Matt Nagy: Jordan Howard still 'big part of this offense'

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears coach Matt Nagy stressed on Monday that he still envisions running back Jordan Howard being a key contributor on offense, even though Howard has carried the ball 15 times or fewer in three of their first four games.

"Jordan Howard is a big part of this offense, and I think that for us to continue to keep trying to grow, everybody in this offense has a role," Nagy said following the Bears' bye week. "This is not going to be an offense where it’s just one person and it goes through one person. I don’t necessarily believe in that. It’s great when you have everybody fulfilling different roles, and it’s hard for the defense when you do that."

Drafted by the Bears in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL draft, Howard set the franchise rookie rushing record that year with 1,313 yards and became the second-youngest Bears running back to eclipse 1,000 yards in a season.

Last year, Howard ran for 1,122 yards and nine touchdowns.

But Howard has yet to rush for more than 82 yards in a game this season.

He played only 33 of 61 offensive snaps (54 percent) and had just 11 rushing attempts for 25 yards in Chicago’s lopsided 48-10 Week 4 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Unlike the past two seasons, the Bears are deep at the skill positions, having added wide receivers Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller and tight end Trey Burton in the offseason.

Second-year all-purpose back Tarik Cohen, who starred as a rookie last season alongside Howard, led Chicago with 13 carries out of the backfield against the Bucs.

But Howard, who left the locker room after the Buccaneers game without speaking to reporters, insisted Monday that everything is fine.

"With a game like that, you don’t have anything to complain about," Howard said. "You just got be happy about a win.

"No, I wasn’t frustrated. I was happy. We won. You see how much we won by. So there’s not really nothing to complain about."

The Bears will try to get Howard going against the Miami Dolphins (3-2) on Sunday. Through five games, Miami’s defense is ranked 20th against the run (109.0) and 21st overall in total yardage (382.6).

"Jordan understands what we’re trying to do as a team," Nagy said. "And he also understands, and we’ve talked, that he is a major part of this offense. He has a big-time role. But if it’s an advantage to us to go a different direction for that game or for that play or that series, we’re going to do that. As long as our guys understand that, we’ll be in good shape. And Jordan is good with that. He understands it."