Bears’ RB Tarik Cohen Blames 2019 Decline on Ex-Teammate’s Departure

Chicago Bears RB Tarik Cohen

Getty Chicago Bears RB Tarik Cohen has just signed a three-year extension with the team. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Tarik Cohen has been one of the more exciting Chicago Bears players to watch over the last few seasons, but in 2019, he had his worst year statistically since he entered the league in 2017. He averaged just 3.3 yards per carry, and his 669 total yards were the fewest of his career. After achieving All-Pro status in 2018 as a punt returner, Cohen disappointed last season, and he knows it.

When he spoke to the media via Zoom last week, Cohen discussed his offseason workouts with Mitchell Trubisky and other Bears teammates. He also took accountability for his drop off last year, although he did suggest the departure of one former teammate may have contributed to his slow 2019 season.

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Cohen Missed RB Benny Cunningham’s Presence in 2019

Cohen told the media he felt his body was noticeably more fatigued last season, and he thinks he knows why.

“I definitely felt a lot towards the end of the year that my body was deteriorating a little more than I normally feel,” Cohen admitted, noting his hips felt tight and his back had been bothering him. “I’ve been doing yoga now, stretching more often, just the small, training room in-house things that you do to keep your body durable and to keep the wear and tear of the season off you longer.”

Cohen said he “really slacked” when it came to maintaining an offseason regime last year, and he didn’t want to make the same mistake again. His role on the team is changing, and he recognizes that. “Right now I have to be that leader in the running back room,” Cohen said. “I had Benny [Cunningham] before then, so I always had older guys with me that would keep me in line … I would see them in the training room, and that would make me want to do it, but I feel like [last] year, I didn’t have that,” Cohen noted.

Cunningham was with the Bears from 2017-18, and last year was the first season Cohen played without him on the squad. Cohen will now have to find a way to get back to his 2018 form without a veteran leading the way, or he may find himself in a different jersey next season.

2020 Is a Contract Year for Cohen

Will playing for a new contract be a primary motivator for Cohen? His rookie deal is up at the end of the 2020 season. “That’s definitely a motivating factor being that this is the year. I can’t put pressure on nobody else. It’s all on me,” he said.

Another good sign could come from a dialed-down Bears offense, which Cohen says is coming. “We’ll probably go back to doing the things we were doing in 2018,” Cohen said. “I feel like we’ve just got to simplify things. At times we made it too hard on ourselves. We didn’t have people guessing — we were kind of showing our cards a little bit,” he said of the team’s lackluster offensive performance last year.

Cohen suggested things would be different in 2020, but he also hinted that new OC Bill Lazor will keep defenses guessing. “Coach Lazor, already seeing the things he has planned for us, it’s gonna be hard to tell who’s getting the ball and when and how they’re getting the ball, too.”

If Cohen can step up and be a leader on offense once again, he should secure a solid deal, either in Chicago, or elsewhere.

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