You’ve heard the expression “Actions speak louder than words,” right? Of course you have. You’re a human being on planet Earth. But when it comes to the Bears’ running game, Head Coach Matt Nagy’s words sure seem to say a lot.
Indeed, Jordan Howard’s future in the Bears backfield is in a very weird place right now. And to see what I mean, first consider how Nagy spoke about Mike Davis, the free agent running back who was targeted by the Bears and signed early in free agency:
“I liked his vision. I thought he had really good vision. He was a guy that can make you miss between the tackles. He has that in him. We liked that. We thought that would be a good addition to our side of the ball on offense. We’re intrigued to get him in and start learning who he is as a person. From all the research we did on him, we thought it was a great fit. … He’s an athlete. And as long as you’re an athlete, you can make it work.”
For starters, everything Nagy said about Davis has left me even more encouraged about the deal than when the it originally went down. Davis arrives Chicago as a relative unknown to fans who weren’t following his work in San Francisco or Seattle, but you should brush up on him by checking out our Getting to Know post.
After diving through highlight packages and sorting through some of the metrics, it’s clear where Davis sits as a rotation back who can be a multi-purpose threat out of the backfield. At minimum, his presence in the backfield should be an upgrade from what Taquan Mizzell and Benny Cunningham provided last season.
But what does any of that say about Howard, whose time with the Bears appears to be running out?
Well, when asked if Howard has a role in the team’s running back rotation, Nagy confirmed that, in fact, Howard does have a role. Had he stopped there, this post would have read differently. Instead, Nagy continued and discussed trade rumors (remember those?) that have been hovering over Howard this offseason.
“I know there’s stuff floating out there in regards to trade rumors that are out there. We’re always going to – with all of our guys – if there’s rumors out there or there are people talking, Ryan’s always going to see where we’re at. And if it’s something that we think is going to make our team better, we’ll entertain it. So for us, the running back position right now is something that we think we’re in a good spot.”
Alright, so Howard has a role on the Bears. Unless he is no longer on the Bears. Thanks for straightening that out for us, Coach!
Instead of discarding the rumors as the team did when they surfaced last April, Nagy entertains them and explains how GM Ryan Pace could use Howard as trade bait that could make the team better. Honesty and transparency are refreshing, but they also paint a picture of uncertainty regarding Howard’s future with the team. At a minimum, Nagy has certainly come a long way since praising Howard as a three-down back last July.
Should the Bears trade Howard elsewhere, it would position them to choosing a running back in next month’s NFL Draft. Chicago has been connected to all sorts of running backs throughout the pre-draft process. If you’re a believer in the idiom that where there is smoke, there is fire, then you would probably want to bet on the Bears selecting a running back at some point during their weekend in Nashville.
You can watch Nagy’s hour-long press conference where he discusses creating a kicking competition, his love for the other free agents the Bears signed, and more: