2016 Chicago Bears – Bold Predictions

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

The staff at BGO has made one bold prediction each which I’ve compiled over the next few pages. Some are bolder than others, but they are all more aggressive and optimistic than you will see on most sites!

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I’ll start off with my bold prediction and go from there. Let us know what you think in the comments or on Twitter.

2016 Bears Bold Predictions

1.) Rookie RB Jordan Howard leads the Bears in both rushing yards and touchdowns. – Mike Flannery

When the Bears let Matt Forte leave in free agency it was widely assumed that 2nd-year back Jeremy Langford would take over as the Bears primary ball carrier. Some doubt was shed on that when the Bears made a substantial offer to free agent RB C.J. Anderson this off-season.

Anderson ended up declining the offer and taking less money to stay in Denver and the Bears didn’t sign any starting caliber free agent running backs. That seemed to secure Langford’s hold on the position until the Bears drafted Indiana’s Jordan Howard in the 5th round, who as I wrote in my pre-draft scouting report, is the back most similar to C.J. Anderson in the draft.

Howard is a between the tackles workhorse with the size (6’1 | 230) to break tackles, the speed to turn the corner (4.57), and enough wiggle to make people miss when he doesn’t try to run them over. I gave Howard a 2nd round grade and so did more reputable sites like CBS and NFL.com. The NFL’s draft site even had Howard graded as the 25th best player in the draft (tied with Cody Whitehair!).

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports
Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s not just the fact that I think Howard is going to be a starting-caliber NFL running back, it’s also that I’m worried Langford is not. He averaged a paltry 3.6 yards per carry in his rookie year and struggled with blocking assignments, picking the right rushing lane, and catching the ball in the clutch (Vikings game!).

Langford’s 3.6 yards per carry was the 4th worst average among 44 RBs with at least 100 carries¹. Despite above average speed and agility, Langford only forced 7 missed tackles all season, which was by far the lowest number among the previously mentioned 44 RBs. Even big, slowish backs like Antonio Andrews, LeGarrette Blount, and Eddie Lacy forced significantly more missed tackles per carry. If those two stats weren’t troubling enough, Langford averaged just 1.8 yards after contact which again was the worst among backs with 100 plus carries. So in summary, the Bears have a back that can’t gain four yards per carry, couldn’t make people miss, or break tackles. That’s not a recipe for success in the NFL.

I’m high on Howard and think he can be a productive NFL back if he can stay healthy, but this prediction is just as much based on my doubts that Langford can be a lead back in the NFL. I think the carry distribution will be similar to how Denver used C.J. Anderson and Ronnie Hillman, with Howard carrying most of the load while Langford is the speed complement. If he doesn’t improve his stats from last year, we could even see Ka’Deem Carey or Jaquizz Rodgers taking some carries from Langford as the season goes on.

¹Langford stats from Pro Football Focus

Next: Bold Prediction #2