Chalk Talk

Chalk Talk: What is plan at running back?

Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.

What are the Bears’ plans at running back? Can Tarik Cohen carry the load? Are they looking to get someone in the draft?
@Nickstwofive via Twitter

It’s difficult to project at this point what the specific roles in the backfield will be this coming season, especially because many NFL analysts believe that the Bears could further bolster the running back position in the draft. What we do know is that coach Matt Nagy likes to rotate his running backs and create mismatches with the defense, and he likes versatile backs who can line up all over the field and excel both as ballcarriers and receivers. This isn’t the type of offense where one back is going to get 20-25 carries a game. So at this point I would say that both Mike Davis and Tarik Cohen will get a decent number of touches in various situations and that could also expand to include a rookie sharing the workload if the Bears do indeed select one in the draft. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Davis and Cohen on the field together in some instances because both can line up in the slot or split out wide, run routes and catch the ball.

With the addition of Chuck Pagano, do you feel confident that he’ll be able to replicate last season’s success on defense?
@Sluggos773 via Twitter

Even though I anticipate a smooth transition at defensive coordinator from Vic Fangio to Chuck Pagano, it will be difficult for the defense to exactly replicate its sterling performance from 2018 when the unit led the NFL in points per game (17.7), takeaways (36), interceptions (27), interception return touchdowns (5), opponent passer rating (72.9) and rushing yards per game (80.0). With that being said, Pagano is an experienced and accomplished coach and the Bears are returning 10 of 11 starters, including four Pro Bowlers in Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller, so I do expect them to excel once again in 2019.

I saw that Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was assigned jersey No. 21. Who have been the best players to wear that number in Bears history?
Ross P.
Chicago

The best player who has worn No. 21 with the Bears would have to be Hall of Fame guard Danny Fortmann, a ninth-round pick in the first NFL Draft in 1936. Fortmann was named All-NFL in six of his eight seasons and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1965. Other notable No. 21s with the Bears have been Cecil Turner (1968-73), Leslie Frazier (1981-85), R.W. McQuarters (2000-04), Corey Graham (2007-11) and Major Wright (2012-13). Rashied Davis wore No. 21 in 2005 before switching to No. 81 when he moved from cornerback to receiver in his second season. Interestingly, legendary Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton was initially issued No. 21 before switching to No. 34 prior to his first game.

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