Jordan Howard entered the 2017 season with a ton of promise and potential.
He was going to be Chicago’s featured back in an offense where his powerful style of running could set up quarterback Mike Glennon to throw against a defense geared toward containing a potent running game.
But not only has that not happened, Howard hasn’t even been around to explain what’s going on with the Bears offense. Head coach John Fox said he wasn’t aware of Howard’s postgame media silence during his Monday press conference, but said he expected Howard to meet with the assembled media at Halas Hall later in the afternoon. And sure enough he did.
Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic tweets Howard’s need for medical treatment after the game has kept him from speaking to the media. “I’ve been hurt after games,” explained Howard while meeting with the media. “I’ve been getting treatments and X-rays.”
At least Howard was able to share some good news regarding his injuries:
Jordan Howard: "My shoulder, I’m good. I’m good."
— JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) September 18, 2017
Remember, Howard was a late addition to the Week 2 injury report and was listed as a limited participant with a shoulder injury that stemmed from an awkward landing during his Week 1 touchdown. Howard added that there were no ulterior motives behind his silence. And while that’s good news, dealing with the kinds of treatments and X-rays that would keep him away from a postgame media obligation make you wonder if his injuries are a bigger deal than previously reported.
In any case, the injuries didn’t keep Howard from starting in Week 2, but the second-year back rushed just nine times for seven yards to bring his season totals to 59 yards on 22 attempts. Howard’s 2.7 yards per carry is a far cry from the 5.2 yards he averaged as a rookie (en route to 1,313 rushing yards and a Pro Bowl appearance), but he says that he’s still searching for a rhythm and believes he (and the team) can get back to what made for a successful ground attack in 2016.
The only thing more concerning than Howard’s dip in production was the decline in snaps from Week 1 to Week 2. Howard played 31 snaps against the Buccaneers after playing 38 in the season opener against the Falcons. And more than 65 percent of the reps Howard has taken have come on passing plays. Of the 69 offensive snaps Howard has been a part of this year, 45 have come on passes and just 24 on runs. The Bears aren’t going to run often when trailing by 20 points, but 60.5 percent of Howard’s snaps in Week 1 – a game decided by just six points – came on passing plays.
Changing gears, Howard had plenty of encouraging things to say about fellow running back Tarik Cohen and how his presence on the field could help Howard’s performance.
Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains opened Sunday’s loss against the Buccaneers with a hand-off to Howard that featured a fake jet sweep to Cohen. Howard believes the speedy rookie could play a role in loosening up the defense for Howard’s between-the-tackles running style.
“When he’s on the field, they’ll be paying attention to him,” Howard said of opposing defenses. “That can open up things for me as well.”
Howard says he knows what Cohen is capable of after watching him in training camp and in practices, hinting there could still be more of the fourth-round rookie the public has yet to see.
“I already knew what he can do,” Howard said. “Everybody else just doesn’t know.”