Jordan Howard is on the move.
Following months of trade speculation surrounding the 24-year-old running back, the Bears have traded Howard to the Eagles for a 2020 sixth round draft pick. Conditions of the trade can change the pick to a fifth round selection, however.
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What can Philadelphia expect from Howard, though?
1. Howard is part of an exclusive company since joining the league in 2016
Only three NFL players have accounted for at least 250 touches and 1,000 yards from scrimmage in each of the last three seasons. The first two are somewhat obvious in Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott and Rams running back Todd Gurley. The third, though, is none other than Jordan Howard.
Jordan Howard is 1 of 3 players with at least 250 touches and 1,000 yards from scrimmage in each of the last 3 seasons.
The others are Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley. https://t.co/0lf5jr4D2j— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 29, 2019
Elliott (No. 4 pick in 2016) and Gurley (No. 10 pick in 2015) entered the NFL with more pedigree than Howard, the No. 150 pick in 2016. And while he has not been much of a threat in the passing game (72 career receptions for 568 yards and one touchdown), Howard has been a workhorse for the Bears' rushing attack.
His season-by-season totals:
- 2016: 252 attempts, 1,313 yards, 5.2 avg.
- 2017: 276 attempts, 1,122 yards, 4.1 avg.
- 2018: 250 attempts, 935 yards, 3.7 avg.
2. Howard's 2018 stat line isn't entirely his fault
Howard fit less in Matt Nagy's offensive scheme than that of former Bears head coach John Fox
Questions regarding how Howard fit in Nagy's scheme surrounded him for much of 2018. In fact, NBC Sports Chicago's John Mullin reported that the Bears discussed a potential trade involving Howard and then-Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry.
Nagy's pass-heavy West Coast offense did not necessarily hurt Howard's overall rushing attempts, but his production certainly suffered. Not only did his yards per carry drop to 3.7, but his rushing attempts/game dropped from 17.3 in 2017 to 15.6 in 2018.
Howard's average yards before contact fell dramatically as well. From Pro Football Focus:
Jordan Howard was one of the running backs helped the least by his offensive line in 2018@danieltkelley explains: https://t.co/aVj5vWVDf9 #Bears pic.twitter.com/stfPNOMYxc— PFF CHI Bears (@PFF_Bears) February 24, 2019
Essentially, while Howard's yards after contact remained steady, the Bears' offensive line was not helping him as much as it did in 2016 and 2017. Blame does not belong solely on the offensive line, as Howard forced fewer missed tackles in 2018 than he did in 2016 or 2017.
Howard rushed for 100-plus yards seven times in 2016, five times in 2017 and just two times in 2018. With the Bears' pass-heavy offense in full-force, the writing was on the wall regarding Howard's future with the Bears.
3. Howard finds the end zone often
Not only does Howard eat up yards, but he finds the end zone consistently. Since 2017, only Gurley (30) and Saints running back Alvin Kamara (22) have more rushing touchdowns than Howard's 18.
Kamara has more overall rushing touchdowns since 2017. However, only Gurley and Howard have rushed for nine or more touchdowns in that span.
Jordan Howard is one of only two @NFL RBs with 9+ rushing TDs in each of the last two seasons, joining Todd Gurley.
His 18 rushing TDs since 2017 are tied for the 3rd-most in the @NFL, behind Gurley (30) and Alvin Kamara (22).#FlyEaglesFly— John Gonoude (@john_gonoude) March 29, 2019
Eagles running backs combined for just 12 rushing touchdowns in 2018, so Howard should bring some stability to the group.
It's worth nothing that Howard is set to hit free agency following the 2019 season. For just a sixth/fifth round pick, though, taking a flyer on one of the most consistent backs in the NFL is a worthwhile investment for Doug Pederson and the Eagles.
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