With how much the Chicago Bears put into revamping their passing game this offseason, it’s easy to overlook the importance that the running game will have towards whatever success they have in 2018. In last season’s prehistoric offense, they still managed to finish 12th in the league with a 4.2 yards per carry, while having the 16th most rushing yards.
Even with how predictable Chicago’s O was last year (Spoiler alert: Very), Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen each were able to flash some play-making ability.
With a coached up and improved quarterback, and new faces among the receiving corps, the passing attack will help compliment the running game, giving the Bears a modern offense. Head coach Matt Nagy will use position groups, formations, and scheme to take advantage of mismatches, and his talented backfield will be the engine helping his offense purr.
Bucky Brooks of NFL.com recently gave his picks for the best backfield committees in the league, and Howard and Cohen checked in at number four.
For a team that won just five games in 2017, the Bears have plenty of reasons for optimism heading into the new season. And a lot of the positive vibes spawn from this 1-2 backfield punch, which gave opponents fits last fall. Howard has eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing in each of his first two NFL seasons, exhibiting a one-cut running style that is ideally suited for rugged runs between the tackles.
Not to mention Howard’s ability to thrive when running out of the shotgun, something he’ll get back to doing this year.
Cohen is a 5-6, 181-pound jitterbug with explosive stop-start quickness and wiggle. He routinely makes defenders miss in tight quarters and is nearly impossible to snag in the open field. As a designated receiver out of the backfield, Cohen exhibits Darren Sproles-like playmaking ability, but he is more polished and refined as a pass catcher. Considering Matt Nagy’s experience working with versatile playmakers in Kansas City, the Bears’ backfield could be a treat to watch in 2018.
Even though Nagy and the Chiefs had a bell-cow tailback last year with Kareem Hunt, Nagy was accustomed to a committee approach during most of his time working with head coach Andy Reid. Nagy will know how to get the most out of his dynamic duo, and don’t be surprised when he finds some touches for his number three tailback, Benny Cunningham.