Peppers ranked as the 20th most productive pass rusher


Peppers ranked as the 20th most productive pass rusher

Seven-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro defensive lineman Julius Peppers has long been considered one of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL. At 6-foot-7, 290 pounds, it's no surprise the 32-year-old Peppers has tallied 100 career sacks in his 11-year career.
But how productive of a pass rusher has Peppers been the last three years, two of which came with the Bears?
The raw numbers show 29.5 sacks in 48 games, and the experts at Pro Football Focus analyzed the top pass rushers in the game to see who had produced most efficiently.
The first number that jumps out is Peppers' ability to play on most down in almost every game. He has missed just six games in his career, and has not missed a game since 2007. According to PFF, Peppers has rushed the passer 1,480 times in the last three years, which ranks second in the NFL to only Minnesota's Jared Allen (1,638). The number is made even more impressive when considering how often Peppers drops into coverage for a 4-3 defensive lineman, although some of the names on the list are 3-4 outside linebackers.
In terms of total pressure, which PFF defines as "the total combined number of sacks, hits and hurries," Peppers comes in at No. 7 with 180 pressures of the quarterback. Leading the way was Dallas Cowboys' 3-4 OLB DeMarcus Ware with 227 pressures. Allen tied for fourth with 195 pressures, while Green Bay's Clay Matthews checked in at No. 9 with 172 pressures.
PFF's most revealing number, however, is its "Pass Rushing Productivity" ranking. The ranking takes into account quarterback sacks, quarterback hits and quarterback hurries, with hits and hurries being equivalent to 75 percent of a sack.
Here, Peppers' 9.63 mark ranks 20th in the NFL, with Allen slightly ahead at 9.68. Matthews' 11.4 rating is 11th of all pass rushers, while Miami's Cameron Wake had an NFL-best 13.32 rating.
It's worth noting these numbers are exactly that: just numbers. Peppers' impressive pass rush totals (where he ranks second) are invaluable, and his number of sacks, hits and hurries (ranked seventh) still can't take into account how teams may have game-planned around him, how double teams against him free up interior rushers or what he does against the run and in pass coverage.
Where would you rank Julius Peppers as a pass rusher in the NFL? Top-3? 5? 10?

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Bulls-76ers

The Bulls square off against the Sixers tonight on NBC Sports Chicago, with coverage beginning at 6:30 with Bulls Pregame Live. Here are three things to watch as the Bulls begin the stretch run of their regular season.

1. The new rotation: Most of the Bulls’ rotation looks the same, but the addition of David Nwaba, Cristiano Felicio and Cameron Payne will have a different feel. The Bulls clearly want to get a look at these guys before the end of the regular season, meaning they’re not just going to get sporadic minutes. They’ll have to play through their mistakes, play out-matched at times and be put in uncomfortable situations. But the Bulls need to see what they have, especially in Payne, who has missed the entire season to this point with a broken foot.

2. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons: They’re quite the 1-2 punch and have the Sixers looking at their first playoff appearance since Derrick Rose hadn’t yet torn an ACL. Yeah, that’s a long time. Embiid just finished his first All-Star appearance (starting in his second year) and Simmons is the front runner for Rookie of the Year. The Bulls will have their hands full with these two. Luckily…

3. Kris Dunn is back: The Bulls wanted to get Dunn some run before heading to All-Star Weekend to play in the Rising Stars Challenge, and he looked healthy in that thumping against the Raptors last week. The good news is John Paxson says Dunn won’t be on a minutes limit, which means he’s healthy. That, of course, is more important than how he’s playing. It’ll be fun to see him, LaVine and Markkanen play together down the stretch. Their numbers together aren’t great, but the Bulls are 2-2 with all three in the lineup, and tanking or not…it’s more fun to watch when those three are rolling. 

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."