Hub Arkush: Bears can win now if they focus on Howard
LAKE FOREST – Most NFL teams that have MVP candidates on both sides of the ball end up in the playoffs and quite often earn a trip to a Super Bowl.
It has been forever and a day since the Bears fit that bill, but that worm may be about to turn.
The 2006 Bears had MVP and future Hall Of Famer Brian Urlacher on defense, but the offense was lacking.
Yes, there was All Pro center Olin Kreutz and Devin Hester, who belongs in the Hall of Fame, but Hester was a special teams guy with limited touches of the football, and centers rarely, actually never drive offenses.
The ’85 Bears, of course, had Walter Payton and Jimbo Covert on offense, along with Dan Hampton, Richard Dent, Wilber Marshall and Gary Fencik on defense.
We know how great that team was, and that was the last time the Bears truly had dominant players on both sides of the ball.
This 2018 Bears team is highly unlikely to be in Atlanta next February and still a real long shot to make the playoffs.
But in spite of the pain that came with the loss, what we learned Sunday night in Green Bay is that this team may just have MVP candidates on both sides of the ball, it clearly has more potential Pro Bowlers than we’ve seen in Chicago in quite some time, and the talent level has been raised significantly over anything we’ve seen since the 2010 team that dropped the NFC title game to the Packers.
Khalil Mack is more than an MVP candidate on defense, he is fully minted having already won the award two seasons ago.
He may not be alone. Considering what is possible from their respective positions, I’m not sure Akiem Hicks didn’t have every bit as good a first half as Mack, and clearly he helped to make some of what Mack did possible.
There’s one more guy we really need to keep an eye on now, too.
While Eddie Goldman got rich last week and played a very good first half against the Packers, when you watch the tape it is Roy Robertson-Harris who really jumps off the screen at you.
I’m fine with taking the risk of being terribly premature in telling you that I think the Bears have another potential double-digit sack guy in Roy Robertson-Harris that we never even considered until now.
It’s all so exciting I’m now late in getting to my main point.
I’m not sure how much more Jordan Howard has to do to prove he is a guy you can build an offense around and win games with right now, but he is.
Other than Kyle Long, who had a couple of plays against the Pack that only he can make, the offensive line was basically average Sunday night with some good and some bad.
Most of what Howard did with his 82 rushing yards and 5.5 yards a carry average he did on his own.
And while we were being reminded that Mitch Trubisky just isn’t ready yet, Howard was carrying on like a natural pass-catcher – something he’s not supposed to be able to do – and snaring everything thrown at him.
The reason no one has been willing to go all in with the Kudos for Howard, in spite of his being the only back in Bears history to gain 1,000 yards in his first two seasons, is that almost nothing looked good in Dowell Loggains offense, and he never featured all this kid can do.
We got just a taste of it Sunday night, and I know Matt Nagy saw it, and I suspect Nagy might agree with me, the Bears could have won that game if he’d focused more on Howard in the second half.
If Nagy focuses his offense around Howard and not Trubisky on Monday, at least for now, and then tacks on all his bells and whistles, just like he did with Kareem Hunt last year in Kansas City, this team just might be well ahead of schedule, and we’ll all see why Howard deserves that seat right next to Mack at the front of the bus.