Bears

Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen set to become Bears' thunder and lightning

Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen set to become Bears' thunder and lightning

Jordan Howard is the Chicago Bears starting running back. There's little debate about that. But there's also little debate about the game-changing talent of Tarik Cohen, the smaller yet electrifying change-of-pace option.

Howard finished 2017 with 1,122 yards and nine touchdowns, a good season by any standard. It was his second-straight year with 1,000 yards, something no other running back in Bears history can say they've done to start a career. Still, there was something special about Cohen every time he touched the ball. He's a touchdown waiting to happen and one of the best offensive weapons on the Bears' roster. 

Cohen finished his rookie season with 370 rushing yards, 353 receiving yards and three total touchdowns. He added 855 yards and a score on kick and punt returns. 

Howard and Cohen have completely different styles. They complement each other well, but it may be Cohen who ends up the preferred option for Matt Nagy.

Cohen proved he can have success on inside running plays last season and was a much better receiver out of the backfield than Howard. In fact, Cohen is something of a smaller version of Kareem Hunt, the running back Nagy coached to the rushing title in 2017.

But can Howard's workmanlike production really be ignored?

Guys like Howard never get the respect they deserve. He's not a flashy running back; he's not going to juke a defender en route to a 65-yard touchdown. Instead, he wears defenders down through a combination of hard yards and chunk plays. It isn't pretty, but it works.

Cohen was the more effective all-around running back in 2017, according to Pro Football Focus. He ranked 29th at the position with a 76.8 grade while Howard was 34th at 73.6. 

Cohen finished in the top-10 among running back receiving grades, too.

Howard and Cohen established last season that they can co-exist. But that was with a different offensive coaching staff calling plays. In Kansas City last season, Nagy called Hunt's number 272 times on the ground. Charcandrick West was second on the team in carries with only 18. 

The Bears are likely headed for a true thunder and lightning situation this year, and that's not a bad thing. Defenses won't be able to prepare for one style of running back and that should give Nagy, who's been praised for his innovative playcalling, a significant advantage on Sundays.

With Howard thundering through would-be tacklers and Cohen electrifying fans in the passing game, the Bears' backfield may quickly become the most feared in the NFL.

It sounds like Jay Cutler is bored in retirement

It sounds like Jay Cutler is bored in retirement

After a week off the air, “Very Cavallari” was back with a new episode, which meant more Jay Cutler in retirement.

This week we were treated to Cutler being as sarcastic as ever and sulking about having nothing to do. Cutler’s first scene involved him and his wife, Kristin Cavallari, talking about their relationship and spending time with each other. Cavallari is going to do another pop-up shop for her fashion store, which means more travel. Jay, your thoughts?

“Oh, great,” Cutler said with his trademark sarcasm.

Later in the conversation we get a bleak look into Jay Cutler post-football.

“I just hang out and clean up,” Cutler said.

Sounds like he may want to hit up the announcing gig he had lined up before coming out of retirement and heading to the Dolphins for the 2017 season.

Next, we got Cutler shopping for birthday presents for their 3-year-old daughter. If nothing else, this was amusing to see Cutler shopping for gifts for little girls.

Watch the video above to see all of the best of Cutty, which also features him designing jewelry for some reason.

Recalling Chet Coppock – snapshots of a character, who also had character

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NBC Sports Chicago

Recalling Chet Coppock – snapshots of a character, who also had character

The news that came out Thursday, that Chet Coppock had died from injuries suffered in an automobile accident earlier this month in Florida, was sad on so many levels. That you didn’t have a chance to say “good-bye,” that you didn’t have a chance to say “thank you,” that you won’t have more of “those” kinds of Chet moments.

But one of my favorite movie moments is at the end of “The Last Samurai” when Tom Cruise, the wounded ex-U.S. soldier who’d fought with the Samurai, is asked by the young Japanese emperor about the death of Ken Watanabe’s Samurai character Katsumoto, “Tell me how he died.” To which Cruise says, “I will tell you, how he lived.”

Somehow that’s the feeling thinking about Chet – little fun snapshots of how he lived.

Snapshots like listening to Coppock on Sports, and appreciating that Chet deserves a spot in the pantheon of those who created a genre.

Like how we in the media laughed imitating Chet’s questions, which routinely went on long enough for you to run out for a sandwich and be back before he was finished. But the chuckle was how Chet wouldn’t directly ask a guest, “So why did you make THAT idiotic play?” No, Chester had this tack of, “So, what would you say to those who would say, ‘You’re an idiot?’” Of course, it would take a minimum of two minutes for him to wend his way through the question, but the results were always worth waiting for.

Like “Your dime, your dance floor.” 

Like grabbing lunches with Chet while I was working on the ’85 Bears book, but in particular while I was writing “100 Greatest Chicago Sports Arguments.” The specific in the latter told me a lot about Chet, far beyond just the information he was sharing.

The “argument” was over who was the greatest Chicago play-by-play broadcaster. Now, Chet of course suggested tongue-in-cheek that he belonged in the discussion; after all, as he pointed out, a high school kid at New Trier games, sitting by himself in the stands, doing play-by-play into a “microphone” that was one of those cardboard rollers from bathroom tissue, oughta be worth something.

Chet’s nomination for the actual No. 1 was Jack Brickhouse, the WGN legend who Chet noted had done play-by for every conceivable sport.

But the reason for Chet’s vote for Brickhouse wasn’t about any of that. It was, Chet said, because Brickhouse beginning back in the mid-‘50s, when the Cubs were integrating with Gene Baker and Ernie Banks, had very intentionally made it clear with his broadcasting and behavior that Baker and Banks were “Cubs,” not “black Cubs.” Brickhouse’s principles had left an impression on a then-young Chet.

I hadn’t known any of that. But Chet did, and that he had taken a lasting impression from what he’d heard growing up said something about Chet as well as Jack. That impressed me, and frankly has always been my favorite Chet story.

So losing an institution like Chet is sad; Chet did say that, no, he wasn’t an institution, but rather that he belonged IN one. But at least he came our way.