It may be just one game into his rookie season, but Tarik Cohen, paired with Jordan Howard, may just be the NFL’s best rushing combo.
If you didn’t watch the Chicago Bears season opener and just checked the final score on your smart phone, you wouldn’t have been very surprised by the outcome. The Bears, coming off a 3-13 season, dropped their opener to the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons 23-17. But for those who only checked the final score, you missed the coming out part of rookie Tarik Cohen.
The Bears showed quite a dynamic duo in the backfield. Jordan Howard followed up his fantastic rookie year with a decent game. He averaged 4.0 YPC and found the end zone, although he potentially dropped what could have been the game winning pass. But Cohen turned heads. He showed what the Bears saw to make him their fourth round pick out of North Carolina A&T. Cohen was electric with the football and was the closest thing to Barry Sanders that we’ve seen in the NFL in the last 20 years.
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No, he is not Barry Sanders, but his elusiveness, agility and ability to be at full speed in 2 steps hasn’t been seen since No.20 was running the ball for the Detroit Lions. With Howard coming off the rookie year he had, combined with the dynamic talents that Cohen flashed in week one, it’s not too early to ask if the Bears have the best running back combo in the league.
Most teams that have a legit RB1 that can shoulder 20 touches a game don’t invest much in the running backs sitting behind them. Teams that have two or three running backs that get regular touches is due to the fact that none of their running backs can handle a workload or have the talent to be featured in an offense.
What the Bears have developing is a very unique combination of strength and speed. While Howard isn’t just a power back, he does have the ability to run in between the tackles and keep the chains moving. Cohen isn’t going to be seen on many dive plays, but his ability to bounce plays to the outside and make things happen is what will make him a weapon for a Dowell Loggains’ offense.
The only team that has truly shown the same type of dynamic pairing is, ironically, Atlanta. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are probably the league’s best duo, and based on what they’ve done the last couple seasons, it’s not fair to say the Bears have surpassed the Falcons’ duo. But, if Howard and Cohen can do what it appears they can do as a tandem, the Falcons may not have the league’s best running back pair by midseason.