After a tremendous rookie season. Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard chats with Bear Goggles On.
When the dust settled on the 2016 NFL draft, plenty of scouts raved about Ryan Pace’s draft class and thought that fifth-round pick Jordan Howard could potentially do some really nice things for the Chicago Bears.
I don’t think anyone thought that Howard would find himself as the second leading rusher in the entire NFL, and that’s after he barely touched the ball for the first two games of the season. Had the Bears committed to Howard from day one, it’s possible he might have pushed Ezekiel Elliott for the rushing crown.
But settling in where Howard did was still rather impressive. He has become the jewel of Pace’s first two draft classes and he talked about his success this season, what he expects the Bears to do next season, and what he thinks might happen with Jay Cutler.
1. Talk about your first season in the NFL. What was it like for you to come into the league as a fifth round pick and have as much success as you did right out of the gate?
The first year was crazy because the first game I didn’t even touch the field at all. Second game I started playing, third game I started playing, fourth game is when I had to start and really took off. My coaches did a great job of preparing me for the role I had, and the other running backs did a great job helping me out and the O-Line did a great job too.
2. One story that has flown under-the-radar is the departure of Stan Drayton. He’s an incredible running backs coach and has been a factor in a lot of careers. How much did he help you during your rookie season?
Stan Drayton was a big part in helping me with my success. He is as good as advertised. It will hurt losing him and he took my game to another level. Every year you think you know it all, but you learn something new every year and I’ve had many different running back coaches and they’ve all taught me something different and each of them have helped get my game to a different level.
3. The offensive line got a bad wrap much of the season. They received a lot of criticism for their play, but they really seemed to open some holes for you during the season. There were plenty of injuries up front, but when they are healthy, how good could this offensive line be?
Offensive line was great the whole year. I feel like they get a lot of negative criticism, but I really feel like they don’t deserve that because they do a great job blocking for me no matter who’s in. Ted Larsen and Eric Kush did a great job when they played. Cody, he’s just an unselfish player and I don’t think he gets enough credit, he moved to center right before the season and this was his first time playing center. He did a great job all year.
4. You talked about your personal success earlier, but obviously the goal is to win football games and unfortunately the Bears struggled with that. How difficult was it balancing your personal success with the team’s disappointment?
It was very difficult balancing the personal success because personal success doesn’t matter when you don’t have team success. End of the day you want to win. Obviously, the goal is to have personal success and team success, but when you’re not winning, you can’t even think about personal success.
5. Next season is going to be an important one for this team, especially for John Fox and Ryan Pace. What do you think this team can do next year, and on a related note, what do you think the team will end up doing with Jay Cutler?
I feel like we can have a really nice season. We definitely have the talent here. We just had so many injuries and people moving in and out. I mean, we had three different starting quarterbacks. Any time you have three different starting quarterbacks that’s tough to have a successful season. I saw Jay yesterday and he’s working out and getting ready and preparing for the season. He doesn’t know what’s going to happen. But we would welcome him back, we hope they bring him back, but whatever management decides, I’m behind them.