Gabriel: Howard Shows He's A Fit For Nagy's Offense

September 11, 2018 - 11:55 am
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(670 The Score) One of the hot topics after the Bears hired coach Matt Nagy back in January was whether running back Jordan Howard would be a fit in the team's new-look offense. 

The question came in large part because Howard had struggled with drops at times out of the backfield in his first two NFL seasons, and running backs working out of the backfield in the passing game are a key element of Nagy's offense. The fervor surrounding Howard's fit reached the extent that Bears officials had to address the situation directly, telling him that they weren't going to trade him as rumors swirled about his future.

Well, one heartbreaking game into the new season, the Bears had a silver lining come out of Green Bay on Sunday night: Howard is a quality fit in Nagy's offense. 

In addition to rushing 15 times for 82 yards, Howard caught five passes for 25 yards and looked comfortable in the passing game. While the passes thrown to him were of the short variety, Howard still had to adjust a couple times and had one difficult catch. He made receptions cleanly, tucked the ball quickly and worked upfield.

That performance came after the 23-year-old Howard spent the offseason program doing what many professionals do: working on a perceived weakness. Howard put in plenty of work on the receiving end of the JUGS machine, starting in April and continuing through OTAs and on his own time, with some reports indicating he was catching 300 passes a day. It was clear that Howard wanted to be known as a complete running back and not just a runner.

When I watched the Bears in training camp, I also never saw a problem with Howard's receiving skills. Needless to say, catching the football isn't going to be a problem for him this season. Howard is going to be a vital part of Nagy's offense. And his multi-dimensional skills are important, because the Bears want opponents to game plan and worry about Howard both as a runner and a pass receiver when they line up in various sets.

In the aftermath of the 24-23 loss to the Packers, Nagy mentioned he wished that he had used Howard more against Green Bay. I believe we'll see that moving forward -- both in the running game and given Howard's progress also in the passing game. 

Add it all up and it's clear: Yes, Howard is a good fit for this Bears offense.

Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who's an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.​​