Projected starters: Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey
The consistent theme of this article so far, if you couldn’t tell, is that there is a huge range of how good this team could be. This revolves around the fact that many of the players are new to the Bears and are thus unknown quantities. The running back position is more of the same. There has been a huge difference of opinion among the members of Bears nation in regards to the projected performance of Bears running back Jeremy Langford. (I won’t get into the decision to let Matt Forte go, it’s been discussed more than enough. I think most just check that in the loss column for Ryan Pace, but Pace has more wins than losses in my book). Langford showed potential last year and it appears that the coaches are leaning towards him to be the lead back in their committee. Of course in a John Fox offense he will be sharing carries and it appears that Carey will be his number one partner in crime.
Depth: Jacquizz Rodgers & Jordan Howard
Senorise Perry hasn’t been getting a lot of reps, nor has he been getting any attention whatsoever. Jordan Howard is a rookie with a great deal of potential and appears to be headed for the 4th RB slot and a role on special teams. This is fine but still surprising because I was part of the group that thought Howard was going to make a huge move up the depth chart to push to become the number two back. Looks like the “Jordan Howard for President” shirt I made will have to be put back in the dresser drawer for a while.
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Best Case: Last year Jeremy Langford performed well filling in for Forte and the production from the running back position didn’t show any noticeable drop off. Langford has good quickness and vision when running the ball which should only get better in his second year. There were times when Langford struggled catching the ball out of the back field but this has shown signs of improvement during camp. The ceiling for Langford would look like a young Tiki Barber, scampering around the field, running hard around the outside and being a safety valve for the QB. When the need arises Carey can be the back that runs hard between the tackles and finds a way to get in the endzone.
Worst Case: The floor for the running back position centers around Langford showing zero improvement in his catching ability and being exposed as a running back who is completely unable to handle contact of any kind. Then follow that up with Ka’Deem Carey who is too slow to be an every down back but also too small to be a true power back and you have a running game that shows minimal production and fails to keep the opposing defense honest.
Cap Hit: Jeremy Langford (660k), Ka’Deem Carey (710k), Jordan Howard (512k), Jacquizz Rodgers (680k). Langford, Carey, and Howard are all still on their rookie contracts. Jacquizz Rodgers deal is a surprisingly team friendly contract. If you added up all these together they would still rank only 23 for running back cap hits behind NY Giant RB Rashad Jennings. Needless to say, this group is a huge bargain provided they produce at a league average level.
Projected 2016 Ranking: It’s more likely that Langford improves than regresses which makes this ranking slightly more positive. And I still have faith in the development of Howard. Rank 12-15
Next: Wide Receivers