Bears believe they’ve re-established finishers persona


Bears believe they’ve re-established finishers persona

Back when the Bears were turning their season at least partway around with wins over Oakland and Kansas City, the Bears took pride in developing a self-image as fighters who’d shaken off the fatalism of the recent past and believed they could win games late.

Then came the disappointments in the losses to Detroit and Minnesota, where fourth-quarter leads were lost late, defeats that now are the difference between being 3-5 and 5-3 and in true playoff contention.

With the road win at San Diego, in which the Bears delivered game-winning plays within the final minutes on both offense and defense, as well as stops on special teams, the sense of identity has been restored in the minds of players who still believe they can reach the postseason.

[MORE: Bears see MNF win as 'starting point' for playoff run]

“I think it was something we built toward the whole weekend, finally put it together as a team and were able to close one out,” said linebacker Lamarr Houston, whose two sacks of Philip Rivers in the last 2 minutes combined to put the Chargers in third- and fourth-and-23 situations. “I think that we just learned how to finish right now and I think it’s something that we’re going to keep on aiming for every week and keep on making sure we pay attention to detail so we can get better.”

 The Bears scored twice in the fourth quarter for the fourth time this season. They are 3-1 in those games, 2-1 when they score two touchdowns in the fourth quarter as they did in San Diego and Kansas City, losing in Detroit.

One of the foundation principles of the 2015 team has been the buy-in of players into what a veteran, proven coaching staff under John Fox is teaching, both in terms of technique/scheme as well as mindset.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!

 “Well, Foxy always tells us ‘don’t flinch,’ ‘don’t blink,’” said tackle Kyle Long. “Things are going to happen, that’s the nature of the game. It’s not going to be all uphill or downhill for us. It’s going to be: You’re going to have some tough spots throughout the game and you need to be able to survive the body blows and keep working.”

Bears backfield ranked fourth-best in NFL

Bears backfield ranked fourth-best in NFL

The Chicago Bears have a really good problem in their backfield. Both Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen will demand touches in 2018 and are each starting-quality running backs. Howard is the more traditional first and second-down back while Cohen offers top-tier playmaking ability.

The duo is so talented that they were recently ranked the fourth-best backfield in the NFL.

The Chicago Bears' Jordan Howard has emerged as one of the NFL's top rushers. He finished his rookie season with 1,313 yards, second-most in the NFL. Last season, he rushed for 1,122 yards and 4.1 yards per carry even though Chicago had the league's least threatening passing attack (175.7 yards per game).

Howard isn't the only standout back on the roster, though. Tarik Cohen is a supremely talented runner and receiver and a perfect complement to Howard. Last season, he amassed 370 rushing yards, 53 receptions and 353 receiving yards.

The Bears' backfield was behind only the Rams, Saints and Chiefs.

Howard set Chicago's rookie rushing record with 1,313 yards in 2016 and became the first Bears running back to start his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. He should be the Bears' primary back, but coach Matt Nagy expressed genuine excitement over Cohen's skill set which suggests he plans on getting him the ball quite a bit this season.

Regardless of how the touches play out, the Bears will present opposing defenses with one of the most challenging ground games in the NFL.

    Tarik Cohen was NFL's best big-play RB in 2017

    Tarik Cohen was NFL's best big-play RB in 2017

    Tarik Cohen's rookie season with the Chicago Bears was an impressive blend of running, receiving and special teams play. He quickly became a household name. The combination of his diminutive frame and oversized personality made him a fan favorite, especially when he started gaining yards in chunks.

    In fact, of all running backs with a minimum of 80 carries last season, Cohen had the highest percentage of runs that went for 15 or more yards, according to Pro Football Focus.

    Cohen will have a big role in new coach Matt Nagy's offense this season because of everything he offers a play-caller. He's a weapon as a receiver out of the backfield and can chew up yards on the ground like any traditional running back. He's a hold-your-breath talent who can turn a bad play into a touchdown in the blink of an eye.

    Cohen had 370 rushing yards, 353 receiving yards and three offensive touchdowns in what can be described as a limited role last year. John Fox and Dowell Loggains didn't seem to ever figure out how to best use Cohen's skill set. That should be no issue for Nagy and Mark Helfrich, the team's new offensive coordinator, who both bring a creative offensive approach to Chicago.

    Jordan Howard will be the starter and will do most of the heavy lifting. But Cohen is going to have a much bigger role than he had as a rookie, and that should result in more big plays and points on the board.