Cubs

Peppers ranked as the 20th most productive pass rusher

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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?

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jon Lester struggles against the division-rival Cardinals

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Jon Lester struggles against the division-rival Cardinals

It was a tough day for the North Siders.

The Cubs got obliterated by the Cardinals as Matt Carpenter had a three-homer, two-double day. Ben Finfer, Seth Gruen and Maggie Hendricks join David Kaplan on the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast to talk about the blowout.

Was Jon Lester due for this kind of terrible outing? And do the Cubs have enough to swing a big trade before the deadline?

Plus, the panel discusses Matt Nagy’s first training camp practice in the rain and Roquan Smith’s absence in Bourbonnais.

You can listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Could Bears improve and still lose ground? The MMQB's Albert Breer weighs in on tough NFC North

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USA TODAY

Could Bears improve and still lose ground? The MMQB's Albert Breer weighs in on tough NFC North

NBC Sports Chicago’s John "Moon" Mullin talked with The MMQB's Albert Breer, who shared his thoughts on where the Bears stand — and if they’ll be able to compete — in a highly competitive NFC North.

Moon: The Bears have made upgrades, but they’re in the NFC North and not many divisions are tougher, given the strength at quarterbacks.

Breer: Yes. You look at the other three teams, and they all very much believe they’re in a window for winning a championship. The Packers are going through some changes, but they’ve gotten Mike Pettine in there as defensive coordinator and a new general manager who was aggressive on draft day. I know that internally they feel that’s going to give them a boost, and bringing Aaron Rodgers back obviously is the biggest thing of all.

Minnesota, all the things they did this offseason, signing (quarterback) Kirk Cousins, (defensive lineman) Sheldon Richardson, and they were knocking on the door last year.

The Lions have been building for two years under (general manager) Bob Quinn and (new coach) Matt Patricia, who lines right up with the general manager — the two of them worked together in New England. They really believe that Matthew Stafford is ready to take the sort of jump that Matt Ryan made in Atlanta a few years ago, where you see that mid-career breakthrough from a quarterback that we see sometimes now.

It’s one of the toughest divisions in football, and every team in the division believes that it’s in the position to contend right now.

Moon: We didn’t see a lot of Mitch Trubisky — 12 games — so it sounds possible that the Bears could improve and still lose ground.

Breer: The Lions were pretty good last year. The Vikings were in the NFC Championship game. And who knows where the Packers would’ve been if Rodgers hadn’t broken his collarbone. The biggest change is that Aaron Rodgers will be back, and that’s the best player in the league. It was a really good division last year, and you’re adding back in a Hall of Fame quarterback.

As far as the Bears, there’s going to be questions where the organization is going. It’s been seven years since they were in the playoffs. I think they certainly got the coach hire right. This is a guy who I know other organizations liked quite a bit and was going to be a head coach sooner or later.

And I think he matches up well with Mitch. I think the Bears are in a good spot, but as you said, they’re competing in a difficult environment, so it may not show up in their record.

Moon: A lot of love for the Vikings after they get to the NFC Championship and then add Kirk Cousins.

Breer: A lot of people look at Minnesota and think Kirk Cousins’ll be a huge improvement. And maybe he will be. I think he’s a very good quarterback, top dozen in the league. But Case Keenum played really, really well last year, so it wasn’t like they weren’t getting anything out of that position last year.

The NFC right now is clearly the strength of the league. If you picked the top 10 teams in the league, you could make a case that seven or eight of them are in the NFC. I think there will be NFC teams that miss the playoffs who could be in the Super Bowl coming out of the AFC. There’s a little bit of an imbalance there.

Moon: Trubisky projects as part of a wave of new quarterbacks league-wide, a sea change in the NFL.

Breer: The interesting thing is that this is probably as stable as the league has been at quarterback in a long time. There’ve been questions where the next great quarterbacks will come from, but I don’t know that there’s a team right now in the NFL like you looked at the Jets or Browns last year, where you say that team is definitely drafting a quarterback in 2019.

Everyone either has a big-money veteran or former first-round pick on their roster. One team that doesn’t is the Cowboys, but they’ve got Dak Prescott who’s played really well. Every team in the league has some stability at the position. I think the position is as healthy as it’s been in a long time, and you’ve got a lot of good young prospects.