Bears rookie running back Jordan Howard might want to be careful what he gets himself into.
Howard was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday after netting 202 total yards in the Bears’ win over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday. He rushed for 153 yards and caught four passes for another 49, with highlights including a 69-yard run on the Bears’ third play of the game and a two-yard touchdown run.
“(The honor) feels pretty good,” Howard said on Tuesday. “They’re giving me all this individual attention, but I definitely didn’t do it alone so I feel like I had help with this. So I really don’t feel like I deserve all this praise by myself.”
The offensive line typically gathers for dinner each Thursday, and it’s open to running backs. So maybe Howard says thanks by picking up the check for the next one?
“I’ll definitely do something like that,” Howard said.
Since the tab for that event commonly goes up into the four-figures, the kid might want to maybe start with just dessert, given that he’s still on his rookie contract. Just a thought.
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With three 100-yard games in the past five, Howard has moved from No. 3 on the depth chart to the obvious top spot. In the process he has allowed the Bears to tilt toward the run-based offense that John Fox and coordinator Dowell Loggains have professed to want.
Some of Howard's work has stemmed from the ankle injury that sidelined Jeremy Langford for several weeks before Monday.
“We were bringing Jeremy back,” Fox said. “He hadn’t had a lot of time, had been away from it. Ka’Deem (Carey) was pretty much the backup for that game, and Jeremy slipped in in some situational roles.
“But we pretty much knew Jordan was going to be the bell cow for last night.”
And presumably for the foreseeable future. Because Howard’s big games fit a pattern the Bears want. The offense was 45 percent run in the Bears’ two wins this season.
In the win over Detroit, with Howard carrying 23 times for 111 yards, the offense ran 38 run plays compared to 29 pass plays (including kneel-downs). The following week at Indianapolis, the distribution was more pass, but Howard ran for 118 yards and added 45 on three pass receptions. The Bears in fact took a fourth-quarter lead over the Colts on a short drop-off pass that Howard turned into a 21-yard touchdown. Howard and Carey produced four receptions and 60 yards, and the Bears had their biggest scoring output (23 points) of the season with running backs getting 21 combined touches.
In the Minnesota game the Bears ran the football 29 times and called 32 pass plays.
“I definitely didn’t think they were going to lean on me that often,” Howard admitted. “But I guess I started with the hot hand, and they just stuck with me.”