Jordan Howard might be a four-year veteran, but he still has a lot to learn from Philadelphia Eagles’ running backs coach, Duce Staley.
The Philadelphia Eagles did a lot to improve their weakest unit over the course of the 2019 offseason. Last year, the Birds offense was visibly struggling in comparison to their 2017 season. While the uncertainty of Carson Wentz had a lot to do with that, it also didn’t help that the backfield was wildly inconsistent. With Jay Ajayi injured, the Eagles were relying on a visible backup in Wendell Smallwood, and two young and undrafted prospects in Josh Adams and Corey Clement. While those guys had some flashes at times, overall the unit was a liability.
Knowing they couldn’t end up with the same in issues in 2019, the Eagles front office did everything they could to improve the situation. First, it started with adding a veteran back with three years under his belt in Jordan Howard. Then, the Eagles went out and drafted Penn State’s Miles Sanders with their second-round pick. And suddenly the Eagles’ backfield looks strong once again. Despite the unit looking strong, though, as always, there is room for improvement.
What needs to improve?
Miles Sanders might be an elusive runner, who is a strong pass-catcher, but he isn’t exactly a top dog when it comes to pass protection. That’s where the veteran Howard helps out. Unlike Sanders, Howard is a stable pass protector. But just like Sanders, Howard also has his flaws. With three years under his belt, Howard has proved next to nothing when it comes to the passing game.
The Chicago Bears went out and drafted Tarik Cohen since Howard never progressed in that area. But now that he’s in Philly with Duce Staley, Howard understands he will have to improve that part of his game if he wants to remain relevant within the heavy backfield rotation. Everybody knows Howard is more than serviceable as a runner, but Eagles’ running backs coach Duce Staley has been working hard with him this offseason to maximize his potential in the passing game.
According to NJ Advanced Media’s Mike Kaye, Howard has appreciated Staley’s style of coaching thus far. As Howard has embraced the fact that he doesn’t know everything and hasn’t exactly mastered his craft, he’s been very open to what Philly has to offer to him.
And instead of continuing to improve his power running, Howard has mixed in a lot of route running, and catching this offseason as he looks to become more versatile. “I worked hard at that part of my game and put that time in, and I’m just glad I have the chance to show that off.”
Being that Howard has started more games in his three-year career than the entire Eagles’ backfield, he will most likely garner the most snaps on offense early on in the year. Although the Eagles will mix in a heavy dose of Sanders and Clement, they might find the opportunity to utilize Howard more than they initially anticipated if he did in fact, improve those other parts of his game.
Regardless of the situation, though, Howard is excited to collaborate with Sanders. He mentioned the drafting of the Penn State running back as an ‘enhancement’ to their unit. Many speculated that Howard grew frustrated in Chicago since they added Cohen heavily into the mix. But the former Bears running back refuses to let that speculation carry on in Philly with Sanders present.