Jordan Howard recently fired off a few cheeky rounds at his former team. While it wasn’t exactly Fort Sumter — or even close to Zach Brown’s firestorm — it was a not-so-subtle jab at the Bears and their offense.
Howard spent three years in Chicago and piled up 3,370 yards on 770 carries while serving as the team’s bell cow. But his touches were starting to decline with the emergence of the versatile Tarik Cohen, so the Bears shipped him off to the Eagles in exchange for a conditional sixth rounder in 2020. Howard’s former team seemed to think the bruising back was one-dimensional, strictly a north-south runner instead of a pass-catching threat, and Howard took exception to that classification. He has only 72 career catches for 568 yards.
“I feel like they’re allowing me to do more, show my game off more instead of just being one-dimensional like Chicago had me,” Howard told Inquirer.com. “I thought it was going to be similar to Chicago, but [Philadelphia’s offense] is a lot more diverse. We do a lot more than Chicago does. So I’d definitely say it’s a lot different.”
One of the things that have stuck out about Howard early on at OTAs is his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield. It wasn’t his calling card in Chicago, maybe more by design than choice. Howard has defined his running style as “rugged” and “physical,” a trait not likely to change and one that attracted the Eagles to him in the first place.
What’s that old saying? Oh right, boom goes the dynamite!
This year, Howard has vowed to be a factor in the passing game and that begins by fixing a problem with dropping the football that dates back to high school. The Eagles rely on a ton of screens and short throws to get their offense cranking and moving the chains. It’s been their hallmark since Andy Reid was in charge and Duce Staley (now assistant head coach with the Birds) was the primary back. If Howard can be half as effective as Staley, then watch out.
Or, as Howard said: “It’s going to be hard to stop us.”
Considering all the firepower the Eagles boast on offense, it’s hard to argue with him. It’s going to be a week-to-week puzzle figuring how to get all their weapons — guys like Howard, Miles Sanders, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert, DeSean Jackson — all involved. Then again, it’s a pretty good problem to have for offensive coordinator Mike Groh.
“Like you said, there is one ball. I think they understand that,” Groh told reporters. “Maybe it’s not unique, but one of the things that makes it a lot of fun to come to work every day is really all these guys want to do is win.”