The drums were pounded for Jordan Howard to be more involved on offense, and the Eagles certainly heard the calls — Howard was one of the most impactful players during Thursday night’s win. When he’s at his best, Howard is capable of bringing the Eagles offense to new levels.

Howard was brought to Philadelphia from Chicago in exchange for a conditional sixth-round pick, but the hype surrounding the move dissolved fairly quickly. While rookie running back Miles Sanders, who the Eagles used a second-round pick on after acquiring Howard, was the talk of the team before the start of the season, Howard quickly became the guy who was getting overlooked, undeservedly so.

Even prior to the season, some were already deeming Sanders the teams best running back, and while that may eventually pan out to be the truth, Howard’s track record in the NFL has put him in some elite territory that can’t be forgotten. Howard is just one of three running back’s to average at least 1,000 scrimmage yards per season over the last three seasons, with just Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliot doing the same.

There was also the talk of both Howard being a rental in Philadelphia, and possibly even being a trade piece for Melvin Gordon, though that was quickly discredited. However, the first part of that statement may be true — Howard is on the final year of his rookie contract, and considering the Eagles took Sanders so high in the draft, which they hadn’t done since they selected LeSean McCoy in round 2 of the 2009 NFL Draft, that scenario seemed plausible.

During Thursday night’s win in Green Bay, though, Howard made a great case to start potentially changing that possibility.

Howard rushed 15 times for 87 yards and 2 touchdowns and added 3 receptions for 28 yards and a touchdown. All of those numbers are season-highs in the early weeks of Howard’s tenure in Philadelphia.

This performance was also a drastic step-up from what was seen from Howard in the first three games of the season. During that period, Howard totaled 28 touches for 118 yards and a touchdown. Just Thursday night, Howard had 18 touches for 115 yards and 3 touchdowns. Howard showed flashes of what he was capable of doing before this week, but hadn’t been able to consistently perform at such a high level, and wasn’t getting enough touches to do so.

What was seen from Howard was a full realization of what he did in the first game of the season against Washington. Howard had 6 carries for 44 yards, which mostly came in the second half, and it was the first true sign that Howard needed more touches.

Sanders was no pushover Thursday night, either. Sanders had 11 carries for 72 yards and also provided a big boost on special teams, returning 2 kicks for 77 yards. It was a great performance for the rookie as well, and the Eagles will need it going forward, but Howard provides something that Sanders doesn’t yet possess.

Howard is among the leagues most powerful runners, with his 6′ and 224-pound frame giving him plenty of size to get the tough yards when needed. That size was put to good use against Green Bay, as well, on Howard’s two-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter, when he was hit right at the line of scrimmage and still had the power to roll over for the score and give the Eagles a 34-27 lead. It was a vintage Howard play, and it was the game-winner in what was very close to being a must-win game.

Howard’s running is reminiscent of what the Eagles had two years ago with LeGarrette Blount. Even with Blount, though, Howard is already proving to potentially be the better fit and more effective player. Last night, Howard already surpassed Blount for total touchdowns as an Eagle in the regular season, and we’re just four games into the 2019 season. Howard also provides a bit of an improved receiving capability from what Blount had. In 2017, Blount had 8 receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown. This season, Howard already has three-quarters of the receptions just a quarter of a way through the season, for just one less yard and a touchdown.

The play of Sanders and Howard, with the latter being the most important, also allowed Carson Wentz to play comfortably and efficiently all game long, with him being left at little risk throughout the game.

Wentz was 16/27 for 160 yards and 3 touchdowns. Those 16 completions were the fifth-least Wentz has had in a game, and his 160 yards were the fourth-least he’s ever had. Yet, Wentz threw 3 touchdowns for the 11th time in his NFL career and had a 113.2 passer rating. It was a wildly efficient, and yet somewhat easy performance for Wentz, and that largely can be attributed to how effective the running game was.

Howard’s ability to truly provide the thunder as a running back, something the Eagles have rarely had, gives the offense a chance to truly be among the most difficult to defend against. A true test is awaiting the Eagles run game next Sunday, with Howard surely set to lead the backfield.

The Eagles will face the New York Jets, who currently are allowing just 88.7 rushing yards per game, which is the 9th-least in the league. To make matters more difficult, the Jets are confident they’ll be getting both CJ Mosley and Quinnen Williams back from injury in time to face the Eagles.

For now, the Eagles can sit confidently knowing that not only their running game finally got going, but that it looked even better than they expected it to prior to the season. Consistency will be important for that part of the offense, and Howard is the one who can make sure that’s the case.

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