A Jordan Howard trade is something that has been discussed by Chicago Bears fans for months ever since the rumors began earlier this year. The belief at the time was that he wasn’t the greatest fit for the more pass-heavy scheme implemented by Matt Nagy and might not be the same sort of factor he was the past two years. People thought that was crazy. He’d be better than ever before because of fewer stacked boxes.
Well, that second part is true at least. This year Howard has faced a box with eight defenders or more 13.48% of the time. Last season? It was 43.12%. Don’t forget he ran for over 1,000 yards in spite that. So for him to have just 612 yards in 12 games and averaging 3.4 yards per carry? That’s unsettling.
To be fair his blocking hasn’t bee great. Of his 612 yards, 496 has come after contact. This speaks to the offensive line not doing a good enough job. Even so, Howard’s at fault too. His vision and decisiveness haven’t been there at times. He doesn’t seem comfortable in Nagy’s system. Precisely what people warned would be the case months ago.
Then there’s another development that only adds fuel to the fire.
Why Taquan Mizzell experiment increases Jordan Howard trade odds
One of the most puzzling things that has happened the past two weeks is how much more action running back Taquan Mizzell has been getting on offense. Keep in mind he had not taken a regular season snap in his NFL career prior to the Buffalo game. Since then his role has steadily increased. Over the past two games, he has eight touches on offense and six on special teams.
Tarik Cohen: 42
Jordan Howard: 34
Taquan Mizzell: 14
— PFF CHI Bears (@PFF_Bears) December 3, 2018
It’s hard for people to figure out what Nagy’s fascination is with him. In reality, it’s not so much the fascination with the player, but with the skill set. Mizzell can do things that Howard simply can’t. He can run with legitimate speed and has the hands to catch passes. Nagy loves using his running backs as receivers out of the backfield. Just look at what he’s done with Tarik Cohen lately for an idea.
In his mind, having two backs who can do that is more lethal offensively than just one. Howard, for all his running prowess, is not a natural receiver. While he’s improved his pass catching by most accounts, he doesn’t have the speed or quickness to get open down the field. It’s this weakness that may prove fatal to his future in Chicago.
Throw in a looming contract issue and a pressing need for draft picks (the Bears have only five in 2019) and that makes the odds of a trade this coming offseason high.