Bears

Bears' Jordan Howard is 'nowhere near what he’s going to be'

Bears' Jordan Howard is 'nowhere near what he’s going to be'

Stan Drayton knows some things about running backs. At one time the all-time leading rusher in Division III history, Drayton also was assistant head coach and running backs coach under Urban Meyer at Ohio State, where he coached Carlos Hyde to 1,521 rushing yards in 2013, then followed with Ezekiel Elliott netting 1,878 the next year.
 
From there he went to become Bears running backs coach, where this year he had the lead role in guiding rookie Jordan Howard to a franchise-rookie-record 1,313 yards.
 
As good as Howard's season was – culminating with being named to the NFL Pro Bowl, replacing Arizona's David Johnson – it is only the beginning.
 
"He's nowhere near what he's going to be in this league," said Drayton, now associate head coach and run game coordinator with the University of Texas. "Nowhere."
 
Howard said Wednesday that Drayton had told him during this season that Howard has a chance to be one of the best backs in the league for a long time. The reasons are both physical and emotional, Drayton told CSNChicago.com.
 
Howard was a healthy scratch in the opener at Houston, the only player in uniform besides backup quarterback Brian Hoyer not to see a single snap in the game. Howard said it discouraged him at first, but also motivated him, and that was what Drayton saw. 
 
"It was burning in him to play [at Houston]," Drayton said, "but he wasn't going to be disruptive. He just worked harder, and I think it all ultimately took its proper course."

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Drayton saw mindset from the beginning of their time. Howard, a fifth-round pick out of Indiana, was motivated by where he was finally drafted, but focused away from the disappointment.
 
"He just has that quiet confidence in himself," Drayton said. "From day one he just let down all of his guards and let himself be coached. He just had such a drive to get better, and there was no resistance at all."
 
Howard may not have elite pure speed. But he tied for third in runs of 20 yards or longer (10) and third in rushing first downs (70)
 
"He has the ability to get to the second level at full speed," Drayton said. "It's not about top-end speed with Jordan. He's a big back and he hits like a big back. He's perfect for that [Bears] zone-blocking scheme. He is decisive and has an amazing sense of timing.
 
"And he's going to just keep getting better."

AP writers vote Matt Nagy for 2018's best coaching job

AP writers vote Matt Nagy for 2018's best coaching job

It may only be Week 15, but Matt Nagy's already winning awards. 

Earlier today, Nagy was chosen as "having done the NFL’s best coaching job in 2018 in voting released Friday by a panel of 10 football writers for The Associated Press." 

AP football writer Howard Fendrich explained the decision, saying,″(Nagy’s) overseen a total turnaround of the Bears in just his first year as an NFL head coach, taking a team that hadn’t finished above .500 since 2012 and turning them into the best of the NFC North. He’s an offensive guru who learned from former boss Andy Reid, and Chicago’s play calling has been creative and fun — and overcome limitations at the QB spot to be good enough to let a superb defense lead the way.”

Nagy's led the Bears to a 9-4 record in his first year as head coach, with a chance to win the division if the Bears can beat the Packers this weekend. 

Nagy came in ahead of Pete Carroll, who finished in 2nd place. Andy Reid, Nagy's mentor in Kansas City, rounded out the top 3. 

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Lack of flags another reason why the Bears’ defense is the NFL’s best

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USA Today Sports Images

Lack of flags another reason why the Bears’ defense is the NFL’s best

A thought here after watching Thursday night’s Chargers-Chiefs tilt, which featured eight flags for either defensive pass interference or defensive holding...

As the NFL makes it harder for defensive players to play defense (and as TV ratings go up), the Bears are one of the cleanest teams when it comes to their opponents’ passing game. They rank second among teams with only eight combined defensive holding and defensive pass interference penalties: 

1. Dallas (5)
2. Chicago (8)
3. Oakland (10)
4. Tennessee, Los Angeles Chargers (11)
6. Arizona, Indianapolis (12)
8. Carolina, Cleveland, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Houston, Philadelphia (13)
14. Cincinnati, New York Jets, Seattle, Tampa Bay (14)
18. Baltimore, Pittsburgh (15)
20. Los Angeles Rams (16)
21. Buffalo, Minnesota, New England (17)
24. Denver, Detroit, New York Giants, San Francisco (18)
29. Atlanta, Miami (20)
31. New Orleans (23)
32. Kansas City (36)

The Chargers entered Thursday night’s game tied with the Bears with eight holding/pass interference penalties, but where whistled for three during the game — and not all were clear fouls, either. And that kind of stuff can be annoying for defensive players around the league to see. 

“100 percent,” Bears safety Eddie Jackson said. “.. .I’ve seen some things, I’m like come on, man. But there’s some things you can’t control. Control what you can control, and that’s go out there and play ball and to the best of your ability try not to hold or get a flag for pass interference called on you.”

Jackson credited four members of the coaching staff with the Bears’ ability to avoid holding/interference penalties: Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, defensive backs coach Ed Donatell, assistant defensive backs coach Roy Anderson and quality control assistant Sean Desai. From teaching proper technique for being told what to watch out for, this is a well-coached group. Only cornerback Prince Amukamara — who’s usually in press coverage, subjecting him to the most contact — has been whistled for multiple interference or holding flags this year (he actually has half the Bears’ total, with four). 

“It’s a combination of both (coaching and technique) I would say,” coach Matt Nagy said. “The players, technique-wise is a big part of it. You’ve got to be really disciplined in that area. And then I think the other part of it is with the coaching is making sure that they’re watching to make sure to see where they’re at with it. So far, to have that, you want that overall as a team to be the least penalized, specifically in that area, that’s always a good thing.”

Consider it another feather in the cap of the league’s best defense: Even when passing-oriented rule changes and tweaks supposedly make it harder to play defense, the Bears largely haven’t suffered for it. 

“It’s more difficult for the referees, too,” Nagy said. “It’s difficult for them. It’s difficult for the players. There’s some subjectiveness to it. But you gotta try to not be too grabby.”  

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