Last month, NFL.com ranked the top running back by committee backfields heading into the 2018 season. They had the Chicago Bears duo of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen at No. 4. Analyst Bucky Brooks wrote that the “rugged” between the tackle running of Howard, and the “explosive” open field running of Cohen could be a “treat to watch” in Matt Nagy’s offense.
No. 4 seemed like a fair spot to list these two together. They have complimentary styles and an offensive think-tank plotting ways to use them along a revamped passing attack.
ESPN’s Mike Clay recently gave this backfield list a spin and he took into account the top three running backs in each equation. Since his list is behind a paywall we’ll only spotlight his Bears’ thoughts. But I don’t think we need to see all 14 teams (!) listed ahead of them to know that his list is suspect at best.
15. Chicago Bears
Top three backs: Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, Benny Cunningham
Projected unit stats: 332 carries, 1,400 yards, 10 TDs; 97 receptions, 773 yards, 3 TDs
Outlook: Howard and Cohen form one of the league’s most intriguing young duos, but there’s a reason why the two recent mid-round picks aren’t ranked higher here. Howard has been a great rusher since entering the league in 2016, ranking fifth in carries (528) and third in rushing yards (2,435), but he’s not well-rounded. While Howard’s efficiency dropped from “elite” as a rookie to “solid” in 2017, he has been one of the league’s worst receiving backs (5.4 career yards per target) so far.
Cohen was an explosive playmaker as a rookie, but a deeper look shows a 1.3 YAC (second worst at the position) and a shaky 5.26 yards per target. At 5-foot-6, 190 pounds, Cohen simply isn’t built for anything more than a change-of-pace role. There are some red flags here, but also massive upside, especially in new coach Matt Nagy’s offense.
I agree with his “massive upside” take, but No. 14?
Maybe Clay feels Cunningham is the downfall of the group, but if so, I disagree. He’s a solid backup tailback that can fill in on all three downs. He’s also a good special teamer, which is something that backup running backs need to be able to do in today’s NFL.
Do you guys think there are fourteen backfields better that Chicago’s?