Bears

Bears add power on RB depth chart with Indiana’s Jordan Howard in Round 5

Bears add power on RB depth chart with Indiana’s Jordan Howard in Round 5

Running back, one of the foundation pillars of Chicago Bears football, was in some turmoil this offseason. First was the exit of Matt Forte. Then was the failed pursuit of Denver’s C.J. Anderson, a statement that while the Bears were pleased with the futures of Ka’Deem Carey and Jeremy Langford, those two were not necessarily the future of the offense, particularly in situations calling for raw power.

Accordingly, the Bears went big in the fifth round, using the 150th pick of the draft on Indiana running back Jordan Howard, a 230-pound force who averaged more than 123 yards from scrimmage in his combined 32 collegiate games at UAB and Indiana.

At 230 pounds, Howard eschews subtle.

“I feel like I’m a grinder,” Howard said. “I can get those tough yards and in the NFL. You don’t really see those long, explosive runs like you see in college. There are a few, but not many, so I feel my game suits the NFL more than it does college.”

It also appears to suit the Bears, who have struggled too often over the past several years in short-yardage and goal-line situations.

Howard, however, may need to tweak his game just a bit.

Big running backs like Earl Campbell, Larry Csonka and Christian Okoye have had success spikes but not always sustained at those peak levels. The reason: Big backs deliver big hits but they also take more of them, and hits take their toll. John Riggins (240 pounds) extended his Hall of Fame career using speed that away from tacklers rather than taking all of them on.

Howard has a smash-mouth mindset but NFL tacklers will be substantial tiers above what he ran into at Indiana. And he missed time last year with knee and ankle injuries that limited him to nine games, in addition to averaging 216 carries per season for his three college years.

Still, “I feel like my size will benefit me well because a lot of time guys they won’t want to tackle me a lot of times, especially after long games when we’ve just been pounding,” Howard said. “They then start diving and then I can avoid them. I think it works very well for me.”

(Hard to see Aaron Donald, Luke Kuechly, Julius Peppers and J.J. Watt “diving,” but you never know.)

Howard will not be doing a lot of diving himself. He carries a decided chip on his shoulder after getting just one scholarship offer (UAB) coming out of high school, then having UAB drop football while he was there.

"Yeah definitely some pride because coming out of high school I had one offer to play at UAB in Conference USA, so I definitely wanted to prove I could play on a bigger stage," he said. "And I was doing it for UAB because they shut the program down. I wore my heart on my sleeve for them."

Bears takeaways from NFL’s week 3 – end of “Fitzmagic?” Leading NFCN without a leading QB, and Dowell Loggains

Bears takeaways from NFL’s week 3 – end of “Fitzmagic?” Leading NFCN without a leading QB, and Dowell Loggains

After he threw three interceptions in the first half of the Tampa Bay-Pittsburgh game on MNF, Ryan Fitzmagic has reverted to just plain Ryan Fitzpatrick. The result is that the Bears likely should expect to see Jameis Winston at quarterback when the Buccaneers show up in Soldier Field next Sunday.
 
This would not necessarily be good news for the Bears, even with Winston starting this season with a three-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal-conduct policy.
 
Last-place finishes in the standings by the Bears and Bucs have had Winston facing the Bears each of his three NFL seasons, all three in Raymond James Stadium. After the Bears escaped with a victory in Winston’s rookie (2015) season, the Buccaneers outscored the Bears by a combined 65-17 in Winston’s last two meetings with them.
 
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Needing deeper thoughts
 
No surprise really, but the Bears are leading the NFC North with the lowest-rated quarterback in the division:
 
No.   Player                         Rating
 
8       Aaron Rodgers         104.5
12     Kirk Cousins             98.8
23     Matthew Stafford      83.4
25     Mitch Trubisky          77.8
 
Trubisky does rank ahead of rookies Josh Allen of Buffalo and the Jets’ Sam Darnold but he does stand 26th in yards per attempt at a very underwhelming 5.68
 
But Trubisky and the offense produced produced only six plays of 12 yards or longer at Green Bay and six against Seattle. Against the Cardinals, the Bears had nine, but those included three on runs, by Tarik Cohen (21 and 17 yards) and Jordan Howard (17), plus four short completions with yards after catches.
 
The irony is that the offense is getting a completion rate from Trubisky – 69.2 – that is axiomatic for success with West Coast offenses. But his overall accuracy continues to inconsistent: His completion percentage is its lowest (51.16) in the red zone, and he has established zero deep threat based on accuracy on throws longer than 10 yards.
 
“Those are important to have and we need to start connecting on those,” said coach Matt Nagy. “It's great to take the opportunity of going deep, those are great, but they're way better and they mean a lot more when you connect on them… .
 
“I thought that there were some good ones and I thought there were some he could get better at. That's where we're at. He'll be the first to tell you that. We'll do everything we possibly can each week to make sure we limit those inaccuracies.”
 
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Remember him?
 
Funky stats and factoids aren’t all that difficult to find in the NFL; all the teams that could’ve drafted Tom Brady or Joe Montana, that sort of thing.
 
So isn’t there something at least lightly amusing about the Miami Dolphins, the Bears’ opponent on Oct. 14 coming out of the off week, sitting at 3-0 and sharing the No. 1 spot in the AFC with the Kansas City Chiefs?
 
Behind quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the NFL’s No. 3 passer (121.8 rating)?
 
Under offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains?

Eddie Jackson, Akiem Hicks make Pro Football Focus Team of the Week

Eddie Jackson, Akiem Hicks make Pro Football Focus Team of the Week

The Bears defense did the heavy lifting in their Week 3 win over the Arizona Cardinals, generating a turnover and forcing a quarterback change to keep Mitchell Trubisky and company in the game.

Khalil Mack was a major key to the victory, but the rest of the defense really stepped up too. It was actually Eddie Jackson and Akiem Hicks who were the Bears’ highest-graded starters in the game by Pro Football Focus.

They both made PFF’s Week 3 Team of the Week for their performances.

Technically, Sherrick McManis was PFF’s highest-graded player for Chicago, recording a sack and an interception on only five snaps played.

Mack was right behind Jackson and Hicks to lead the defense, while Jordan Howard was the Bears’ highest-graded offensive player.

On the other end of the spectrum, Mitchell Trubisky was the lowest-graded player on the team. He was the fourth-lowest graded QB in Week 3, ahead of only Tyrod Taylor and both Cardinals quarterbacks.

Matt Nagy will need better from his quarterback down the line, but for now, the Bears have found a way to ride their defense to the top of the NFC North standings.