Did the Bears make a mistake trading Jordan Howard to the Eagles?


When Jordan Howard was a rookie with the Bears in 2016, he trailed only Ezekiel Elliott for the NFL's leading rusher with a franchise rookie record 1,313 yards. He followed that season with another productive year -- 1,122 yards -- and became the first Bear to begin his career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.

Then came 2018, coach Matt Nagy's first year on the job, and Howard's production and overall role regressed. He had career lows across the board (carries, yards and yards per carry) and finished under the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the first time as a pro. The writing was on the wall: Howard's time as a Bear was over.

General manager Ryan Pace traded Howard to the Eagles for a conditional sixth-round pick, a deal that seemed like pennies on the dollar at the time. Now, after Howard's fantastic start in Philadelphia, it seems like an even bigger undersell.

“Sometimes, I think -- maybe he didn’t fit their structure of what [Bears coach Matt Nagy] was trying to do -- but I don’t really want to comment or speculate on that,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Wednesday. “I just know we got a great player. And we’ve benefited from that [trade] obviously.”

Howard is back to his usual productive self in 2019. After beginning the year as a backup to rookie Miles Sanders, Howard has taken over as the lead back amassing 443 yards and five touchdowns (4.4 yards per carry) through eight games. His best game of the season came against a familiar foe; he had 87 rushing yards and three total touchdowns against the Packers in Week 4.

“I know that when we got him, we were excited to get him and get him into our mix," Pederson said.

Meanwhile, the Bears have struggled to create any semblance of a running game prior to Week 8's explosion by rookie David Montgomery against the Chargers. Montgomery was crowned as the player who would provide an upgrade over Howard in Chicago's running game, but he's fallen short of those expectations so far.

Montgomery ran for 135 yards and a touchdown against Los Angeles, but his season totals still trail Howard's in all major categories. He has less yards (366), touchdowns (3) and yards per carry (3.7). It's true that Montgomery's struggles aren't his alone -- the playcalling and offensive line haven't helped him -- but it could also be a product of his inexperience. 

Howard was never an exciting runner; he plodded and plowed his way for positive yards with the occasional burst beyond the second level. But he was productive and reliable, two traits the Bears could desperately use right now.

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