PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Eagles acquired Bears running back Jordan Howard this week in exchange for a 2020 sixth-round draft pick. The 24-year-old ranks third in the NFL in rushing yards since his rookie year in 2016. Last season, he rushed for 935 yards and nine touchdowns.
NFL football analyst Warren Sharp, creator of SharpFootballAnalysis.com, laid out a few reasons that the trade is likely to be beneficial for the Eagles and Howard partnership next season. The first reason that he mentions is that the Eagles were one of the least predictable offenses in the league last year with regard to run vs. pass when the quarterback was under center last season. The Bears were top of the league (76%) run in terms of predictability in that group, which was likely a contributing factor to Howard’s career-worst yards per attempt number last year (3.7).
The second reason that Sharp alludes to in the tweet above and explains further in the one below, is that the Eagles offense plays to the strengths of Howard’s running style much more than the Bears offense did. The Eagles were one of the most successful teams in the league in running behind the center and used those runs at one of the top rates in the league (31%). That usage was due to the stellar play of Jason Kelce who has been the best run-blocking center for each of the past two years according to Pro Football Focus.
And the final point that Sharp made is that the Howard has had some of his best success in the league when running out of the shotgun formation in 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end on the field). In a happy coincidence, the Eagles have run the third-most run plays in the league out of that exact formation over the course of Howard’s three years in the league.
Overall, the trade looks to be a good one for the Eagles. They add a running back with the third-most yards in the league over the past three years whose strengths in the running game seem to perfectly align with theirs. With running back being a question mark entering this offseason, the Birds look like they have addressed another area of need in building around quarterback Carson Wentz.