Philadelphia Eagles: Jordan Howard is an upgrade over Jay Ajayi

(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images) /

After trading for Jay Ajayi in October of 2017, Howie Roseman has secured the Philadelphia Eagles’ next lead rusher in ex-Chicago Bears RB Jordan Howard.

And just like that, on a day that should be dominated by coverage of Bryce Harper and the Philadelphia Phillies, Howie Roseman has found a way to re-insert the Philadelphia Eagles into the conversation through Jordan Howard.

Wow, what a day for Philly sports fans.

Now this move shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise for fans in the know, as Howard and the Eagles have been connected ever since the Birds failed to land even a mid-level rusher in free agency, but for the low, low price of a conditional 2020 draft pick (big ups to Ian Rapoport for the heads up) the Eagles have just gotten a whole lot better almost overnight.

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I guess Roseman just really likes hunting for powerbacks on the trade block.

‘But who is Howard and how does he help the Eagles in 2019?’.

I’m glad you asked.

After initially starting his college career off at the University of Alabama, Birmingham, where he amassed 2,468 yards as a huge fish in a small pond, Howard was forced to transfer after the university announced the end of their football program; a controversial decision that lasted until 2017.

From there, Howard spent a single season at Indiana, where he ran the ball 196 times for 1,213 and nine touchdowns on the ground, opening the door to a legitimate NFL opportunity; an opportunity Jordan could not ignore.

With one year of eligibility left with the NCAA, Howard declared for the 2016 NFL Draft, but was hardly considered a can’t miss product. Initially dubbed a probable Day 2 selection by, Howard slipped all the way to the fifth round and was selected 150th overall by the Chicago Bears, to hopefully fill the void left by franchise rusher Matt Forte.

He did that and oh so much more.

In his first season as a pro, Howard started 13 out of 15 games while rushing for 1,313 and six touchdowns in route to a rookie Pro Bowl appearance. Suddenly vaulted into the increasingly dwindling ranks of ‘lead back’, Howard looked like he’d be wearing the blue and orange for a long time, but after hitting it big on another Day 3 rusher in the 2017 NFL Draft, that presumption became a whole lot more cloudy.

With North Carolina A&T‘s Tarik Cohen in the fold as a do-it-all rusher, receiver, and return man, Matt Nagy‘s offense came to life in the most excellent way; scoring an average of 26.3 points per game while making second-year first-round quarterback Mitch Trubisky look like a genuine franchise quarterback.

Granted, Howard still led the team in rushing in Cohen’s first two seasons in the Second City, but the team’s offense was much more effective with the later under center, as his versatility made the team all the more challenging to scheme against.

Which is why Howard is now a Philadelphia Eagle.

While his style of play may not be for everyone, like the Bears or teams that utilize their running backs in the passing game, in a power running scheme like the one Doug Pederson loves to deploy, Howard is among the best players in the world at what he does.

Think of Howard as a super-charged Jay Ajayi.

Like Ajayi, Howard does the bulk of his damage between the tackles as a one-man battering ram, punishing the defensive front while keeping the clock ticking. Sure, he’s only been targeted 72 times for 568 yards over his 47 game career, good for about 12 receiving yards a game, but that’s like being upset with Carson Wentz for not running a 4.3, or being upset with Ronald Darby for only intercepting one of his 12 passes defended; it’s not about what a player can’t do, but what they can do.

Next. George Iloka is a horrible Cowboys consolation prize. dark

As things presently stand, there wasn’t a better scheme fit available for Doug Pederson’s offense than Jordan Howard, and by securing him for a conditional pick, similar to what Jay Ajayi cost back in 2016,  Howie Roseman has guaranteed the team’s offense will be more potent, powerful, and balanced in 2019.