The Chicago Bears have a lot of strong bounce-back candidates entering the 2020 season. Mitch Trubisky immediately comes to mind, as does Khalil Mack, whose streak of double-digit sack seasons ended at four last year.
Perhaps no player needs a bigger bounceback than running back Tarik Cohen, the pass-catching dynamo who was anything but in 2019. Cohen ended the season with a career-high 79 receptions but flipped them into just 456 yards. His 5.8 yards per catch was by far the lowest average of his career and has led to questions about whether he can truly be an offensive weapon in the NFL.
Cohen is in a contract year, so of course, he needs to boost his stock by proving he can flip the field anytime he touches the ball. According to ESPN, he's the most likely candidate to be that bounce-back player for the Bears this season.
After being one of the most dynamic receiving backs in the NFL in 2017 and 2018, Cohen took a big step backward in his third season. Combining 2017 and 2018, he ranked behind only Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara in PFF receiving grade. Last season, however, he ranked 24th of 32 running backs who saw at least 40 targets. He dropped more passes, broke tackles at a lower rate and produced significantly fewer explosive plays. It was completely uncharacteristic based on what we saw from him in his first two years in the NFL, so it would be a surprise not to see him bounce back in some capacity in 2020.
The Bears are set up for Cohen to succeed in 2020. Only David Montgomery is slotted ahead of him on the running back depth chart, and Montgomery's skill set doesn't really conflict with the role Cohen plays anyway. In fact, Chicago could use Cohen and Montgomery at the same time, with Cohen lining up in the slot and playing more receiver than running back.
Regardless of how he's used, the expectations for Cohen to have a statistical resurgence are fair. His 2018 season, when he ran for 444 yards and added 725 more through the air (with eight total touchdowns), is more in-line with what we should see from him in 2020.
Here's who ESPN thinks will be the Bears' bounce-back player in 2020 originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago