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.
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.
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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