Dear Jordan Howard,
When the Chicago Bears drafted you in the 5th round of the 2016 NFL draft, I didn’t have a reaction.
I was spoiled as a Bears fan to witness Matt Forte over the last eight seasons and was too upset about him leaving without getting a Super Bowl ring to think about his replacement.
You didn’t start out as the main back on a dreadful Bears team in 2016 as John Fox was still trying to make Jeremy Langford a thing, but it was clear just three weeks into the season that you were the best option moving forward.
After getting just 12 carries in the first two weeks, you got the ball 23 times against the Detroit Lions and gained 111 yards, leading the Bears to their first of only three victories throughout the 2016 campaign.
The other two victories that season were some of your best games, specifically against the Minnesota Vikings on Halloween. On Monday Night Football against a 5-1 Vikings team, you put on one of the most dominant performances I’ve seen from a rookie.
On national television, you put this pitiful offense on your back and gained over 200 total yards to bring down one of the top teams in the league.
The season was already pretty much a lost cause at that point, the Bears were just 2-5 after that victory and their offense was otherwise terrible, but you provided something that all tanking teams need: Hope.
When the Bears drafted Mitch Trubisky the following spring, I couldn’t help but be excited. They have a young running back that has already established himself as a Pro Bowler and now they’re actually using a top pick on a quarterback?!
The possibilities were endless as I imagined the next decade of Bears dominance. Before Trubisky would take his first snap as a Chicago Bear, you did everything you could to give the abominable Mike Glennon his lone victory as you shredded the Steelers, including a monster overtime run to seal the deal.
Sadly, despite owning the AFC North that season, we saw your overall production decrease in 2017.
That wasn’t entirely your fault as it’s hard to find success when the whole world knows that you’ll be getting the ball on first and second down, but it just seemed like you weren’t going to carry the Bears like you did in 2016.
Despite the Bears finding great success and taking strides in every direction in 2018, I was sad to see the lack of success you achieved.
The nine touchdowns were nice, but the way you were used in the offense was puzzling. It seemed like Matt Nagy didn’t know how to use you on a consistent basis and you could never truly find a rhythm.
Midway through the season, it was clear which direction the team was headed, and not many people were happy about the trade rumors surrounding your name.
Whether the Bears are 3-13 or 13-3, there are always going to be tens of thousands of fans cheering and tuning into every game, so most of the fans that were there in 2018 were just as tuned into the bad games from previous years.
We all remember the Minnesota performance on national television and how we imagined you would be carrying us to glory someday.
You were the only enjoyable part of so many terrible games, and true fans don’t forget that. Seeing the team achieve success with your production decreasing just didn’t sit right and it wasn’t fair to you either.
It wasn’t your fault that the Bears went from arguably the most basic offense in the league to one of the most complex and original.
In order to be a successful running back in Nagy’s system, you need to be fast, shifty and athletic. The classic bruiser downfield back simply isn’t as valuable in this offense and it never would be, so this is truly the best option for both parties.
I wish we could’ve had you for one more year and get you the ring you deserve.
I wish that Nagy could’ve found a way for you to be productive in this offense and for you and Tarik Cohen to morph into the thunder and lightning combination we all imagined.
Most of all, I wish you nothing but success moving forward.
Throughout all the rumors, predictable offensive schemes and embarrassing defeats, you were the engine that never stopped working and never complained.
You didn’t demand a trade because Cohen got the ball more than you; you just kept your head down and went back to work.
That’s exactly what Philadelphia can expect in you; a back that will do whatever he is asked of and won’t cause any problems.
The impression you’ve made over your short stay in Chicago won’t be forgotten.