Coming off of their bye week, the Chicago Bears are preparing to take on the Miami Dolphins this Sunday. Before their bye, the offense put up 48 points on the mediocre Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defense.
The Bucs had a hard time against Cohen, who can do a little bit of everything coming out of the backfield. There were reports that Howard was upset with his usage. That was confirmed after he declined to talk to reporters after the game.
Head coach Matt Nagy also mentioned something on Monday that suggested Howard didn’t love the way he was being utilized. Last Sunday’s game wasn’t the first time Cohen out-snapped Howard either, and it won’t be the last.
With just 203 rushing yards and one touchdown through four games, Howard is well behind his pace from both 2016 and 2017. That team was coached by a man who was scared to do much of anything on offense besides run the ball in between the tackles.
Howard was also the Bears only real weapon on offense at the time. Things have changed in a big way, clearly. Nagy’s gameplan is going to change week-to-week, even quarter-to-quarter, and that’s a good thing. Teams should make adjustments in the middle of games.
The greatest coach in NFL history, Bill Bellicheck never commits to one player or gameplan and look how that’s turned out. Sure, fantasy owners find it impossible to figure out the Patriots’ backfield, but from a coaching perspective, it’s the best thing to do.
Again, game-flow contributes to this as well. If the Bears are up, it’s likely that Howard will get the ball more and vice versa.
On Tuesday, John Clayton mentioned that the Philadelphia Eagles, who just lost Jay Ajayi for the season, could potentially trade for Howard.
Clayton also mentions Chicago RB Jordan Howard as a sleeper to keep an eye on for the #Eagles.
— SPORTSRADIO 94WIP (@SportsRadioWIP) October 9, 2018
This did catch many people by surprise, but should it have? In April, there were rumors of the Bears shopping Howard on the open market as well. The argument was that Howard wasn’t as versatile as Cohen and there were plenty of veteran RBs on the market the Bears could use in short-yardage situations.
Nothing materialized and Nagy claimed Howard was a feature back. It’s simple – Howard wasn’t a featured against the Bucs, but he’s still a big part of the offense going forward, at least for this season.
I’ve seen a lot of back and forth on Twitter, so I wanted to try and clear some things up. So, let’s start with the most obvious question:
Should the Bears Trade Jordan Howard?
This is a trick question.
Now, if the Bears were offered a second-round pick, then you think about doing that deal. However, Howard, being an RB, is probably worth a mid-round pick at this point. Even a third would not be enough for me or the Bears to send him away in the middle of the season.
With that being said, I do expect the Bears to test the market for Howard this offseason. Howard probably won’t be on the team after his rookie deal…that’s the life of an RB in the NFL.
The Bears should and probably will draft another RB in 2019. Ideally, one with a bit more versatility than Howard. If they trade Howard in the offseason, there are also plenty of veteran free agent RBs that could be signed to handle goalline and short-yardage situations.
In fact, let’s look at the last two Super Bowl winners: the Eagles and Patriots. Both had a three-back system. The Eagles last year with LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi, and Corey Clement. The Patriots had James White, Dion Lewis, and Blount in 2016.
There’s a trend here people. In today’s NFL, it’s best to have as many weapons as possible. Yes, there are exceptions like Todd Gurley, Melvin Gordon, and Le’Veon Bell, but Howard isn’t that and never will be.
He’s a nice player that is best when running the ball between the tackles. He does deserve credit for becoming a better pass catcher, but he’s never going to be an RB that catches the football 10 plus times a game.
So to answer that question, no, you don’t trade Howard now, but this offseason anything goes. Getting back a third or even fourth round pick would be huge for the Bears, especially after the Khalil Mack trade.
The Bears could keep Howard passed this season, which is fine. He’s a solid player. It’s foolish to believe he’s not expendable though, especially after team’s like the Patriots, Eagles, Falcons, and Saints use more than one RB.
Nagy never should plan on using Howard as the featured back unless the Bears are up in the game or winding down the clock in the fourth quarter. Instead, it is best to utilize more than one back in an offense.
Last Sunday, it was Cohen. This week, it could be Howard. The point is it’s hard to understand Howard’s frustration after winning a game by nearly 40 points. He did deny the reports, but at this point, it’s easy to see what’s true and what’s not.
“I wasn’t frustrated,” Howard said. “I was happy. We won. You see how much we won by. So there’s really nothing to complain about…With a game like that, you don’t have anything to complain about. You’ve just gotta be happy about a win.”
Don’t expect the Bears to move Howard during the 2018 season. However, don’t rule them out moving him this offseason.
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