Chicago Bears: Running back midseason review
How have the Chicago Bears running backs looked early into the 2018 season?
Now that the Chicago Bears have played half of their 2018 games, it is an excellent chance to look back at the first half of the year and review how each player has done. This post will look at the running backs.
Jordan Howard cannot say that he is having the season he would have liked. From 5.2 yards per carry as a rookie to 4.1 last year to 3.5 this year, Howard has consistently been less and less efficient as a runner.
This year, he is on pace for 252 carries, which would tie his rookie total in carries. However, he is only on pace for 878 yards, a stark decline from 1,1313 last year.
Not all of these issues are on Howard; however, it is not comforting to see drawn out like that.
One area where Howard has been carrying his stats is touchdowns. Howard is on pace for ten touchdowns, which would set a career high. That comes from four touchdowns in the last three weeks.
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He has been incorporated on the goal line more, and even had a chance against Miami and fumbled. While he is not getting an opportunity in open field, he is converting short-yardage chances and is seeing the rewards over the past three weeks.
As a pass catcher, Howard is on pace for 22 receptions for 174 yards. Last year he caught 23 passes for 125 yards, so only a slight uptick. However, that comes with a 78% catch rate. Last season his catch rate was 71%, 56% the season before.
So, he is not being used as often, and when he is being used, he is not expected to break big runs. Still, he broke a big run against the Bills and turned a one touchdown performance, which has been the standard into a two-touchdown performance. He is not being used more in the passing game but is being more efficient in the passing game. That is enough for a passing grade.
Tarik Cohen is on pace for 98 carries. Last year he had 87 carries. However, without a much bigger workload, the Bears are getting a lot more out of him. His yards per attempt is up from 4.3 to 4.7 and yards from 370 to 458.
Still, the overwhelming difference is in the passing game. Last year, he was targeted 71 times, catching 53 passes for 353 yards. This year, he is on pace for 62 receptions on 86 targets. That has him on pace for 812 receiving yards.
Last year, they went to him 158 times, and he put up 723 yards. This year, he is on pace for 184 touches but is on pace to put up 1,560 yards. Just a slight uptick in touches but notice we are not complaining about his lack of usage like last year. That is because he is doubling his yardage total.
He is on pace for eight touchdowns, after putting up four last year. Even his punt return average is up a full three yards.
While Cohen is likely better after a year in the NFL, this can tell you a lot about the difference between Dowell Loggains and Matt Nagy. It is not about high usage. It is about the quality of usage. With that in mind, Cohen has exceeded all expectations.