Matt Nagy’s impact on Tarik Cohen

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 16: Tarik Cohen
DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 16: Tarik Cohen /

Tarik Cohen could be one of the big beneficiaries of the hiring of Matt Nagy

Now that Matt Nagy is hired and he has started to put his coaching staff together, it is time to think about what he can do with this roster. Nagy is going to call the plays, but only has six games of play calling experience. What does he bring?

Many have questioned if the move is better for Tarik Cohen or Jordan Howard. The answer is likely going to be both. The fact of the matter is that the two should have been playing on the field at the same time more this season. Howard played just over 58% of the teams snaps, Cohen just over 36% and Cunningham just over 17%. You can cut from Cunningham, but there is no reason Howard plays less than 60% and Cohen less than 40%. Even those bars should be looked at as lows. Cohen coming onto the field does not mean that Howard needs no to come off. The two backs provides schematic advantages having diverse weapons on the field. Tarik Cohen has true receiving abilities, so even with extra tight ends, or just those two backs the respect for both the pass and the run is always lurking.

There are a lot of things Nagy did over those six games with Tyreek Hill that could very easily translate to the game of Tarik Cohen. Cohen is close to the same size as Hill, and while he is not as fast, he is more versatile and thicker framed. Still, when it comes to a role is the Chiefs offense, Cohen could do most of what Nagy asked him to do.

Most of what Hill was asked to do was run deep and deceive defenses. Nagy used Hill in motion a lot to keep defenses honest, and thinking. It helped get the dynamic weapon the ball in space.

Nagy uses the motion and play action to clear space on the sideline for Hill. He has two blockers against two defenders, and Hill choosing how to navigate the deep safety.

Then there is the Bears version of getting Cohen involved in the passing game.

Quick pass to the flats. No window dressing, no idea that it could be a run or that the ball could go to anyone else.

After the first game of the season the coaches had mentioned that teams adjusted to Cohen, but they just adjusted away from Cohen themselves. They got predictable to the point where him being on the field likely meant he was going to get the ball. If Cohen was lining up wide, all eyes were on him.

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Then, there is the execution. You can tell the Chiefs preach these plays. They bring in selfless blockers to help as receivers. Albert Wilson and Demarcus Robinson are not world beaters, but know their assignments and pick them up.

The Bears were just figuring things out. A lot of their later season attempts to Cohen seemed forced and out of structure. The play above is fluid and smooth.

The fluidness comes from the consistency of having Cohen, I mean, Hill as a staple in the offense. Nagy understands that having a player on the field matters whether he gets the ball or not. He is going to put Cohen in motion to make reading the defense easier on his young quarterback. Trubisky can send Cohen back across the line, keeping the defense shifting as the ball is snapped.

On the play below Kareem Hunt, and Tyreek Hill both could run this ball as the it is snapped. However, it is an Alex Smith pass, with both of those potential runners turning into potential receivers. Howard playing Hunt and Cohen-Hill is very doable in this scenario. This keeps defenses honest.

The play below is tough to see because of the shade, but a simple way to get Tarik Cohen the ball in space. Travis Kelce is lined up one step ahead of Tyreek Hill. Both of them run quick slants, and Kelce essentially is shielding Hill to catch the ball and run into space. Could this be Adam Shaheen?

Lastly Nagy uses his tight end once again to clear space for the speed and open field destruction of Hill. The big body is a road block for the linebacker and Hill has space immediately.

 Cohen is not a wide receiver

There is this glaringly obvious difference that is going to discredit some from the idea the second they read it. Tarik Cohen is not a wide receiver, Tyreek Hill is. The point is that while Hill is a wide receiver, everything he does, Cohen can do. Hill was targeted 29 times over the six games of Nagy. 12 came from the slot, and 16 of them came within five yards of the line of scrimmage.

The Bears can line Cohen up out wide, send him in motion or use him for screens.

They can also stick him in the slot, and send him deep.

Plus, when called upon, Tarik Cohen can run routes. He can run the routes away from the line of scrimmage as he torches Kevon Seymour below.

And he can go over the middle. Below, Cohen runs an excellent route featuring a spin move and adjusts to catch a low pass.

Again, Cohen is working out of the slot and seems a push to the outside to freeze the defender and clear himself space in the middle.

Based on the targets that Hill saw in Kansas City under the play calling of Matt Nagy, there is no reason to think Cohen cannot take the heavy load on the majority of those. It was built around having the ball near the line of scrimmage, and having the threat of run pre snap tied in. A perfect fit for Tarik Cohen.

Everyone will be talking about the connection of Matt Nagy and Mitchell Trubisky. The two will be linked together for a while. However, it could an underlying impact could be how important the hiring of Matt Nagy is to the statistical career of Tarik Cohen.