In only two seasons, Jordan Howard is the 14th leading rusher in Chicago Bears history. If he manages to have an average 2018 (1,218 rushing yards), he’ll shoot all the way up to sixth overall. As a runner, his 4.6 average yards per carry is better than every running back ahead of him on the yards list that isn’t named Gale Sayers. His 78.5 rushing yards per game is bested only by Walter Payton. Howard is on an historic pace with the Bears, but he needs to improve one aspect of his game.
If he can’t become a reliable pass catcher in the new Matt Nagy offense his opportunities may decline, and his time in Chicago may be short.
Don’t get me wrong, his talent will ensure that he has plenty of carries, but improving his hands would make him an even bigger threat in Chicago’s modern offense.
According to FOXSports.com, which tracks drops, Howard had five drops last year, and seven in 2016 as a rookie. In 2018 he had 23 catches for 125 yards, on 32 targets. In 2016 he was targeted 50 times, making 29 receptions for 298 yards. His catching percentage improved from 58% to 71.9%.
For a little perspective, the other two tailbacks on the Bears’ roster last year, Benny Cunningham and Tarik Cohen, combined for 97 targets and they had one drop between them.
Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun Times recently caught up with a number of the Bears’ position coaches, including running backs coach Charles London.
“That’s one area that both Jordan and I identified when I got here, that he wanted to get better at,” London said via the Sun Times. “And he’s put in the work.” Jahns reported that Howard has been spending time before, during, and after practice working on his catching.
I’ve always thought some of Howard’s issues were concentration, and the more reps he gets, the closer to muscle-memory catching the ball becomes.
More from the Chicago Sun Times.
“We’re working on hand placement … just his focus and concentration, hand-eye coordination and things like that,” said London, who is Howard’s third position coach in as many seasons.
Overall, London said there are “a lot of factors” to address.
“How he needs to position himself. How he needs to have his hands to catch the ball,” London said. “And I think he’s getting a better understanding of that. I’ve seen progress.”
Make sure you check out Jahns’ full article. He has stuff from QB coach Dave Ragone on Mitchell Trubisky, wide receivers coach Mike Furrey on Taylor Gabriel, tight ends coach Kevin Gilbride on Trey Burton, and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand on Kyle Long.