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Film Study: Why didn’t Jordan Howard get more carries in Detroit?

Bears RB Jordan Howard had only 13 carries on Sunday. (AP)

Thoughts and observations after watching the film of the Bears’ 20-17 loss against the Lions.

Running the rook

Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains is under fire after rookie running back Jordan Howard got only 13 carries and gained 86 yards.

But stats can be misleading. Howard’s vision and burst stood out on his 28- and 31-yard runs, but his success was very limited on other carries.

With obvious matchup advantages in coverage, the Lions sold out to stop Howard. He had carries that went for minus-2, one, minus-2, minus-3 and one yards. Overall, the line struggled against the Lions.

Minus the long two runs, Howard had 27 yards on 11 carries. A seven-yard gain on a draw that concluded the first half also inflated his production.

That doesn’t mean the Bears should abandon the run. The Lions’ emphasis on stopping Howard allowed quarterback Matt Barkley to complete passes of 24, 23 and 19 yards off play fakes that left defenders chasing.

But certain game situations also made running problematic.

In the first quarter, the Bears’ had second-and-5 at the Lions’ 10, but a false start by right guard Ted Larsen and then a delay of game by quarterback Matt Barkley made it second-and-15.

On the Bears’ first drive of the second half, a holding penalty by left guard Josh Sitton negated a 14-yard run by Howard, but Sitton’s hold on linebacker DeAndre Levy sprung it.

“The other team practices and gets paid too,” coach John Fox said. “I haven’t been in too many games where every run is a 30-yard gain. It’s about execution.”

Some criticism is warranted, though.

The Bears want to rotate backs, but the insertion of Jeremy Langford for 20 plays didn’t provide much to the offense.

Lions ran well

The Lions’ running backs received seven more carries in the second half than the first (15-8). It included nine carries in the third quarter.

The Lions committed to the run because quarterback Matthew Stafford’s injured right middle finger was a hindrance.

Asked afterward if his finger affected his grip and throwing velocity, Stafford replied, “All of the above.”

With Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman out with an ankle injury, the Lions controlled the line of scrimmage and time of possession. The Bears’ play count on offense was limited.

Missing Jeffery

There were three plays where receiver Alshon Jeffery was missed, and all three involved Josh Bellamy:

* On third-and-10 early in the second quarter, Bellamy couldn’t bring in a contested jump ball against cornerback Darius Slay.

* On third-and-4 late in the third, Bellamy failed to get both feet in bounds on a good throw by Barkley down the left sideline. A 29-yard gain was lost.

* On the final play of the game, Bellamy dropped another contested catch as Barkley’s pass hit him in the shoulder.