You can’t keep a grinding, effective back down too long. For his efforts in attaining a season-high 109 yards rushing and two touchdowns against the Vikings last Sunday, the Bears’ Jordan Howard has been named the FedEx Ground Player of the Week for Week 17.
Howard proved to be instrumental in the Bears’ elimination of the Vikings from the playoff hunt, consistently finding holes in the Minnesota defensive front. The 24-year-old started the game with a season-long 42-yard carry, and never looked back. That it came at the expense of the Vikings, the team Howard has enjoyed the most success against in his career, was more than appropriate. It was a vintage performance on the part of the veteran runner, one that bodes well for the Bears as the playoffs kick off this weekend.
It’s been a trying season for Howard on an individual statistical note, as he took 13 games to notch his first 100-yard rushing performance against the Rams at the start of December. That, evidently, was what broke the dam for Howard to start acting as a relevant focal point in the Matt Nagy offense. In his last five outings, Howard has rushed for 399 yards on 88 carries and scored four touchdowns, while averaging 4.53 yards per carry in the process. In a season where Howard rushed for a mere 935 yards in comparison to his previously higher standards, he attained almost half of his production in the year’s final month.
Talk about getting hot and finding your place.
If this is the version of Howard the Bears will see in the playoffs, they may well have found the recipe for effective offensive success in the postseason. Howard gets his first ever postseason start on Sunday against the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles, looking to ride the wave.
Robert is the Editor-in-chief of The Blitz Network (subscribe here!), the managing editor of Windy City Gridiron, and writes for a host of other fine publications. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.