Bears' Jordan Howard vows to 'fix' issue with drops that dates back to high school
Howard is one of the game's best pure runners, but has had an issue with drops
Bears running back Jordan Howard has rushed for the third-most yards since he entered the league as a fifth-round pick back in 2016, but he's not often talked about as one of the game's best running backs due to his inability to contribute as a pass catcher. Drops have blemished an otherwise stellar start to his career. It's an issue he's well aware of as he prepares to operate within
Howard vowed to "fix" the problem, which he said has been an issue since high school.
"It started being a problem in high school, just not having my hands in the right position," he said, per the Chicago Tribune. "I didn't work on it that much in college because we didn't really throw to the backs that much. But I'm going to fix it."
Over the past two seasons, Howard has rushed for 2,435 yards and 15 touchdowns while averaging 4.6 yards per carry (and keep in mind, he did that despite playing in a offense designed for the middle ages), but he's struggled to contribute to the Bears' passing attack, catching 52 passes for 423 yards and one touchdown. According to Pro Football Focus, he's dropped 14 passes.
His inability to bring in passes is somewhat negated by the presence of Tarik Cohen, who is more than capable of catching passes coming out of the backfield, but the Bears probably don't want to get to a point where they have to sub in a different running back for passing plays, which could cue defenses in on the Bears' play-calls. There's no doubt that the dynamic Cohen will be used regardless of Howard's ability to improve as a receiver, but in an ideal world, the Bears would be able to use both Cohen and Howard as runners and pass catchers.
Remember, Nagy comes from Kansas City, where the Chiefs frequently used running back Kareem Hunt as a pass catcher. Nagy's offense values versatility. That doesn't mean Howard won't be used if he can't learn to consistently catch, but his lack of versatility would diminish his value to the offense. If Howard doesn't learn how to catch, he'd still be a good player who is well worth having around, especially considering he's slated to make only $692,005 in 2018. If he does learn how to catch, he'll be considered one of the best backs in all of football. With Nagy around, it wouldn't be entirely far-fetched to see him turn into a Todd Gurley-like player after seeing Sean McVay's impact in Los Angeles.
Nagy has said that Howard will "absolutely" be the team's feature back, but don't be surprised to see Cohen take on a significant role as well considering he's coming off a 723-yard (from scrimmage) rookie year.
"That's the beauty right now of where we're at. We're very strong at that position," Nagy said in April. "To have (Tarik) Cohen there as well. You're seeing all of these teams that are out there right now, they're going with multiple backs.
"To sit here and say a feature back, yeah, he's going to be the guy who lines up and gets the ball. But at the same time, we're crazy if we use [just] one back. That's not going to happen. We're going to use multiple backs."
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