MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — Every Bears season has a theme, and it sounds like they’ll head into 2020 with a humbler, more blue-collar attitude than when they strutted into training camp last summer talking about the Super Bowl and the beginning of a dynasty.
Several Bears are in South Florida for Super Bowl week, but only as spectators or pitchmen.
Running back Tarik Cohen led that chorus when he rolled into Bourbonnais but regrets it now after the Bears stumbled to an 8-8 record and missed the playoffs.
“There was a lot of talk surrounding us about the Super Bowl, and that’s not what it’s supposed to be about,” he said. “It’s supposed to be about staying low and hard work, and at the end of the season you’ll be there. Now that we have the noise off of us, it’ll be better for us.”
So it’s back to being gritty underdogs.
Few Bears need that reboot more than Cohen, who is entering the final season of his contract. He went from leading the team with 1,169 yards from scrimmage in 2018 to managing just 669 yards this season. His yards per touch dropped from 6.9 to 4.7.
Cohen was hardly the only problem for an offense that finished 29th in yards and points. Rediscovering what made him so explosive is critical for coach Matt Nagy. Cohen’s speed makes him the Bears’ most low-risk, high-reward skill player, because he can turn short passes into long gains.
“I had a bad taste in my mouth at the end of the season, and that’s why I’m really ready to get back at it,” he said. “I need to make more plays, way more plays, than I did last year.”
In the meantime, he is making the rounds to hype his favorite three-wheeled roadster, the Polaris Slingshot. He drew a stern look from Nagy after whipping around the Olivet Nazarene University parking lot last summer. And, not surprisingly, Nagy still hasn’t taken Cohen up on his offer to ride along.
“I feel like he just didn’t like the way I brought it in, but I’m not doing donuts no more,” Cohen said. “He wouldn’t let his kids get in with me, either. His wife said that, I think. But I’m a great driver.”