unpredictability, Cohen is just as likely to see time in the passing game as he is the running game. With 43 carries and 41 passes thrown his way, Cohen’s picture accompanies the encyclopedia entry for “Threat, Dual.” Also of note, Cohen’s touches fluctuate wildly between games. With a high of 13 in both carries and targets, he has seen lows of four carries and one target. While we may not know what we’re gonna get, let’s take a look inside the box to see what we might find.


Play 1

Tarik Cohen is often sent to the edges to do damage, and this play illustrates why it works for the Chicago Bears. His straight line speed gets a couple yards as he heads to the sideline. A last-second turn upfield takes advantage of a narrow lane while maintaining good speed and adds even more yards.

Play 2

Two defenders had a shot at tackling Cohen for a loss. The clip slows down to show Cohen making both of them miss. There are enough Green Bay Packers defending the edge in front of Cohen to make him hesitate and make the tackle.

Play 3

Tarik Cohen is often used as a safety valve and trusted to make something from nothing. On this play Cohen shows off excellent vision with this short catch over the middle. He’s on his blocker like glue and glides around to avoid a tackle and get some extra yards.

Play 4

Cohen isn’t used up the middle as often as they run him outside. There’s positives on this short gain still. Like most shiftier runners, Cohen can sometimes get caught up trying to find a lane that will never appear. It isn’t universal by any means and the willingness to get what he can is a major positive on this snap.

Play 5

On the other hand, sometimes a little dance is called for. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the inside lanes bottled up. Cohen shimmies side-to-side a bit and then takes off. What could have been a run for no gain or a loss becomes a large chunk play thanks to Cohen.

Play 6

Tarik Cohen isn’t the most refined route runner, but he has a couple moves he can execute well. His speed always makes him a threat as he demonstrates on this play. Taking off from the slot he finds a lot of breathing room and makes a catch for a big gain.

Play 7

This isn’t as frequent as lining up from the slot position or out of the backfield for Cohen but the Bills will want to keep an eye out. Route-running limitations mean Cohen is likely being told to just “go” when he’s on the outside. As we see, it’s not like there’s a problem with this strategy from time to time. A better throw here might be a touchdown.


In Conclusion

Tarik Cohen compares favorably to LeSean McCoy in style and ability with the ball in his hands. His lower snap count is the result of being less of a complete back. For instance, while Shady isn’t known for his blocking skills, Cohen is nearly allergic to it. The Bears very rarely ask him to help in pass protection. Cohen will sometimes avoid contact rather than chipping a defender on his way out. So if he’s on the field it’s a good bet he’ll be running. The Bills will want to make sure someone is there with him.