Tarik Cohen only played one of the Bears’ final four offensive plays — which came from the Atlanta Falcons’ five-yard line — on Sunday because, according to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, he wasn’t “ready to handle the burden of everything right now.”
Whether or not you buy that reasoning is a separate question, given Cohen’s game-changing impact when he was on the field in his NFL debut. But at the goal line, the Bears were out of timeouts and probably needed their running back to be able to identify if the Falcons were blitzing and pass protect if they were. It’s worth noting that Loggains said of Benny Cunningham, who’s skilled in pass protection and left the game with an ankle sprain: “We missed him as the game went on that way.”
The most important point, though: While the Bears clearly have a lot of trust in Cohen, they don't think he's entirely “there” yet.
“I feel like I'm a quick learner, and once I do learn something I feel like I'll always have it,” Cohen said. “So all the stuff I've learned up to this far has been a load, but I feel like I've got it down pretty well, so just adding on a couple things wouldn't hurt.”
The Bears will have to find a way to put more on Cohen’s plate, though, given he showed against Atlanta he’s the team’s best playmaker. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have film on Cohen now, meaning the Bears probably can’t use him in exactly the same way they did against the Falcons — though Cohen’s shiftiness and quickness are a counter to defenses being prepared for him.
Cohen already has taken snaps at quarterback, running back and slot receiver, and is the team's punt returner, too. But there's more from him in the Bears offense, and Loggians is confident Cohen can handle what’s next.
“He's a smart kid,” Loggains said. “The greatest asset the kid has, outside the physical skills, is he might be our hardest practice player. Works his tail off, loves football. It's important to him. He's a playmaker. The Bucs have seen the tape and they're obviously going to be aware of where he's at and I'm sure they're going to work really hard to take him away.”