Much has been made of Jordan Howard's struggles as a receiver through his first two seasons in the NFL. Despite securing 72 percent of his targets in 2017, his drops came at the worst possible time. Most notably, Howard dropped a potential game-winning pass with 12 seconds left against the Falcons in Week 1 last year.
Howard must prove this season that he can be a three-down back for coach Matt Nagy if he's to have any chance at posting numbers similar to what Kareem Hunt did with the Chiefs in 2017. Hunt ran for 1,327 yards (the most in the NFL) and added 455 yards as a receiver. He caught 53 of his 63 targets.
In order to become more consistent as a receiver Howard first has to fix his technique (hand placement) which, according to the third-year runner, is an issue that dates back to high school.
“It started being a problem in high school, just not having my hands in the right position,” Howard said via 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.”
Howard has no choice but to fix it. He's too important to the offense to be limited by a deficient pass-catching skill set.
Like anything else, the more he works on catching passes and the more Chicago emphasizes to Howard how productive he can be if cleans up that part of his game, the more likely he'll become one of the league's better all-around backs. Furthermore, if Howard establishes himself as a receiver, defenses won't be able to assume a running play is coming every time he's on the field.
And that will make Nagy a very, very happy play caller.