Jordan Howard must expand his game to fit into Bears offense

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears have done a lot to help Mitch Trubisky this offseason, it’s time for Jordan Howard to expand his game to help his young quarterback.

When the Chicago Bears made the decision to hire Matt Nagy as their head coach it was clear the offense would start to gravitate towards throwing the football. If Jordan Howard wants to thrive under Nagy’s tutelage, he’s going to have to become a more complete running back.

Rushing the football hasn’t been a problem for Howard during his two seasons in the NFL. Getting consecutive 1,000-yard seasons from a fifth-round draft pick is excellent value no matter how you slice it. There’s no question he can make things happen when his number is called.

What is up in the air is whether or not Howard can become a proficient pass catcher. It’s no secret that Nagy and the Bears have done everything they can to provide Mitch Trubisky with the weapons required to succeed. The likes of Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller will be counted on to stretch the field vertically. That still leaves the Bears offense in need of a receiver who can operate as Trubisky’s safety valve.

That’s not a skill Howard has really demonstrated in his young career. He only caught the ball 23 times for 125 yards last season. Nagy’s offensive scheme will require him to drastically increase both of those totals in 2018.

The shift to a more passing-oriented attack even caused some people to question whether or not Howard would keep his prominent role in the offense this season. The former Hawkeyes running back seems pretty convinced he’s still “the main guy” in the Bears backfield.

What that means exactly is still very much up in the air. Nagy told reporters it would likely be a game-by-game decision as to whether or not the Bears offense really needs a dominant rusher. By the sound of it, Nagy will go with the best pass-catching running back against certain opponents.

That means Howard needs to work on his receiving skills if he still wants to be the most utilized back in Chicago. If he can become a threat in the passing game he could emerge as one of the most productive backs in the NFL. If he can’t, he may be angling for a move out of Chicago prior to the trade deadline.

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