In other circumstances, Chicago Bears running back Jordan would have a lot to complain about.
He’s suffering through a statistically (and significantly) disappointing season, as his yards per attempt, rushes per game, and total yardage are all down. Indeed, through 11 games this season, Howard is on pace for only 780 rushing yards and seven touchdowns – not quite what he or anyone else envisioned entering the year (Michael: As someone who drafted him at the end of the second round in fantasy football … YOU’RE TELLING ME).
But instead of complaining about declining personal numbers, Howard is basking in the glow of a winning atmosphere for the first time in his professional career:
Jordan Howard has been assured by Matt Nagy he will have a key role in the offense. As for the reduced workload as the Bears are 8-3, Howard said: "Winning offsets everything. … As long as we're winning, there's nothing really to complain about. Winning keeps me happy."
— Chris Emma (@CEmma670) November 27, 2018
Ahhh, the high road. It’s full of perspective and beautiful scenery.
For real, though: this is a refreshingly mature take from a player who was the workhorse of the Bears’ offense in his first two years in the league. And I would have totally understood if, instead of this high road, Howard expressed displeasure at his situation – especially as he begins to eye a potential extension. But instead of being a distraction, he’s being a great teammate. It seems the winning environment in Chicago is muting any negative thoughts and keeping Howard a happy camper.
But just because he’s happy and the Bears are winning doesn’t mean we don’t have questions. The Bears still need to figure something out with Howard and the running game, because he doesn’t seem to be reaching his full potential in this offense – that’s not inherently a bad thing, of course (winning is still the most important thing), but you don’t want to waste a great asset like Howard either, right? So what’s up?
Well, maybe Head Coach Matt Nagy has been so laser-focused on fixing what had been a poor passing game that he hasn’t been able to make the necessary tweaks to the rushing attack just yet. To that end, maybe this’ll be an area of improvement going forward. If not that, maybe Nagy and the offensive staff are simply waiting for just the right time to deploy Howard strategically.
In fact, I sorta love the idea of Howard icing down late-season wins and catching future defenses off guard. Committing to Howard in the winter months, when it becomes increasingly difficult to throw the football successfully, seems like a sound strategy. And it’s not as if Howard hasn’t had his moments where you thought to yourself “he’s almost back!” while watching him run. It’s just that it hasn’t happened consistently just yet. But because we’ve seen Howard do it in the past, we’re going to continue to hold out hope that he can do it again in the near future.
HOWEVER and OF COURSE the Bears shouldn’t ditch what’s working on offense for the sake of balance their attack or getting a guy numbers that look better in the box score. Winning is still king.
That Howard has been assured he’ll be a key cog in the offense moving forward intrigues me. That would be disingenuous, an insult to fans (and players) who care more about winning than numbers, and maybe most importantly – an affront to Head Coach Matt Nagy, the guy who has “BE YOU” in big, bold letters on his play card.