The Chicago Bears have #firstplaceproblems.
They went into the bye week with a 3-1 record and emerge from it still in first place, preparing to face a reeling Miami Dolphins team that has just lost back-to-back games. And yet, a running back controversy lurks. Just don’t tell Head Coach Matt Nagy, who still sees Howard as an integral part of the offense.
“Jordan understands what we’re trying to do as a team. He also understands, and we’ve talked, that he has a major part in this offense … a big-time role,” Nagy explained during his Monday press conference. “But if it’s an advantage to us to go a different direction for that game, that play, or that series, we’re going to do that. As long as our guys understand that, we’ll be in good shape. Jordan’s good with that, he understands it. It’s just one of those games he wasn’t a featured guy.”
It sounds like the first-year head coach has to deal with the challenge of finding a balance in keeping his team hitting on all cylinders while keeping a star player involved, engaged, and happy within the team construct.
Howard (33 snaps in Week 4) and Tarik Cohen (29 snaps) shared a pretty even snap share in Week 4, but Cohen produced more in his opportunities. Cohen gained 174 scrimmage yards as he gained 53 yards on 13 carries and added 121 yards on seven receptions. On the other end of the spectrum, Howard gained just 25 yards on 11 carries and was targeted just once in the passing game. That Howard did not meet with the media after the team’s Week 4 win only adds to the intrigue here, even if Nagy tried to nip it by saying he has talked to Howard and that Howard understands his role.
Unfortunately for Howard, that role could be diminishing as the Bears move away from using a feature back and instead playing the matchup game to the team’s advantage: “Everybody in this offense has a role,” Nagy said on Monday. “This is not going to be an offense where it’s just one person and it goes through one person. I don’t necessarily believe in that. I think it’s great when you have everybody fulfilling different roles and it’s hard for the defense when you do that.”
So, to summarize: Howard still figures to play a big role, but it’s one that might not be as prevalent as before.
You can check out Nagy’s full press conference below:
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) October 8, 2018