Jordan Howard Needs More Carries, But Is This the Right Matchup For It?

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Jordan Howard Needs More Carries, But Is This the Right Matchup For It?

Chicago Bears

If you remember back to Week 1 (I know, I know it’s painful), you’ll recall that Jordan Howard had a very strong opening night performance. So strong, in fact, it left many wondering why he didn’t get more late-game carries when he was AVERAGING 5.5 YARDS PER POP, but I digress.

Entering Week 2, then, we figured Howard was destined to get some more touches, especially because Seattle’s defense was missing its two best starting linebackers. Unfortunately, Howard was stymied and limited to just 68 scrimmage yards all night. It was another head-scratcher for fans like us, who want to see Howard utilized more, or at least to his potential, to the extent it fits into the broader, long-term offensive strategy cultivated by Matt Nagy.

So … what’s in line for Week 3? Well, you’d like to think getting Howard the ball more often is a no-brainer against a win-less Cardinals team. But opposing rushers are averaging just 3.6 yards per attempt against Arizona’s defense, which puts that group among the 10 best run-stuffers in the NFL. The Bears should want to get Howard more touches – and we want the Bears to get Howard more touches – but they shouldn’t do it just for the sake of running the football. That seems like a reactionary move and an easy way to get beat. But the broader point remains.

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Head Coach Matt Nagy hinted at Howard getting more carries moving forward. And browsing through some history, that seems like an easy call to make. Howard’s 14.5 rush attempts per game this season is down from the 17.3 attempts/game he posted last season. And if you’re wondering if this is just a Nagy thing, it’s not. It’s been just two games, but Howard’s early-season average is a far cry from the 21.8 carries per game Kareem Hunt averaged when Nagy took over the play calling duties in Kansas City late last year. These numbers are all less than ideal, especially since the Bears would probably be wise to better utilize their bell-cow back while quarterback Mitch Trubisky works out the kinks in his game.

The biggest speed bump, I suppose, could be when Howard gets his carries. Chicago has rushed the ball just 16 times in the fourth quarter, with Howard getting just 10 attempts (though he has averaged a respectable 4.4 yards per carry). If the Bears jump out to another lead and are holding on late, calling on Howard to carry the team to a win by prolonging drives and moving the chains seems like the right call. Of course, the Bears will have to get to that point first.

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.