Jordan Howard didn’t get much action in the Chicago Bears’ preseason opener and didn’t play at all in the team’s second game due to a scratched cornea, but that didn’t stop the running game.
Heading into their all-important third preseason game against the Tennessee Titans, the Bears own one of the NFL’s most productive rushing offenses. Yes, I realize it’s just the preseason. And I absolutely understand preseason performance isn’t indicative of any regular season success that could be on the horizon. Even still, it’s something to marvel when you take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
The Bears are averaging 137.5 yards per game, which ranks third in the league, and have done so while employing a balanced attack of 67 runs and 65 passes. What’s most remarkable about the Bears’ rushing prowess is they are doing well despite Howard (3 carries, 4 yards) making minimal noise on the stat sheet.
Rookie Tarik Cohen has flashed and should be climbing up the depth charts soon with his 6.4 yards per carry average. Cohen was given the start in the team’s second preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals, and rewarded the coaching staff with 77 yards on just 11 carries. The rookie from North Carolina A&T isn’t going to supplant Howard as the team’s starter, but he’s proving himself to be a capable fill in.
There has been plenty of this going around from the fourth-round pick so far this preseason:
Tarik Cohen pic.twitter.com/f9bvae0ONz
— Kevin Marchina (@kg_holler) August 20, 2017
If we accept the definition of explosive run plays as attempts that gain 12 yards or more, then it’s worth noting the Bears have had at least five such plays. Free agent running back Benny Cunningham (26), Cohen (25), Ka’Deem Carey (18), Joshua Rounds (17), and Mitch Trubisky (16) have all broken off big plays on the ground game. If the Bears aren’t going to move the ball through the air with a precision passing game, they’ll need to produce big gains on the ground.
No skill position sees turnover like running back, so it’s good to see several players step in and keep the good times rolling in the ground game.
It says something about the construction of this roster when you see the variety of options the Bears have at this position. Unfortunately, a wrist injury to Carey will keep him out of action, but there are still three other backs on the depth chart contributing – and we haven’t even seen Jeremy Langford take the playing field.