The Chicago Bears should look to go back to Jordan Howard a bit more this week
Everyone is freaking out about the usage split between Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard. Matt Nagy said at the beginning of the season that the matchups would dictate the usage of his backs.
So far, that has come to be true. I wrote before the Bucs game that Cohen needed to be a key piece, and he was. Then against the Dolphins, I said they needed to go back to Cohen because of the matchups. They did. The New England Patriots had the same weakness and Cohen did have a decent game in a plus matchup.
So while the matchup has called for three straight weeks of Cohen, this matchup calls for a steady dose of Jordan Howard. It will confuse the trend fantasy fan, but it would confirm the idea that Nagy is just playing the matchups.
When looking at rankings against pass-catching running backs, the Bucs rank 30, the Dolphins rank 26th and the Pats rank 16th, which improved from last week.
However, the New York Jets have shown some kinks in their armor running up the middle. They do rank 13th in rushing defense, but when looking at the matchups, they have not been tested yet.
In week one, they faced the Detroit Lions who were rotating three backs and got blown out early into the game. In Week Two, the Dolphins shuffled Frank Gore and Kenyan Drake, but Drake did put up 11 rushes for 53 yards, his best day between the tackles to date.
Carlos Hyde has struggled to the point where Cleveland traded him to move on from him. Still, he put up 98 yards on 23 rushes to go with two touchdowns running straight at the Jets. Look at his rushing chart. He is getting his success straight up the gut. This is a Jordan Howard performance. Except, you know, Howard is much better than Carlos Hyde.
The New York Jets took on the Jacksonville Jaguars the next week, but that was the game in which Leonard Fournette got hurt. The team had to throw T.J. Yeldon out cold, and they never established a ground attack.
Like the Detroit Lions, game script got away from the Denver Broncos, and the team trailed from start to finish against the Jets. However, Phil Lindsay and Royce Freeman combined for 17 rushes for 92 yards. 5.4 yards per clip.
Phillip Lindsay rushing chart is the encapsulation of what to do and what not do against the Jets. Where is the red? To the outside, that is where Darron Lee can use is speed. Where is the green? Up the middle, that is where Jordan Howard can get back on track and expose a matchup.
The next week Marlon Mack put up 89 yards on 12 rushes, and most of his damage was done in the same variety. Latavius Murray had 15 rushes for 69 yards the following week, including a 38-yard touchdown off the right guard.
Latavius Murray, Marlon Mack, Phillip Lindsay, and Carlos Hyde. These are the backs having success running straight up the gut against the New York Jets. They have not seen a running back like Jordan Howard yet.
This will be the ultimate test case. If Jordan Howard does not get going this week, he is not going to be a piece in this offense, and we all need to move on. However, if Matt Nagy calls his number, it will show that Nagy understands the mismatch and will continue to mix and match his backs to find the best offensive blend possible. I am betting on the latter and expecting Jordan Howard to have a strong game.