The general consensus around the NFL is that Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliot has the best case for the Rookie of the Year Award. However, Bears fans are quite aware that Jordan Howard is having an outstanding rookie year, too. He has been quietly putting up numbers very similar to Elliot’s since he was promoted to starter. Most football fans would laugh if you told them that Jordan Howard is going to be Rookie of the Year. To almost everyone outside of Illinois (and Indiana), Ezekiel Elliot ran away with the award a long time ago.
When you compare the statistics, it’s clear just how alike these two young men are. Both are tied for 4th in yards per attempt at 5.0. Howard’s longest run is 69 yards, while Elliot’s is 60. Jordan averages 10.3 yards per reception, while Zeke averages 11.3. Howard has 4 runs of 20+ yards, Elliot has 3. You get the picture. Their statistics are remarkably similar. If Howard would have started week 1, we might be looking at a different rushing leader this season. Still, though, ranking 2nd among all NFL rookies is quite an accomplishment.
Since the Cowboys have been starting Elliot all season, it’s no surprise that he is leading in some statistics. However, the season is not over. There is still a lot of football left to play. Who knows? Maybe Zeke gets injured or has a lull in his performance. Maybe Howard sets rookie records in his last few games. It may sound crazy to some people, but as far as I’m concerned, Jordan Howard may have an opportunity to earn Rookie of the Year.
It’s possible that Howard could surpass Elliot in many statistics, but then there’s another issue. The spotlight is on the Dallas Cowboys and their rookie backfield, while the Chicago Bears are far from the center of attention. I hate to admit it, but I do believe this plays a part in the selection of the NFL awards. If you took these two players’ statistics and swapped them, Elliot would probably still have a much better shot at ROTY than Howard does now. It’s a part of being a sub-500 team. The stars on the losing teams have to do much more to get noticed than the stars of the playoff teams. Is it fair? No. Is it going to change? Probably not. Whether or not Howard wins the Rookie of the Year Award, he still deserves much more recognition than he is getting now.