Bears

Jordan Howard is NFC Offensive Player of the Week after Bears succeed with basic mindset

Jordan Howard is NFC Offensive Player of the Week after Bears succeed with basic mindset

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.”

NFC North standings: Bears fall to last in division with Week 7 loss to Patriots

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NFC North standings: Bears fall to last in division with Week 7 loss to Patriots

The great Ricky Bobby once said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” Talladega Nights hit a little too close to home for the Bears in Week 7.

They came into Sunday at 3-2 at the top of the NFC North. After a 38-31 loss to the New England Patriots, they dropped to the bottom of the division.

The Detroit Lions defeated the Miami Dolphins 32-21 to improve to 3-3, leaving them tied with the Bears in the cellar.

The Minnesota Vikings’ 37-17 victory over the New York Jets jumped them to 4-2-1 overall and first place in the division over the 3-2-1 Green Bay Packers, who were off for their bye week.

The NFC North remains the most tightly contested division in the NFL, the only one with no teams under .500 through seven weeks of the season.

The final standings may not be decided until Week 17, and the Bears have already blown the early season cushion they built for themselves while the Vikings and Packers were struggling.

The divisional action will pick up in November, and Chicago only has a pair of games left to put it all together before back-to-back-to-back games against the Lions, Vikings and Lions again.    

Under Center Podcast: Bears lose 38-31 to the Patriots

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Under Center Podcast: Bears lose 38-31 to the Patriots

Matt Forte, Lance Briggs and Alex Brown join Laurence Holmes to break down the Bears 38-31 loss to the Patriots. What happened to the Bears defense over their bye week, and how did the special teams struggle so bad against New England? Plus – the guys debate Mitchell Trubisky’s decision making in the red zone and Matt weighs in on how the Bears should play his former team – the New York Jets – next week.

0:35– Special teams to blame for loss?

4:12– Where did the Bears pass rush go? 

5:27– Bad tackling followed Bears from Miami

7:25– Are the coaches to blame for the defense after the bye?

10:10– Evaluating Mitchell Trubisky’s game

11:55– Agree with Matt Nagy on Mitch’s “mental” game?

13:30– Trubisky’s red zone decision making

17:10– Are the Bears giving away games so Mitch can learn?

18:00– Bears need to run the ball more

21:04– Matt Forte scouts his former team, the New York Jets

Listen to the full podcast here or in the embedded player below.

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