Pro Football Focus recently put up a list of its most elusive among the starting running backs for each team, listing 27 veterans and 5 rookies projected to win the starting spot. Among the 27 veterans, Jordan Howard checked in at 25th, between Leonard Fournette and Sony Michel. Per PFF:
You know what you’re going to get with Howard at this point in his career. He ranks third in both rushing attempts and yards since 2016, capable of carrying the load of a lead back, but he’s not someone who is going to make a whole lot of defenders whiff in one-on-one situations. Howard has broken a tackle on just 13% of his carries during those four years — ranking ahead of just two other running backs on this list with 250 or more carries in the same time frame. He’s not going to go above and beyond when it comes to creating for himself.
I mean....yeah, guys. That’s who Howard is. He’s never been an elusive back. He has the frame and running style to be a straight ahead, between-the-tackles bruiser. And I don’t know that it’s fair to say “he’s not going to go above and beyond when it comes to creating for himself.” I just don’t think he’s a guy with as much wiggle as some of the other backs on the list, and - again - it’s really not who he is as a player. It’s like saying, on the list of things that are dry, water came in at the bottom.
In any event, Howard has been a productive back when given a full load. His rookie season in Chicago was very good, with him amassing 1313 yards on the ground on 252 carries after taking over the starting gig in October 2016. His numbers have decreased since that season (along with his touches), but his effectiveness in finding the end zone has not, rushing for 30 career touchdowns in 4 seasons. He’s also been very adept at not coughing the ball up to the opponent, losing a fumble only 3 times in 897 career carries.
So, in Howard, you’re getting a solid, physical player who can handle a bunch of carries, produce an adequate number of yards (4.3 ypc for career), hold onto the ball, and can help win the goal line battles. That’s his role, and Matt Breida can handle the shimmy, shake, and sizzle to provide a good balance in the backfield.