It seems like everyone is always counting Jordan Howard out. The Bears didn’t think he provided enough shake out of the backfield and sent him packing to Philly. Now the Eagles appear to be souring on their new starting running back.
Despite being listed at No. 1 on the team’s depth chart, there is a report floating around that the Eagles shopped Howard to the Chargers in a casual package to acquire Melvin Gordon. Teams talk all the time about trades, so don’t read too much into it. However, it does sound the alarm — not a five-alarmer, more of a leaving the oven on too long and setting off the smoke detector — that there is room for improvement in the backfield.
Remember, the Eagles also used a second-round pick on Miles Sanders who was mighty impressive in training camp. Many have him pegged as the running back of the future, if not sooner than that. But Howard has been one of the most productive backs in the NFL since 2016.
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Let’s take a quick look at why the fourth-year runner out of Indiana (by way of Alabama) might be the Eagles’ best option, especially over Gordon.
Howard Has Put up Monster Numbers
This is a straight fact. Only two running backs have gained more rushing yards than Jordan Howard since he entered the league in 2016. Who are they? Two pretty big names: Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley. Both of those players got paid mega-bucks for putting up at least 3,000 yards in their first three seasons. Elliott has 4,048 while Gurley has 3,441 and Howard has 3,370. Melvin Gordon ranks fourth on that list, but he trails Howard by 383 yards. Howard’s 24 touchdowns are tied for sixth in that same period.
Howard Has Never Caused Problems
The newest fad in the NFL has been not honoring contracts, with superstar athletes leveraging monster seasons to play the “I outperformed my contract” card. Howard has never done that and he doesn’t appear to conduct business that way. The closest thing to controversy came when he told reporters he thought the Bears’ offense was rather “one-dimensional” compared to the Eagles. They are hardly fighting words. Howard has been a lunch pail kind of player, one who keeps getting labeled as a boring “workhorse.” That’s OK. He’s averaged 4.3 yards per carry for his career, compared to 4.0 for Melvin Gordon.
He’s Motivated in Contract Year
Consider this: everyone has been counting you out and you are in a contract year. Yes, that is the state of affairs for the fourth-year back entering the final season of his rookie deal. Howard was a fifth-round pick, so he’s never had the hype of a first-rounder like Melvin Gordon. And he’s never been apid as such. He’s making $2.025 million this year, peanuts for a legitimate starter. If you don’t think Howard has been looking around at his peers — guys like Ezekiel Elliott, Todd Gurley, LeVeon Bell who are watching Brinks trucks pull up — then you are crazy. This is his one and only chance to prove he’s deserving of the same kind of loot. He’ll be motivated more than anyone in football.
Howard is Two Years Younger than Gordon
The Eagles own one of the most mature rosters in football, second-oldest to the Patriots. Howard isn’t the problem. The former Chicago Bear is only 24 years old — that is two years younger than Melvin Gordon at age 26. Two years — and a lot less tread on his tires. Gordon has carried 897 times in 52 games, plus he’s coming off an injury-riddled 2018 season where he battled lingering knee and hamstring issues. Howard has far less carries — 778 touches in 47 games — and has rarely missed any time despite being one of the most physical runners in the NFL.
Howard Prefers to ‘Be Like Mike’
Anyone that knows Michael Jordan is clearly striving for greatness. There is no backstory about how or when this chance meeting happened, but Jordan Howard posted a viral Instagram picture of him hanging out with Jordan in Monte Carlo, Monaco back in June. The guess is they were gambling, but that’s pure conjecture. Either way, brownie points to Howard for wanting to “Be Like Mike.”