If Jordan Howard was less than enthusiastic about how he was used in Week 4, we’d understand.
Normally, you’d have to guess, a 48-10 Bears win would have resulted in plenty of clock-chewing by pounding Howard on the ground in the second half. But as it turns out, he was out-carried by teammate Tarik Cohen 13-11. So, yeah, it’d be natural if Howard was irked. But if he was irked, he sure is doing a bang-up job of not showing it publicly.
“I wasn’t frustrated,” Howard told reporters on Monday at Halas Hall, via Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune. “I was happy. We won. You see how much we won by. So there’s really nothing to complain about.”
The biggest surprise in the Bears’ steamrolling of the Buccaneers was that Howard didn’t play as much of a role as we would have liked or expected. And it would be only natural for a back with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons under his belt to be miffed by his touches getting cut. HOWEVER, Head Coach Matt Nagy made it clear that Howard still has a role in this offense – even if it won’t run through him as it did in previous years. Sometimes, the matchups are just the matchups.
Thinking broadly … If Chicago is even close to a deploying a “running back by committee” approach this season (I do not think we’re there yet, it’s just a hypothetical), it’s important to remember that it’s not necessarily a bad thing, there’s still room for both Howard and Cohen to thrive, and the Bears record is the only thing that truly matters.
And, again: it’s not like four weeks into the first season under a new head coach and offensive scheme is enough time to properly figure out how to best use two talented backs, so we should probably prepare ourselves for weeks where either Howard or Cohen might appear to be phased out. But we should also keep in mind the time will come where Howard will need to carry a bulk of the load, just as there will be a point where Cohen will be the guy who gets a bulk of the action. It’s up to Nagy to strike a balance between the two and use the opposing defense’s strengths as a guide. If you ask me, this seems like a pretty good problem to have – especially as both Cohen and Howard have been happy to put the team first.
Indeed, based on snap share, Howard doesn’t have much of a leg to stand on if he were to complain about his role anyway. Howard has played on 65.3 percent of the offense’s snaps, while Cohen has been on the field for just 39.9 percent. It’s just that in the most recent game, Howard was out-touched and out-performed by Cohen. Sometimes that happens over the course of a 16-game season. In short, there isn’t much else Howard can say or do in this situation, so taking the high road is a wise (and mature) move. And in the meantime, hopefully playing the matchups continues to work out for the Bears.