Jordan Howard Giving Eagles What They've Lacked for Years

Jordan Howard doesn't say much. Doesn't make dazzling plays. Isn't going to show up on a lot of highlight shows. He just quietly goes about his business and does his job with no frills.

Play after play.

Now here we are halfway through the season and you take stock and realize ... "Whoa, this guy is a stud."

Howard had his best game in an Eagles uniform Sunday with 96 bruising yards on a season-high 23 carries in the Eagles' win in Buffalo.

Asked after the game if he was tired, he said, "Not as tired as they are."

Howard is a throwback. A simple old-fashioned up-the-middle guy who isn't out there trying to fool anybody or make dazzling cutbacks. He just runs people over and moves the pile.

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And he's been doing that very consistently.

Early in the season, rookie Miles Sanders was getting the bulk of the carries, but since the Packers game, the four-year veteran has been a beast.

First 3 games: 25 carries, 99 yards, 1 TD, 4.0 average
Last 5 games: 75 carries, 344 yards, 5 TDs, 4.6 average

The last Eagles running back with 400 yards and 5 TDs in the first half of a season was LeSean McCoy in 2011.

The Eagles acquired Howard from the Bears this offseason for a conditional 6th-round pick that will almost certainly wind up a 5th-round pick.

His contract is up after this year, and his future is up in the air, but that's an issue for down the line.

Right now, Howard is giving the Eagles consistent production on an team that doesn't have a lot of people giving them consistent production.

"I definitely feel like I'm getting back in my groove, like I was in my first two years," Howard said. "Last year, I didn't have the success I wanted, but I had to put that out of my mind and be a good all-around player."

Howard's numbers dipped last year from 4.6 yards per carry and 1,218 rushing yards his first two seasons to 3.7 and 935 last year.

The Bears unloaded him and drafted David Montgomery in the third round out of Iowa State.  

On Sunday, Howard faces his former team when the Eagles and Bears meet at 1 p.m. at the Linc.

The Bears will see a rejuvenated Jordan Howard, who said the meeting with his former team is "significant" but only because it's the next game on the schedule.

What's more significant is that he's revived his career after a disappointing 2018.

"I just feel like I'm getting into a better grove, breaking more tackles than I did last year, just being better without the ball, blocking," Howard said. 

We all saw his blocking ability on Sanders' 65-yard TD run Sunday.

The only thing missing in Howard's game is big plays. He and Aaron Jones of the Packers are the only running backs among the top 25 rushers in the NFL without a run longer than 20 yards.

It's really actually incredible that Howard is averaging 4.4 yards per carry without a long run.

His first two years, Howard had five runs of at least 50 yards, tied for most in the NFL with Mark Ingram (and one more than Jay Ajayi).

He doesn't have any since.

"Definitely feel like I'm still looking to breaking big runs," he said. "That's one of the reasons I had a lot of yards my first year, I broke a few big runs, so I'm still trying to get to that and just trying to stay consistent week in and week out."

The consistency part is there.

Howard has rushed for 87, 62, 49, 50 and 96 yards the last five weeks and has been at 4.2 or higher in four of those five games.

Think about the Eagles' running game since Chip Kelly exiled McCoy to Buffalo.

They've gone from DeMarco Murray in 2015 to Ryan Mathews in 2016 to the magic tandem of LeGarrette Blount and Ajayi in the 2017 Super Bowl season to Josh Adams and Wendell Smallwood last year.

Of that group, only Smallwood is even on a roster right now.

As Sanders continues improving, the Eagles' latest two-headed monster will become even more effective.

Sanders has been a big-play machine. He's fifth in the NFL in offensive plays of at least 25 yards - behind only Stefon Diggs, Cooper Kupp, Courtland Sutton and D.J. Chark.

But while Sanders is an explosive highlight reel, Howard quietly gets the job done in a very different way. One thundering run after another.

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