BEAST MODE IS BACK!
Amidst all the Bryce Harper and Phillies home opener madness, Howie Roseman shocked everyone by trading for a legitimate running back. A Jordan Howard trade has been rumored for months now. The Eagles weren’t able to land Mark Ingram or Tevin Coleman this offseason, and the running back position was a major sore spot moving forward.
Last season, the Eagles ranked 30th in yards per rush (3.9). Now, the Eagles didn’t necessarily run the ball that much. The Birds were 24th in rushing attempts per game. But they clearly needed an upgrade in the backfield, and it was only a matter of when.
Everyone knows the Eagles never put a premium on running back in the draft or in free agency. As we were creating our mock drafts, it was difficult trying to figure out who and where the Eagles would make a move for the backfield. The Eagles have not picked a running back in the first or second round of the NFL Draft since 2009.
Just a couple of days ago, Howie Roseman made a statement that didn’t go so well with fans when appeared on 94 WIP. “We are excited about Wendell Smallwood, Corey Clement, and Josh Adams. Corey, a guy that was a huge part of a Super Bowl winning team and our Super Bowl win. Josh Adams showed in flashes what he can do. Obviously those guys coming off offseason injuries, and a big part of that is getting them back and getting them part of the program. You also talk about Wendell. When he has been called to play, he has been a solid player.”
What did the Eagles give up?
The Eagles gave up a conditional 6th round pick in 2020, which can become 5th rounder. Listen, when the Eagles win the Super Bowl next year, that pick is going to be 32nd in the 5th. Next topic…
Initial Impressions & Reaction
The Eagles essentially traded Michael Bennett for Jordan Howard.
Grabbing Jordan Howard for a conditional third day pick in 2020 was another Howie Heist. One only has to ask: what kind of material does Howie Roseman have on the other GMs around the NFL? This was pure robbery. Howie is a Somalian pirate who stares at other NFL GMs and says “Look at me, I’m your Captain now.” This was a very good low risk, high reward move that will surely give Carson Wentz some breathing room in the backfield.
Will the real Eagles RB please stand up?
If you’re an Eagles fan like me, then the one word you want to hear when talking about running backs is durability. The Eagles were decimated by injuries last season. Most notably: Darren Sproles and Jay Ajayi. Jay Ajayi tore his ACL and was placed on injured reserve during early October 2018. Ajayi was a solid contributor in the backfield in 2017, finishing with 408 yards on 4.5 yards per carry.
Darren Sproles went down during week 3 when he tore his ACL and fractured his wrist on the same play in Week 3. The Eagles replaced Sproles with Kenjon Barner and gave more of the heavy lifting to Wendell Smallwood as the primary third down running back and pass catching option out of the backfield.
And here we are: Jordan Howard has appeared in 48 of 49 possible games. Let me say that again. Jordan Howard has played 48 of 49 games. No, I’m serious. We can all officially take a deep breath. The Eagles now have a running back that can stay on the field. Rejoice! Between Howard’s durability, production, and price tag, how can you not love this trade as an Eagles fan? Move aside double doink, the Eagles just screwed the Bears AGAIN.
Jordan Howard’s Fit with the Birds
Jordan Howard was a 5th round pick of the Chicago Bears in 2016. He’s a 24 year old RB, who is 3rd in rushing yards in the NFL since 2016. Jordan Howard is a very good first/second down running back that thrives in short yardage plays. When one talks about Jordan Howard, it begins and ends with rushing conversions. He’s among the top in the league in terms of getting first downs. Jordan Howard moves the chains.
I’m fine with the Eagles not putting a premium on running backs and opting for running back by committee, but they clearly needed to make an upgrade. I envision Jordan Howard to be the “LeGarrette Blount” in the Eagles backfield. Howard is a guy that can break tackles, put his head down for that extra yard, and extend drives.
Moving those Chains
According to Dave Spadaro, Jordan Howard converted 23 of 31 runs of 3rd and 4th and less than 2 yards in 2018, good for 74% conversation rate. To put that in perspective, Zeke Elliott converted 35/46 for the Cowboys last season, good for 76%. According to Pro Football Focus, Jordan Howard has been tops in the NFL in terms of yards after contact the past 3 seasons.
How about pass protection? According to Pro Football Focus, Jordan Howard had two hurries allowed on 96 blocking attempts. Is there anything more important than protecting Carson Wentz? How about bonehead plays? Jordan Howard did not commit a single penalty in 2018. Howard was also a major focus of the Chicago Bears offense and should thrive with the Eagles, especially when defenses have Carson, Ertz, Jeffery, Goedert, and Agholor to deal with. Defenses won’t be able to cheat against the Eagles this season.
Jordan Howard behind Carson Wentz in our two tight end sets should be a huge advantage for the Eagles this season. I have no idea how defenses are going to stop an offense with Jackson and Jeffery on the edges, and now Howard running behind Carson, Ertz, and Goedert. Good luck, defense.
Most importantly though, this move does wonders for Carson Wentz, who doesn’t have to carry the team on a broken back any longer. Carson finally has a workhorse that can get first downs and thrive in play action passes. The addition of Desean Jackson will keep the safeties back, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Howard goes for more than 1,000 yards running and 250 yards receiving this season.
But how did we get Jordan Howard so cheap?
Jordan Howard’s numbers have declined every year since entering the NFL. He will need a new contract next year. The Chicago Bears simply didn’t want to pay him. So then where are the Birds in regards to cap space. Super glad you asked…
This Is Howie Do It
Not enough can be said about Howie Roseman, who has had an incredible offseason. The Eagles very clearly had cap issues at the start of the offseason. Through releasing players and several “You’re a Wizard, Howie” contract restructures, the Eagles are now looking on the positive. The Eagles came into the offseason $19 million over the cap and are now $24 million under. Unbelievable.
The roster movement this offseason has been something. Timmy Jernigan, Stefen Wisniewski, and Nick Foles were let go. The Eagles traded Michael Bennett and restructured Nigel Bradham and Rodney McLeod. The Eagles traded for Desean Jackson, but he only has a cap hit of $3 million. Malik Jackson and Ronald Darby both make less than $3 million this year.
The Eagles and the NFL Draft
I expect the Eagles to focus on offensive line and defense in the upcoming draft. Are the Eagles done addressing running back? Perhaps not. The Eagles could still look to add a dynamic RB in the backfield. One speedster to keep an eye on is Darrell Henderson from Memphis. This is a big play back that had 1,909 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior last season. He’s a home run hitter and also very good in the passing game. Henderson would be a solid addition to the offense who could be our “Darren Sproles replacement” for next year and would be a fan favorite.