Bernstein: Points Matter More Than Feelings

October 08, 2018 - 2:33 pm
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(670 The Score) After his team's 48-10 pasting of the hapless Buccaneers on Sept. 30, Bears running back Jordan Howard left the locker room without speaking to reporters.

It was easy to infer some dissatisfaction even if it wasn't implied, because Howard only rushed for 25 yards on 11 carries, with five of those attempts coming on a meaningless final drive. A 2016 Pro Bowl honoree, Howard has just 203 total rushing yards and one touchdown through four games, well off the pace of his previous two seasons.

And, so what?

At 3-1, the Bears are in first place in the NFC North with their arrow pointed up and their Super Bowl odds dropping, finally adding a tantalizing glimpse of the potential of the Matt Nagy/Mitchell Trubisky partnership to the establishment of a dominant defense. The outburst against the Bucs pushed their offensive averages up the charts, and the Bears now rank seventh in the NFL in points per game with 27.8, 10th in rushing yards per game with 121.5 and third in time of possession at 33:03.

Tarik Cohen's 308 yards from scrimmage in a multifaceted role have been a big reason for their success, and his increased usage was expected when Nagy took the job, as his skill set was seen as more similar to the prototype for such an offense that befits cutback quickness and pass-catching out of the backfield. There was even speculation back in April that Howard could be expendable via trade, talk that may or may not have caused Howard to temporarily remove Bears-related content from his Instagram account, an occurrence that he chose to neither confirm nor deny.

This isn't Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. going off on everything and everyone and demanding more opportunities, but Howard's level of happiness has at least risen to a level that merits further observation as the sample of games grows. It's entirely possible that the combination of worsening weather and the Bears playing with a lead will give him a reasonable chance of returning to bell-cow status, but it could also be the case that the initial projection of him being a more challenging fit in this system was correct.

It's been some time since the Bears have had any problem coming close to being described as a good one to have, but distribution of work in an improving offense might qualify. If they're getting good and scoring enough points to keep winning, we needn't care who feels slighted or underused.  

So far, different from the previous two seasons only looks better.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in middays. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.​​​​​​​