While Mike Davis does not have the reputation, he may be stepping in for Jordan Howard
When the Chicago Bears signed Mike Davis, many saw this as a move that did not affect Jordan Howard. It could be looked at as more of a Benny Cunningham replacement. He may not be a direct replacement over Jordan Howard-Davis’ career-high 112 carries last year is less than half of a career low for Howard. However, he surely is not a direct Cunningham replacement. Cunningham had 11 carries last season and made $800K.
Davis is 26 years old and signed for $3 million per year over the next two seasons. He is going to be much more involved than Benny Cunningham. He likely expects to be much more involved than his 112 carries last year.
While Davis has not done much with his career to date, a lot of that can be tied to injuries. Last season he saw a career high in carries and performed well. So well that it caught the eyes of Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace.
Yards after contact
Davis averaged 2.89 yards after contact per attempt last season. That is a strong number in comparison to Jordan Howard, who averaged 2.74 yards after contact per attempt. That was one of the more impressive feats of Howard. In 2017 Davis averaged 2.84 yards per carry after contact, while Howard averaged 2.52.
Goal Line work
Mike Davis had 21 rushing attempts in the red zone. He had 93 yards and four touchdowns. Jordan Howard got much work overall toting it 35 times in the red zone. While they amounted to five more touchdowns, it was only for 14 more yards.
Howard scored every 3.8 touches in the red zone, while Davis scored every 5.3 touches.
Still, Davis showed that he could get goal-line work. The biggest thing that he showed with those 21 carries is that he did not fumble. Mike Davis had a perfect fumble rate and has not fumbled over his past 200 rushing attempts.
Of course, Jordan Howard had two fumbles last season, both coming at crucial times, and one coming on the goal line in an overtime loss against Miami.
Explosive run rate
Despite limited touches Mike Davis burst for ten yards or more once every 8.9 rushing attempts. Jordan Howard broke a ten-yard run once every 13.7 rushing attempts last season.
On top of that Davis picked up a first down every 4.4 attempts compared to every 4.7 attempts for Howard.
The last stat is where Davis is just clearly a better back. For his career, Mike Davis has a 78% catch rate on 78 targets. Howard has been targeted 104 times but has a 69.2% catch rate.
Last season Davis had 16 more receptions and converted that into 128 more yards after the catch.
The fact of the matter is that when Mike Davis signs on the dotted lines with the Chicago Bears, he is the highest paid running back in the room. Not Jordan Howard. Howard is due $2 million next season, Davis can earn up to $3.5 million per year. Howard is likely to be traded, and with the picks salary associated with it, the Bears will still make up most of the difference in salary from Mike Davis.
The Bears think that they can get better than Jordan Howard production out of Davis with a more significant workload. He may not see 250 carries that Howard did, as Cohen could see more running game work and a rookie will undoubtedly cut into the pie.
However, expect over half of the 250 carries lost by Jordan Howard to go to Mike Davis next season.