Editor’s note: NFL Fan Blitz contributors, Silvia Guevara and Joseph Ricotta, both collaborated on this story.
On March 28, the Chicago Bears made a drastic roster move by trading Jordan Howard to the Philadelphia Eagles for a sixth-round draft pick in 2020. It was a sad day for Bears fans, as Howard was with Chicago for only three years.
Chicago Bears Era
Jordan Howard is 6-feet, 224 pounds and can crush many cornerbacks with his bulky size. He started his NFL career with the Bears but unfortunately, it all came to an end after three short years. With the Bears celebrating #Bears100 this upcoming season, Howard will miss the opportunity to wear the new uniform with 100 in front of it.
Howard came into the league in 2016, and his numbers were impressive his rookie year with Chicago. To have 252 carries as a rookie and rush for 1,313 yards is incredible. Howard played 15 games and started 13. The numbers speak for themselves.
In addition to having impressive rushing yards that year, his touchdowns stats didn’t disappoint the fans or organization. Howard compiled six touchdowns in 2016. The list goes on from there. The awards and honors were impeccable. Howard was named to the 2016 NFL All-Rookie Team with a Pro Bowl appearance his rookie campaign. The accolades continued as he earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors in Week 8.
The end of an era with the Bears
What else can you ask from Howard that he hasn’t done with the Bears? Three short years but he made an impact within the organization and fans. Bear down nation was shocked to hear the news, mainly because of how little the Bears received in return for Howard. A sixth-round draft pick for a guy that was drafted in the fifth round and has been as productive as Howard has been? That hardly seems like fair value, but it might’ve been the best deal the Bears could get.
Howard finished off his career with the Bears rushing for a total of 3,370 yards in three seasons. He has been the definition of an elite athlete, one of the top running backs, and a great teammate.
From the Eagles’ perspective, a trade with the Bears made all the sense in the world. Now they have a somewhat bona fide bruiser to soak up the bulk of their carries. Howard isn’t the most fleet of foot, but he’s powerful and stable. He can read blocks well enough and has the patience to find open holes and pick up yardage. He’s especially good in short-yardage situations.
The offense that Doug Pederson runs is similar to what the Bears and Nagy run. It’s easy to look at this trade and think Howard will have the same minimal success with the Eagles in 2019 as he did with the Bears in 2018. He averaged a career-low 3.7 yards per carry in 2018, Nagy’s first year at the helm. However, in the final five games of the season, the weather in Chicago grew colder and Howard averaged 4.5 yards per carry.
Philadelphia ranked 29th in the NFL in 2018, with 94.6 rushing yards per game, a huge difference from 2017 when they ranked third in rushing yards per game with 130.8. That was the biggest drop off in production from 2017 to 2018 of any team in the league. Their run to the Super Bowl and eventual win of the title featured a three-man mix of Corey Clement, Jay Ajayi, and LeGarrette Blount. Howard represents more of the Blount style running back the Eagles missed in 2018.
They also missed Ajayi for the most part, because of injury.
This is a low risk, high reward move by the Eagles. Howard will be highly motivated heading into the final year of his contract. The Eagles just drafted Miles Sanders, who many think will be a terrific every down back at the pro level. He has great instincts and can be a good receiving back as well. Doug Pederson will likely use Howard as much as he can to preserve his new young running back, Sanders who figures to be a mainstay in Philadelphia for years to come.
All of a sudden, this Eagles’ running back corps looks very solid and has a potentially dominant one-two punch with Howard and Sanders.