When Matt Nagy became the head coach for the Chicago Bears, there was a level of excitement surrounding this team that hasn’t been felt in years.
The predictable play-calling of the past was about to be replaced by one of the most brilliant young minds in football and there was an obvious culture change taking place. It was as if the Bears that have been in hibernation for years woke up and were preparing to hunt.
This was exciting for everybody involved on the offense, but the player who seemed to have the highest ceiling in Nagy’s system was running back Tarik Cohen.
Cohen was coming off an inconsistent rookie season that saw his production bounce all over the place in a system that couldn’t find a way to utilize him to his full potential.
With an offensive guru like Nagy taking over, the general thought was that Cohen could become something special and was optimistically being compared to Tyreek Hill. Hill is a receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs that very well may be the most electric player in the NFL.
They have similar styles as they’re both dynamic players that have the ability to make a big play any time they get the ball. Under Nagy in 2017, Hill found success as he caught 75 passes for 1,183 yards.
The thought of Cohen making this leap one season after gaining a modest 736 yards of total offense seemed lofty, but through the first seven games of the season he’s not only keeping pace with Hill in 2017, he’s doing better.
One thing that immediately sticks out is that Cohen is getting the ball a lot more than Hill did in Nagy’s system, which explains why Hill’s yards per touch is so much higher than Cohen’s.
It should be mentioned that Cohen is listed as a running back, and Hill is a receiver. Still, Cohen is averaging 13.3 yards per reception, while Hill averaged 14.3 yards per reception through his first seven games of 2017.
Losing a full yard per reception isn’t ideal, but Cohen picking up 5.2 yards per carry surely helps even things out.
They may be two different players playing different positions, but saying Cohen is more valuable in this offense than Hill was at this point last year isn’t a stretch.
Time will tell if this type of production can be sustained by Cohen long term and if he can continue to perform similarly to Hill, but his development and success in Nagy’s system is undeniable.
So far in 2018, Hill is sixth in the NFL in receiving yards and tied for second in touchdowns. Cohen likely won’t become a top-five offensive player in the NFL, and that’s okay. He is exceeding all expectations set out for him and has become the X-factor for this offense.
Watching Cohen transform into Chicago’s version of “Tyfreak” Hill has been a pleasure and there’s no reason to expect a plateau anytime soon. Whether he makes the jump Hill has isn’t important; Cohen is a dynamic player and will be valuable for this offense for years to come.