From Comcast SportsNetORLANDO, Florida(AP) --Tiger Woods' swing coach says criticism of his client is getting out of hand."I know everyone has a job to do, and I get it," Foley said this week on "Fairways of Life," a radio show hosted by Matt Adams on XM Sirius. "But if it is about the game of golf, Tiger Woods is an extremely important part of the game, and I think everyone understands that. It has just gotten to the point where the tearing down of Tiger as a person and a golfer has become just too much. I think it is just out of hand."Woods has been under more scrutiny than any other golfer since he turned pro in 1996 when he was 20 and won twice in seven starts on the PGA Tour. The criticism has sharpened in the two years since Woods was exposed for extramarital affairs that cost him his marriage and impeccable image.He tied for 40th at the Masters, yet most of the attention was on how Woods kicked his golf club after missing a tee shot on the 16th hole of the second round. He said the next day, "I'm frustrated at times and I apologize if I offended anybody that that."Foley began working with Woods at the 2010 PGA Championship, and Woods has shown signs of getting back toward the top of his game. He won the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill last month for his first PGA Tour win since the scandal in his personal life unfolded the night of Thanksgiving 2009.Foley has gone through his share of criticism, too, especially in the early stages of Woods learning a new swing."I realize it is 2012 and we have dotcoms, and you have to write five articles a day, and you run out of things to write about," Foley said. "But we should be in a position where we are trying to help and lift up and support a player like Tiger Woods instead of tearing him down, because everyone in the golf industry is better off because of his existence."Foley's comments came at the end of a 20-minute interview, and he raised the issue without prompting."That is basically one thing I want to get out," Foley said. "Tiger is a wonderful person, and he is a good dude, and he lives a complex life. I think things have got to slow down, and it has got to stop, the daily referendums and the criticism."Woods' performance in the Masters has kept him in conversations, however. It was his highest finish in a major as a pro -- except for the three times he has missed the cut -- and kicking his 9-iron became a lasting image of his week at Augusta National.A few days after the Masters, former Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger said on Sirius XM Mad Dog Radio that Woods' antics were an "embarrassment to the game, to the membership at Augusta." The comments were startling because Azinger has long been a supporter of Woods."I was really disappointed to see him carry on that way," Azinger said. "He's not trying to endear himself to anybody. And after he won Bay Hill, I thought, Here we go again, this is going to be Tiger just kicking butt and taking names.' I don't know. I thought he acted like the south end of a northbound mule."Jack Nicklaus was asked Tuesday about Woods' game and said he didn't know what was going on."I don't know what goes (on) between his ears," Nicklaus said. "That's really the X factor. His golf game and his golf swing looks pretty similar to what I've been looking at and he hits a lot of great shots. But you never know what's going on in somebody's head."
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John Fox on Friday sought to clarify some comments he made earlier in the week about Tarik Cohen that seemed to follow some spurious logic. Here’s what Fox said on Wednesday when asked if he’d like to see Cohen be more involved in the offensive game plan:
“You’re looking at one game,” Fox said, referencing Cohen only playing 13 of 60 snaps against the Green Bay Packers. “Sometimes the defense dictates who gets the ball. I think from a running standpoint it was a game where we didn’t run the ball very effectively. I think we only ran it 17 times. I believe Jordan Howard, being the fifth leading rusher in the league, probably commanded most of that. I think he had 15 carries.
“It’s a situation where we’d like to get him more touches, but it just didn’t materialize that well on that day. But I’d remind people that he’s pretty high up there in both punt returns, he’s our leading receiver with 29 catches, so it’s not like we don’t know who he is.”
There were some clear holes to poke in that line of reasoning, since the question wasn’t about Cohen’s touches, but his snap count. Cohen creates matchup problems when he’s on the field for opposing defenses, who can be caught having to double-team him (thus leaving a player uncovered, i.e. Kendall Wright) or matching up a linebacker against him (a positive for the Bears). The ball doesn’t have to be thrown Cohen’s way for his impact to be made, especially if he’s on the field at the same time as Howard.
“They don’t know who’s getting the ball, really, and they don’t know how to defend it properly,” Howard said. “… It definitely can dictate matchups.”
There are certain scenarios in which the Bears don’t feel comfortable having Cohen on the field, like in third-and-long and two-minute drills, where Benny Cunningham’s veteran experience and pass protection skills are valued. It may be harder to create a mismatch or draw a double team with Cohen against a nickel package. It's easier to justify leaving a 5-foot-6 running back on the sidelines in those situations.
But if the Bears need Cohen to be their best playmaker, as offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said last month, they need to find a way for him to be on the field more than a shade over one in every five plays. As Fox explained it on Friday, though, it’s more about finding the right spots for Cohen, not allowing opposing defenses to dictate when he’s on the field.
“We have Tarik Cohen out there, we're talking about touches, not play time, we're talking about touches so if they double or triple cover him odds are the ball is not going to him, in fact we'd probably prefer it didn’t,” Fox said. “So what I meant by dictating where the ball goes, that's more related to touches than it is play time. I just want to make sure I clarify that. So it's not so much that they dictate personnel to you. Now if it's in a nickel defense they have a certain package they run that may create a bad matchup for you, that might dictate what personnel group you have out there not just as it relates to Tarik Cohen but to your offense in general. You don't want to create a bad matchup for your own team. I hope that makes sense.”
There’s another wrinkle here, though, that should be addressed: Loggains said this week that defenses rarely stick to the tendencies they show on film when Cohen is on the field. That’s not only a problem for Cohen, but it’s a problem for Mitchell Trubisky, who hasn’t always had success against defensive looks he hasn’t seen on film before. And if the Bears are trying to minimize the curveballs Trubisky sees, not having Cohen on the field for a high volume of plays would be one way to solve that.
This is also where the Bears’ lack of offensive weapons factors in. Darren Sproles, who Cohen will inexorably be linked to, didn’t play much as a rookie — but that was on a San Diego Chargers team that had LaDanian Tomlinson, Keenan McCardell and Antonio Gates putting up big numbers. There were other options on that team; the Bears have a productive Howard and a possibly-emerging Dontrelle Inman, but not much else.
So as long as Cohen receives only a handful of snaps on a team with a paucity of playmakers, this will continue to be a topic of discussion. Though if you’re looking more at the future of the franchise instead of the short-term payoffs, that we’re having a discussion about a fourth-round pick not being used enough is a good thing.