SOLDIER FIELD -- There was something different about the Bears season opening 23-17 loss to the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons.
It wasn’t the fact that the Bears failed to tie the game on 4 downs inside the Falcons 5 yard line with under a minute left in the game. No, that was the familiar part. Yesterday at Soldier Field we witnessed proof that good things can sometimes come in small packages.
Tarik Cohen, the 5’6 180lb rookie running back was much more than meets the eye. Used as the Bears secret weapon, Cohen provided plenty of “oohs” and “ahhh’s” on his way to a team leading 66 yards rushing on just 8 carries and 8 catches for 47 yards. Tacking on another 45 yards via punt returns to give him 158 all purpose yards on the day, it was the most ever for a Bears rookie in a season-opening game since Matt Forte racked up 141 in his 2008 debut.
The Bears made the running game a focal point of the offense early and Cohen made the most of his touches shrugging off some early NFL sized hits but chalked them up to being his “Welcome to the NFL” moments. “It wasn’t that hard.” Cohen told The Bigs. “It was good sound effects to it but you know, I bounce back off that.”
And bounce back he did, making Atlanta defenders look like they were one ice skates trying to get a hand on the elusive bite-sized running back. As caught off-guard as Cohen made the Falcons look, there wasn’t anyone in the Bears locker room surprised at the big day from the rookie. ““I think the secret’s out” said Bears current starting quarterback Mike Glennon who connected on a . “We knew how good he was going to be with us and he showed that today.”
Head Coach John Fox echoed Glennon’s thoughts on Cohen. “Not real surprised” Fox said “I’ve been watching him for a month and a half or two months - I don’t really know the timeframe. We’ve seen him every day, so he didn’t surprise anybody who is in our locker room.”
Cohen himself took the “I do this” approach when asked by reporters about his big day. “I wasn’t surprised. That’s what I been working for all camp. All summer, grinding. So when the plays fall into the place that they are supposed to happen, it’s really not a surprise to me.”
Although it is worth mentioning that Week 1 is the sweet spot to catch opposing defenses lacking with “secret weapons”. However, that’s dead moving forward. Teams will have the chance to study Cohen’s effectiveness versus the Falcons and come up with ways to stop him that if successful, other teams will surely adapt.
But Cohen told The Bigs he’ll counter that with his “one percent rule”.
“I like to go by the one percent rule.Try to get one percent better everyday. I’m not satisfied with what I just put out on the field so I’m gonna try to get better and do more to help this team.”
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