It appears that people love sleeping on the Chicago Bears.
The NFL Top 100 series is underway. Every year, NFL players vote on whom they believe are the best in the league. While the Bears had an abysmal 3-13 season, they had a few bright spots. However, it appears that the rest of the league is unaware of it.
Ike Taylor of the NFL Network stated on Monday that nobody on Chicago’s roster was on the list. Unless the former Steelers cornerback make a mistake, this leak is more than likely true. There are some notable omissions that could’ve possibly made it. However, one undoubtedly stands out above the rest.
Running back Jordan Howard.
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Howard lit up the NFL in his rookie season. He finished second in rushing yards, fourth in yards per carry, had 10 carries over 20 yards and six touchdowns. Oh yeah, and he didn’t even start until the fourth week of the season.
With those stats, you’d figure that his fellow NFL adversaries would take note, right?
As of this writing, players 61-100 have been announced in the NFL Top 100. Of those players, three of them are running backs: Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount and Adrian Peterson. If you watched any of these players last year (or even seen their stats), then you’d know that these rankings are false.
First off, let’s address the elephant in the room: Adrian Peterson was in no way, shape or form better than Jordan Howard last year.
The now-former Viking had 72 rushing yards on 37 carries with no touchdowns last year. In comparison, Howard had 1,241 more rushing yards, six more touchdowns and 3.3 more yards per carry. Sure, AP is a legend in his own right, but does his past reputation really make him a top-100 player right now?
Think of it this way: was LaDainian Tomlinson a top-100 player in 2011? He only had 280 rushing yards and one touchdown in his final year in the league. Although LT was arguably the best running back of the 2000’s, his past reputation wouldn’t factor in to how good he was that year.
So why should it work for Peterson?
The other backs ahead of Howard so far, Ajayi and Blount, at least have somewhat of an argument. The former finished fourth in rushing yards and had eight touchdowns. While Ajayi had Howard beat in touchdowns, the Indiana alum beat the former Boise State Bronco in rushing yards, yards per carry and 20-yard runs. Howard also had three fewer fumbles than Ajayi.
Blount led the league in touchdowns last year. However, that was more of a result of the system he was in than it was a reflection of his actual talent. Most of his touchdowns were in short-yardage situations. Plus, Howard had him beat in rushing yards, yards per carry, 20-yard runs and rushing yards per game, among other statistics.
Some may claim that, since the Bears have such a great offensive line, Howard’s stats are inflated. However, this is not the case. Josh Sitton was lingered by injured, and Kyle Long only played in eight games.
Others will state that Howard is only a rookie, so his stats might not be replicated next year. If that’s the case, then how come Ezekiel Elliott will (presumably) be high on the NFL Top 100? Sure, he had a fantastic season, but so did Howard. If anything, Howard deserves to be nearly as high as Elliott.
Regardless of whatever arguments I make, Jordan Howard won’t be in the NFL Top 100. It took an injury to David Johnson for Howard to even make the Pro Bowl. For someone who lit up the league like he did, he has been flying under the radar like crazy. If anything, it will only serve as motivation for him in the 2017 season.
– Jacob Infante is a National Editor for cover32 and also covers the Chicago Bears. He can be followed on Twitter @jacobinfante24.