Today, I received a nice email reminding me that there are 69 days until the fantasy football season begins.
We’ve made it through June, meaning when we open up with tomorrow’s Bullets, we will be setting foot in the month in which training camp begins. But first, let’s get through today … starting with our Friday Bullets:
- Jordan Howard will be the most highly sought after Bears player this fantasy season, and with good reason. He finished second in the NFL in rushing yards, had a higher per carry average than Ezekiel Elliott, and is the primary source of offense on a unit that otherwise leaves much to be desired. Having a top-five offensive line helps, of course. Zoltan Buday of Pro Football Focus highlights how productive the Bears were on outside zone run concepts. While most offensive lines struggle with this concept, evidenced by a league average of 3.84 rushing yards per attempt, the Bears thrived with a 5.05 yards per carry average and 2.08 yards before contact that was was the fourth highest in the NFL. I’ll be curious to see if the team can replicate that under new offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn.
- Among the players who will be clearing the way for Howard’s runs is guard Josh Sitton, who is swapping spots with Kyle Long and moving to the right side in 2017. Over at CSN Chicago, Sitton tells Chris Boden that he sees some positive signs in rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky. While Sitton warns he is #NotAScout, he sees the mobility in and out of the pocket and the kind of arm strength you want to see out of a young quarterback. Sitton has a unique perspective as an offensive lineman, and should know a quality quarterback when he sees one. Aaron Rodgers was drafted by the Packers three years before the team took Sitton as a fourth-rounder in 2008 – which happens to be the first season in which Rodgers was the full-time starter.
- While Howard being the man on the offensive side of the ball is a thought that isn’t from outside-the-box, Chris Roling of Bleacher Report has seven bold Bears predictions as we enter the final days of June. Training camp starts later in July, and there will be several storylines to follow that could be headline grabbers. Will Akiem Hicks get his big payday from the Bears in the form of an extension? It sounded like he was interested in one earlier in June. Can Leonard Floyd stay healthy enough to produce the first of what will hopefully be many double-digit sack seasons? Which rookie(s) will provide a pleasant surprise or two on offense, defense, or special teams? There are plenty of questions, and players in line to answer them with their play on the field.
- Over at Scout.com’s Bear Report, Jeremy Stoltz writes about defensive lineman John Jenkins – a player who finds himself under-the-radar as training camp looms. Jenkins signed with the Bears in the offseason and came with a relatively low profile. The Bears’ defensive struggled to stop the run last year, thanks in part to injuries and inconsistency last season. That makes Jenkins’ signing important as he represents an experienced depth piece for a group that needed it after last season. Eddie Goldman is a key cog in the Bears’ rush defense, but he has missed time due to injury in each of his first two seasons, making Jenkins’ addition all that more notable.
- The Athletic’s Dan Pompei sat down with former Chicago Bears wide receiver and current ESPN 1000 radio personality Tom Waddle to discuss a variety of Bears related topics. I would encourage you to read the full piece over at The Athletic Chicago to get a complete grasp of a pretty informative interview between Pompei and Waddle. Among the hottest topics, Waddle set forth to explain why the Jay Cutler era didn’t really take off in Chicago. Waddle noted several factors including the lack of weapons and “shoddy” protection from the offensive line. Nothing sums up Cutler’s time in Chicago like when Waddle said, “The best way I can describe is the production never intersected with the potential.” Spot. On.
- Would you be interested in seeing professional football take to China? Daniel Kaplan of the Sports Business Journal reports the NFL has its eyes set on playing a game in China in 2019, pushing back on its original target date of 2018. So while New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has said he wants to play a game in China, he’ll have to hold on for a few more years.
- The Raiders are starting to show themselves to be a model franchise for rebuilding teams. First, they draft and develop Derek Carr. Then they sign him to a multi-million dollar long-term extension. And they have followed that up by extending some of the core pieces around him by giving guard Gabe Jackson a nice raise, something Carr is clearly happy about:
The #Raiders are signing G Gabe Jackson to a 5-year extension worth a whopping $56 million, source said. Locking up their future.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 29, 2017
— Derek Carr (@derekcarrqb) June 29, 2017