If Jordan Howard has his way, his rise from fifth-round pick, to third-string running back, to the NFL’s second-leading rusher would just be the start of something special.
Because it’s never too early to set goals, Howard recently revealed a list of accomplishments he wanted to reach in 2017. Among them are leading the Bears to the playoffs and leading the league in rushing.
If Howard leads the league in rushing in 2017, it could help spring Chicago to its first postseason appearance since 2010. Howard (1,313 yards) finished second behind Ezekiel Elliott (1,631) in rushing yards, though, Howard received 70 fewer carries than Elliott did in 2016.
Some of Howard’s goals (primarily, his postseason aspirations) seem far-fetched, but if he has more of a say in how the offense performs in 2017 by virtue of receiving more carries, then the team has a better shot at the postseason than it would with a rookie quarterback throwing it more than 30 times per game.
As for the rest of today’s Bullets …
- Michael Fabiano of NFL.com has Howard ranked as the sixth best running back and 10th best player in his very early look at the top 200 fantasy players for 2017. After gaining 1,000-yards and averaging 5.2 yards per carry, Howard still has room to grow as a fantasy player if he can get more carries (especially inside the 20) and become more proficient as a pass catcher. Howard won’t sneak up on anyone in 2017, so be prepared to use a late first-round pick on him if that’s the route you want to take.
- Alshon Jeffery is the only other Bears player among the top-100 of the list – and his future with the Bears is rather uncertain at this stage. Jeffery checks in at 32, and could be a value at that spot depending on where he ends up, and who his quarterback is when the 2017 season kicks off. Jeffery could see a boost in production if he becomes a No. 1 option for a team with a steady quarterback situation. After Howard and Jeffery, the next Bear listed in the top-200 is wide receiver Kevin White.
- The Bears are expected to hire Derius Swinton as a special teams assistant, according to Brad Biggs. Swinton is replacing Richard Hightower, who departed to become the special teams coordinator in San Francisco under new head coach Kyle Shanahan. Swinton was the 49ers special teams coordinator in 2016. Swinton’s addition makes him the latest ex-49ers assistant to land on John Fox’s staff and marks his return to Chicago. Swinton left the Bears after the 2015 season after serving as an assistant for Fox and predecessor Marc Trestman.
- The Bears are stepping out to attract the youngest fans. Lewis Lazare of the Chicago Business Journal writes about the team’s introduction to the Chicago Bears Crib Club, which encourages parents, grandparents, and others to pass down their fandom to children who are 5 or younger. Perks include a digital letter, year-round discounts at the Bears Pro Shop, and more. It’s the latest attempt at grabbing the attention and interest during an organization rut in which the team hasn’t had a winning season since 2012 or a postseason appearance since 2010.