Here’s a stat for you: the average age of the Bears running back committee is 23.6 years old. Jacquizz Rodgers is the eldest at 26 and rookie Jordan Howard is the youngest at 21.
All these players are young and need to prove themselves, which is why the competition level at the running back position is a reason to give a damn in 2016.
Going into camp, all Da Bears Brothers thought that the top three running backs would be Jeremy Langford, Howard and Ka’Deem Carey. As it turns out, both Will and Nick noted in their training camp podcasts that the Bears were using Rodgers more than we all had anticipated. That’s not a bad thing, as he’s proven to be a quality backup throughout his career. He’s never rushed for more than 362 yards in a season, but that’s understandable with his primary role as a backup. That will not change here as John Fox prefers to use a committee of running backs. If Rodgers can show that he can be reliable then he should earn himself a secondary role in the backfield.
Last season, Langford was the primary running back behind the now ex-Bear Matt Forte. When Forte went down due to injury, Langford did his best to fill the void. Langford’s top three games were against the then “St. Louis” Rams when he had 73 yards rushing and 109 receiving yards. He also played well the week before in San Diego when he rushed for 72 yards and had 70 receiving yards. Langford’s third best game came against Tampa Bay when he rushed for 83 yards. In his rookie season, he rushed for 537 yards and had 279 receiving yards. I think that Langford has shown glimpses of his potential. Give him some more time and he will have consistent games like the top three from a year ago mentioned above.
As the self-proclaimed President of the Ka’Deem Carey fan club, I think we should pay close attention to Carey in 2016. He has been patient so far in his two-year career. In year one in 2014, he played in 14 games and rushed for 158 yards. In 2015, Carey rushed for 159 yards in 11 games. Imagine if he gets more steady playing time in all 16 games in 2016. He practically replicated his rookie season in three fewer games in 2015. I would like to see the production Carey brings if he can play in more games. He’s a tough runner that hits the first hole hard and fights for every yard. His skill set doesn’t blow anyone away, but he works hard and that is what Fox wants to see in his guys. As long as he continues to be patient, his time will come. Carey will have a breakout season as long as he gets the playing time to do so.
The young bulldozer running back was drafted in the fifth round of the draft in 2016. It was a surprise pick by the Bears, as none of Da Bears Brothers expected it. However, he might be the guy that the Bears need in the backfield. A majority of the backs on the roster are elusive and quick, but not Howard. Howard packs a punch and runs guys over. He also runs more north than any other direction. It has been since the Thomas Jones/Cedric Benson era that the Bears have had a running back that runs exclusively downhill. Michael Bush was supposed to be the most recent one, but he doesn’t count for reasons we don’t want to discuss.
Yes, he is still on the team. No, he has not done much. In 2014 he played in all 16 games and racked up -1 yards receiving. He is doing a great job of being patient as I’m sure he is just waiting for his opportunity to shine. I imagine that he has been around since 2014 to be a development back. I’m curious to see how he has developed since his rookie year in 2014, but I expect his role to be on special teams if he makes the final roster.
Why Give a Damn?
There’s so much to learn about all these running backs. Right now, there’s plenty of healthy competition on the depth chart that will reveal who wants the starting spot more. Currently, there is no player who stands out more than the other backs. To find out how this position battle will shake out and to see if one of these backs can become the anchor in the backfield for years to come is a reason to give a damn in 2016.