Chicago Bears: Experts are dead wrong about Jordan Howard

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard was once again rated in the middle of the pack by an expert. The recent rankings are dead wrong.

If you listen to David Kaplan of ESPN 1000 and many media types, you’ll come away with the impression that Jordan Howard is not the running back you want leading your backfield. These days, everyone wants a guy with 4.40 speed and the hands of a wide receiver. The Chicago Bears had that running back for eight seasons in Matt Forte and they won one playoff game.

Jordan Howard was recently rated the 15th-best running back in football by Gregg Rosenthal of Rosenthal says,

"“Howard is in the wrong era, as a traditional gliding power back without great receiving skills. Easy to imagine Howard as a star of the 1970s. It remains to be seen how Howard’s role changes now that John Fox’s 1970s offense has left the building.”"

Howard is a top-10 running back in this league, at the very least. In 2017, Howard played in 16 games, had 1,122 rush yards on 276 attempts for a 4.1 yard average and nine rushing touchdowns.  In 2016, Howard started 13 games and was second in the league with 1,313 rushing yards on 252 attempts for a 5.2 yard average. Only Ezekiel Elliott finished with more rushing yards.

On top of being within the top three in rushing over the last two seasons, Howard has done it against stacked boxes the majority of the time — an area that gets commonly and criminally overlooked by the “experts.”

Here are some more facts:

  • Per Pro Football Focus, in 2016 Jordan Howard led the league in yards between the tackles
  • Per Pro Football Focus, Jordan Howard ranked fifth in most rushing yards gained on runs of 15+ yards in 2017 (but isn’t Howard just a slow, power back?)
  • Per Pro Football Focus, Howard got the yardage needed on 75 percent of 3rd and 4th downs with a yard to go in 2017, which ranked fifth in the NFL
  • While Leveon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott are regularly in trouble with the league, Howard has never missed a game in his career
  • Per Scott Kacsmar of Football Outsiders, The Chicago Bears are 0-21 when Howard has fewer than 20 carries in his career and is the only winless running back since 2016 (min 15 games)
  • Per Pro Football Focus, Jordan Howard ranks third in most yards (1,448) after contact since 2016
  • Jordan Howard is tied for first with Ezekiel Elliott for the most 100-yard rushing games (16) since 2016
  • Per Marcus Mosher, since 2016, only five running backs have had at least 10+ games with at least 20+ carries and Jordan Howard ranks fifth with 10
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Here’s why Rosenthal’s list is awful:

  • Minnesota Vikings’ running back Dalvin Cook is rated 13th and has played a whopping four NFL games in his career
  • Cincinnati Bengals’ running back Joe Mixon is rated 11th and only had 626 rushing yards and averaged 3.5 yards per carry
  • Jacksonville Jaguars’ running back Leonard Fournette is ranked ninth and had less rushing yards than Howard (1,040) and a lower yards per carry (3.9), while both ran for the same amount of touchdowns (nine). Also, Howard only had eight more carries than Fournette.

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I’m also so tired of people saying Howard is the only running back that has some drop issues. Sure, Howard only had 29 catches in 2016, but golden boy Ezekiel Elliott only had 32 catches. In 2017, Howard had 23 catches and had a 71.9 percent catch percentage. That 71.9 percent was better than Melvin Gordon and Elliott. It was also just below Todd Gurley‘s 73.6 percent.

Since everyone obsesses over it, Howard is going to work to get even better.

"“It started being a problem in high school, just not having my hands in the right position,” he said, via Dan Wiederer the Chicago Tribune. “I didn’t work on it that much in college because we didn’t really throw to the backs that much. But I’m going to fix it.”"

Next: Chicago Bears: Is it time to worry about Roquan Smith’s contract situation?

The numbers speak for themselves. Jordan Howard is one of the top running backs in the NFL and it’s not even close. Sine 2016, he is in elite company and will look to continue to prove the haters wrong in 2018.