Jordan Howard had lost his job in Philadelphia from last year, so he left in free agency this offseason for a chance to be the No. 1 tailback with the Dolphins. Here are Howard’s odds at Mybookie to lead the NFL in rushing yards in the 2020 regular season as well Miami’s Week 1 odds.
Howard was a fifth-round pick by the Chicago Bears out of Indiana in 2016. Howard was a low-level recruit who started his NCAA career at UAB but then transferred to Indiana. Howard was graded a 6.1 on NFL.com for that 2016 Draft and had the third-highest running back rating with only Derrick Henry at 6.15, and Ezekiel Elliott at 7.09 having higher ratings than him. Henry and Elliott are now two of the NFL’s best backs.
Howard was great as a rookie with the Bears in 2016, finishing with a franchise rookie record 1,313 rushing yards, second in the league behind Elliott. Howard’s 5.2 yards per carry ranked fifth among NFL running backs in 2016. joined Gale Sayers as the only Bears rookie running backs to make the Pro Bowl.
Following up his dominant rookie season, Howard posted his second-consecutive 1,000-yard season in 2017 with 1,122 yards on the ground. Howard combined for 15 rushing touchdowns between the two years. Between 2016-2018, Howard ranked third, third and ninth in the NFL in rushing first downs. However, Howard’s role was severely diminished in 2018.
Before last season, he was shipped off by the Bears to the Eagles for just a sixth-round pick in 2020. In Week 9 against his former team in the Bears, Howard rushed 19 times for 82 yards and a touchdown in a victory but suffered a shoulder injury and did not play again last season. He had 525 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns in 10 total games.
This past March, Howard signed a two-year, $9.75 million contract with the Dolphins. Overall, he has 3,895 yards on 897 attempts — an average of 4.3 yards per carry — and all but two of his 32 career touchdowns have come on the ground.
His pass blocking grades, courtesy of Pro Football Focus, have consistently measured near the top of his position. His lowest grade as a pass blocker is a tie between 2019 and 2017 at 75.6 – both in the “green” category (above average). His 86.3 pass blocking grade on 92 reps in 2018 was best in the NFL among backs with 32 pass blocking reps (two per game). On 255 career pass blocking reps, Howard has allowed just nine QB pressures; seven of which were hurries (plays where the quarterback is not hit).
Howard is a replacement-level two-down grinder, but that was something the Dolphins desperately lacked in 2019 as QB Ryan Fitzpatrick led the team in rushing. Kalen Ballage was historically inefficient after Kenyan Drake was shipped off to the Cardinals. The Dolphins were last in the league last year in rushing yards, totaling only 1,156.
Howard should be the top choice for the Dolphins’ goal line work this season, but it likely will be a “thunder and lightning” approach on the team with Howard offering the power and Matt Breida offering the speed. Breida was acquired in a trade with the 49ers.
It is all up to coordinator Chan Gailey and the offense he brings to Miami – a total unknown since he has been out of the league since 2016. We know he has previously loved three and four receiver sets, and if the goal is to get speed into the open field, Breida is the best option.
Pro Football Focus ranked all 32 NFL starting running backs as it pertained to elusiveness entering 2020 — and Howard finished 25th on the list. He ranks third in both rushing attempts and yards since 2016, capable of carrying the load of a lead back, but isn’t not someone who is going to make a whole lot of defenders miss in one-on-one situations. Howard has broken a tackle on just 13% of his carries during those four years. Only two other running backs with at least 250 carries on that span are worse in terms of elusiveness.