There’s no downside to Eagles’ trade for Jordan Howard

There’s no downside to Eagles’ trade for Jordan Howard

Ever since the Eagles acquired Jordan Howard I’ve been reading that Howard isn’t that good. That his stats his first couple years were the product of John Fox’s archaic run-first system. That his rushing average has dropped every year. That he’s no Ezekiel Elliott or Saquon Barkley.

Guess what?

Who cares.

The Eagles didn’t need a superstar running back. They didn’t need an elite running back. What they did need was another weapon. Another piece of the puzzle. Another guy who can make some plays and make this offense better.

And if you can get a 24-year-old kid who’s averaged 1,100 rushing yards and eight TDs in three NFL seasons for a late-round pick and a couple million bucks? There is no downside.

Unless you think the Eagles would be more difficult to defend with Josh Adams or Wendell Smallwood on the field than with Jordan Howard, there’s nothing not to like here.

It’s not about piling up all-pro players. It’s about building an offense that nobody can stop.

And if you’re a defensive coordinator preparing for the Eagles in 2019, you’re dealing with a quarterback who was the MVP front-runner for three months of 2017, one of the best tight ends in the game and a darn good backup, a trio of dangerous receivers and now a capable move-the-chains tailback.

I don’t have to remind anybody that the Eagles won a Super Bowl with a running back corps cobbled together with an aging veteran with just enough left to be dangerous, a mid-year acquisition and an undrafted rookie.

The Eagles haven’t even had anybody rush for 800 yards in five years, and they probably won’t this year. They’ve been to six NFC Championship Games since 2000 and had a 1,000-yard rusher one of those years — that was Duce Staley, their current running backs coach, who barely went over in 2002.

They had an elite running back for six years in LeSean McCoy and went 0-3 in the postseason with him in uniform.

It’s about building an offense, building a unit, and that takes a group of like-minded pros who are willing to sacrifice a little bit in terms of stats for a chance to win big.

That’s the template the Eagles have settled on, and it’s a winning formula.

That’s why this is such a good fit.

The Bears relied so heavily on Howard the last few years. He averaged 17 carries per game since the start of his rookie year in 2016, the third-highest figure in the league.

And if you look at their quarterbacks, you can see why.

Mitch Trubisky, Matt Barkley, Brian Hoyer, Jay Cutler, Mike Glennon and Chase Daniel.

Especially in 2016 and 2017, Howard carried the load because he had to carry the load for two Bears teams that went 8-24.


Now the pressure is off. Howard doesn’t have to be The Guy. He doesn’t have to be anything except another component of a potentially explosive offense.

And if you’re scared off by the fact that his rushing average has dropped from 5.2 as a rookie to 4.1 in 2017 to 3.7 last year, I would tell you this:

The last five weeks of the 2018 regular season, when the Bears went 4-1 and roared to the NFC North title and a No. 3 playoff seed, Howard averaged 4.5 yards per carry, with 100-yard games against the Vikings and Rams.

Shot fighter? Doesn’t look that way.

Two predictions:

1. Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott will rush for more yards in 2019 than Jordan Howard.

2. The Eagles will win more games in 2019 than the Giants and Cowboys.

Howard might not be a superstar, and he might not be a Pro Bowler, and he probably won’t rush for 1,000 yards.

He’s not flashy. He’s not an accomplished receiver. He’s never had a touchdown longer than 21 yards.

These are all facts.

But here’s another fact: The Eagles are a better team today than they were yesterday.

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Watch Eagles cheerleader Kyle Tanguay crush his American Idol audition

Watch Eagles cheerleader Kyle Tanguay crush his American Idol audition

Rookie Eagles cheerleader Kyle Tanguay captured Philly fans' collective hearts this past season with his energy and excitement at the Linc. It was an instant connection. 

Over the weekend, he did the same thing with American Idol's judges.

Tanguay, 21, zipped down to Washington, D.C., to audition for the rebooted singing competition after his first year with the Birds' cheerleading squad, looking to broaden his performance horizons after the warm reception he received in 2019.

The Eagles' cheerleading squad showed out in a big way for Tanguay's audition in front of Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan, including performing a quick custom "Kyle" cheer after flooding the audition room.

Ultimately, though, Tanguay wasn't going to get a free trip through the contest if he couldn't sing.

His clip on Sunday night's show showed: he can really, really sing.

That's a no-joke performance from someone who had never sung in public.

Tanguay talked with NBC Sports Philadelphia's Brooke Destra earlier this month about the audition:

It was the most craziest experience ever and it really allowed me to remind myself that it’s okay to step outside your comfort zone. The experience on the show was so awesome, so exciting and it’s something that I cannot wait for the world to see.

Tanguay keeps the hits coming. Auditions continue through mid-March, and then we head to Hollywood, where Tanguay will probably win even more fans.

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Doug Pederson explains why he no longer has an offensive coordinator

Doug Pederson explains why he no longer has an offensive coordinator

As Doug Pederson enters Year 5 as Eagles head coach, there’s a notable change to the structure of his coaching staff. 

He doesn’t have an offensive coordinator. And now we have a reason why. 

Earlier this offseason, Pederson fired offensive coordinator Mike Groh a day after he said Groh was safe and then shook up the structure of his coaching staff, electing to move forward sans an official OC. 

As the NFL world gets ready to take over Indianapolis this week for the annual NFL Scouting Combine, Pederson spoke the the Eagles Insider Podcast and finally explained his decision. 

It’s a great question because it’s a question I have really pondered about for quite some time, really for many years. You look around the league and there are teams who don’t have coordinators. There are teams that have coordinators. I’ve had a coordinator by title. I look at the structure of what we’re doing offensively and how collaborative we put our game plans together. It’s like players; it’s not about one guy. Same way on the coaching staff. It’s not about one coach who has to do everything. It’s a collaborative effort. 

“Bottom line, I’m the one calling plays on game day. So in some facets, you could consider me the offensive coordinator as well. The more I thought about it, I’m like, just again, I’m really excited about Press (Taylor). I think he’s got a bright future. Giving him the title of passing game coordinator, really again, gives him the opportunity to give more thought and input on our game plans. Having Rich (Scangarello) being as a senior offensive assistant, he can assist and help sort of bridge the gap with [Jeff Stoutland] and Press and putting all the pieces together, along with myself and Justin Peele and Duce Staley. Just bringing our game plans together. That’s what I want. That’s my vision for this season and really having a seamless transition that way. 

“When we win, we win as a team. Again, it’s not about one guy getting the credit. I feel like this is the best structure for us, for me as the play caller. Because there’s times when I get pulled in a lot of different directions and I gotta lean on Press. And I’m going to have to lean on Rich and Jeff Stoutland and the guys to really pull the game plans together and really give me the information that I need as we prepare for games.” 

While Pederson — and really everyone inside the NovaCare Complex — has always stressed a collaborative effort in all football manners, he didn’t really give any specifics about how the workload will be split and how Groh’s former responsibilities will be divided up in the new power structure. 

Hopefully, we’ll get some of those answers in Indianapolis this week. 

As a reminder, he’s an updated look at the new structure of the Eagles’ offensive coaching staff. 

Head coach/play caller: Doug Pederson

Quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator: Press Taylor 

Offensive line coach/run game coordinator: Jeff Stoutland 

Senior offensive assistant: Rich Scangarello 

Running backs coach/assistant head coach: Duce Staley 

Tight ends coach: Justin Peele 

Wide receivers coach: Aaron Moorehead 

Pass game analyst: Andrew Breiner 

It’s not unheard of for an NFL coach with a clear focus on one side of the ball — like Pederson on offense — to not have an official coordinator. But this is just the first time he has elected to have this setup. 

The optics weren’t great a month and a half ago when Pederson gave Groh a vote of confidence only to fire him a day later, but on the podcast claimed he was still going through his evaluation process at the time. 

At the time, one obvious theory was that Pederson wanted to keep Groh and the front office overruled him. But that’s a theory that has been shot down multiple times by the Eagles. And Pederson on this podcast said that he listened to input from his bosses but, ultimately, the coaching staff is up to him. 

“The coaching staff is my responsibility,” he said. “I’m the one that hires them and I’m obviously the one that has to do the dirty work and sometimes let coaches go. That’s my responsibility.”

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