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Jimmy Butler's strengths and weaknesses

(Repost, edited some parts!)
Definitions and Terms I'll be using:
FULL LIST + EXPLANATIONS ON IMGUR: per 75, TS%, rTS%, ORTG, rORTG, PnR, PPP, AST%, Backpicks Passer Rating, Box Creation, PIPM, BPM, RAPTOR, RPM.
Name:

Jimmy Butler | "Jimmy G. Buckets"

In a nutshell: 30 y/o, Miami Heat SF/PF, 6-7, 230lb, All-NBA Candidate
2020 regular-season stats: 19.9/6.7/6.0/1.8/0.6 with 2.2 TOVs on 45.5/24.4/83.4 shooting splits (58.5 TS%), 58 games played
2020 postseason stats: 22.0/4.7/4.0/2.5/0.8 with 3.3 TOVs on 46.8/54.5/85.7 shooting splits (63.0 TS%), 6 games played
Nerd stats: 25.1% Usage, +6.4 On/Off, +3.54 PIPM (16th) , +6.1 RAPTOR (10th) , +4.1 BPM (Backpicks) (13th) , +5.4 BPM (BBRef) (9th) , +3.08 RPM (23rd) , +2.21 Luck-Adjusted RAPM (12th)

🟢 The Good:

  • 🟢 Efficient volume-scorer; "Jimmy G. Buckets, The 'G' stands for 'Gets'": 21.6 Points/75 on 58.5 TS% (+2.0 rTS%) in the regular-season, 23.8 Points/75 on 63.0 TS% (+5.7 rTS%) in the playoffs thus far
Butler finished the regular-season as Miami's leading scorer. He's highly resourceful at racking up points, utilising strength, speed, craft, handles, and deft touch in the paint to compensate for a jumper that deserts him on occasion. Per Basketball Index, Butler is in the 95th-percentile at off-ball movement and finishing among wings, and in the 93rd percentile for post-scoring.
Jimmy Buckets's scoring-breakdown by zone in the 2019-20 regular-season: (per stats.nba.com)
    • 38% of his shot attempts come in the restricted area, where he's finishing at an above-average rate for forwards (64 FG%)
    • 24% of his shot attempts come in the non-restricted area of the paint (a.k.a. "floater range"), where he's also scoring at above-average rate (43.4 FG%)
    • 22% of his shot attempts come from the midrange, where he's unfortunately shot at the 2nd-worst rate in the league (31.7 FG%)
    • 16% of his shot attempts come from 3, where he's shooting at the worst rate in the league (24.8 FG%)
Jimmy uses his strength/speed/footwork combination to bulldoze or finesse his way to the rim and finish through contact, capable of athletic finishes through multiple defenders. When in the post/paint, Jimmy utilises hesitation moves and jab steps effectively, has an effective handle, excellent at keeping defenders on his hips before exploding forward and finishing either at the rim or a bit further out, with a nice little floater off two feet to finish over shotblockers. Butler is also highly physical, using his body to create space - he dips his shoulders on drives, throwing his momentum into his defender's body; he doesn't lack craft, however, using ball fakes and spins a lot (he even throws a spin-fake in there sometimes!).
To quote the great Evin Gualberto:
(Butler's) foundation is his phenomenal footwork. He’s got the poise and patience to pivot and pump, and twist, and then rip through and power to the paint. He can use his force or finish with finesse; he’ll go any way he needs in order to get to the basket, whether that’s under the defender, over, around, or even through them. He’s got the ability to hit from distance, his post game is pretty with the pristine pivoting he does, but he can also go full bully ball. Speaking of, he’s an absolute bull when he wants to get to the rim. He can score any kind of way, so as a defense, all you have to do is make him take the toughest shot possible…the only problem is, yeah, he can make those with worryingly regularity as well. He is Jimmy G Buckets after all, the G stands for gets.
In previous years, Jimmy has been a decent 3-point-shooter (36 3P% in the previous 3 seasons, on 3.2 3PA/game) and has generally shot in the high 30s from midrange, which isn't fantastic but is still a value-add to his versatility as a scorer.
In the playoffs thus far, however, Butler has been money on his jumpshots, connecting on over half his threes (though on low volume - 1.8 3PA/game) and 42% of his midrange shots (again, low volume - 12 midrange attempts) so far.
As an overall scorer, Jimmy is:
    • A hyper-competent and -active cutter (8% of his possessions, 97th percentile efficiency)
    • Fantastic in transition (12% of his possessions, 92nd percentile efficiency)
    • A competent post-operator (7% of his possessions, 80th percentile efficiency)
    • A passable PnR finisher (36% of his possessions, 56th percentile efficiency)
    • Solid in isolation situations, likely buoyed by his very good rim-finishing (10% of his possessions, 68th percentile)
    • Below-average scoring from spot-up scenerios and handoffs
Despite his jumpshot having deserted him in the regular season, Jimmy ekes out efficient scoring options via drawing fouls and very solid rim-finishing in transition, isolation, and by cutting often and decisively. To quote Zach Lowe:
(Butler) can blend into a broader offensive system as a shoulder-checking cutter, and supersede that system when the situation requires.
Accordingly, 41% of Butler's buckets are assisted, a very solid rate for a primary ball-handler who had a non-existent jumpshot during the regular-season, that showcases his off-ball activity as a ferocious cutter.
  • 🟢 Free-throw rate that would make Shaq blush
Jimmy Butler's foul-drawing rate this season has been, to put it mildly, something of an outlier.
Butler is 29th in the NBA in Points/game (19.9), but 5th in the NBA in FTA/game (9.1), and just to emphasize how absurdly often Butler's been finding his way to the line relative to his total shot attempts, here's a fun little table comparing Butler's FTA/game and Points/Game to the league's other elite free-throw-attempters: [TABLE].
To try and add even more context, Free Throw Rate (FTr) is a very simple statistic that gives the ratio of free-throw attempts to field-goal attempts.
Just to ballpark the sort of numbers we expect from high-volume free-throw shooters: famed foul-shot-aficionado James Harden's FTr this season is 0.528, meaning that he averages 0.528 free-throw attempts for every field-goal that he takes. (The Beard's career-high was 0.592, set in 2013.) Paint-destroyer Giannis Antetokounmpo has a FTr of 0.508 this year, and low-post monster Joel Embiid has a FTr of 0.543. A pretty dominant fella who went by the name of Shaquille had a career-average FTr of 0.578, averaging an incredible 0.653 in a 5-year span from 2001 to 2005.
Now, keeping all of this in mind ... Miami Heat All-Star wing Jimmy Butler's Free-Throw Rate, in the 2019-20 season, is 0.693.
(If you're wondering, Butler has more than managed to maintain this in the playoffs too -- after 6 games, Jimmy is 2nd in the entire playoffs in Free-Throw Rate, posting a ludicrous 0.810 FTr. Small sample size, obviously, but wow.)
  • 🟢 Good playmaker
First, some numbers: 6.0 Assists/Game, 7.5 Passer Rating, 7.4 Box Creation. Miami have a fairly strong offense (+1.9 rORTG, 6th) which improves by +4.1 points with Butler on the court. Per Basketball Index, Jimmy is in the 91st percentile for playmaking among wings.
For a few seasons now, Jimmy has been a very solid passer and playmaker. Mimicking another former well-known Chicago wing who went by the name of Michael, Jimmy is a low-turnover player (career 1.5 TOV/game; this season: 2.2 TOV/Game, excellent 2.73 AST/TOV ratio). He is a decisive and relatively low-error ball-handler and shot-creator, hitting bigs and shooters well off PnDHO-action. Butler manipulates defenders with his eyes to unlock shots for teammates, and is also adept at punishing help defenders who have to react to his bruising drives to the rim by kicking to shooters and dropping it off to cutters. He's developed especially good chemistry with Bam (25% of Butler's 6.0 AST/game go to Adebayo), Duncan Robinson (who receives 17% of Butler's assists), and rookie Kendrick Nunn (18%).
Some clips of Jimmy's playmaking: (Source: stats.nba.com)
  • 🟢 Excellent defender
Jimmy at his peak is easily an all-league defensive talent, with tremendous instincts and effort on D, generally remaining incredibly active on that end both on- and off-the-ball. Miami's 12th-ranked defense (-1.0 rDRTG) improves by 1.0 points with Butler on the floor. Butler’s defensive awareness is top-tier, as is his lateral quickness - he's comfortable chasing speedy guards around the court; Jimmy is also uber-switchable for his size, guarding positions 1-4 at least 18% of the time each, and guarding centers for 10% of his possessions, when switched onto bigs in Miami small-ball lineups. Jimmy is in the 82nd percentile of post defenders, fantastic given his position, and players shoot a whopping 4.4% worse on 3s when Butler's the closest defender, demonstrating his defensive engagement and closeout-speed. Butler is a very physical defender as well, often "bodying-up" larger players the post, Marcus Smart-style, crowding their space and making scoring uncomfortable.
To again quote Evin:
(Butler's) ability to stand up powerful post-up players, coupled with the quickness to stick with the shiftiest wings, and the instincts and IQ to know when to stay down and when to jump to contest, make him a dynamite defender... (he) frustrates opponents with foot speed and anticipating with active hands, he’ll blow up pick and rolls, or send his man one way only to remarkably beat him to that same spot. You’ll see jumping in passing lanes, but you’ll also just see him holding his ground a lot; in one, he even holds Melo off with one arm while grabbing the rebound with the other. His intelligence shines through when he avoids getting screened and when he forced ball handlers into help.
Butler is quite disruptive off-ball (7th in Deflections/Game, 7th in Steals/Game, 13th in Steal-%, 14th in loose-balls recovered/game), often jumping passing lanes or making crisp rotations to cut off offensive angles. He's also a plus-rebounder for his position, snagging almost seven boards a game; the Heat's defensive-rebound-% spikes by almost 3 percentage points with Butler on the court. He's generally very engaged on D, providing hard closeouts to shooters (players shoot almost 4.3% worse from 3 when Jimmy is the closest defender) and providing help when the primary Miami defender is beat. Along with Adebayo, Butler is one of the main reasons Miami's defense is still better than league-average even though many of their lineups prioritise shooting over defense (see: Robinson, Herro, Leonard, Olynyk).
Most defensive metrics (taken with a spoonful or two of salt, of course) think of Butler as a very solid positive on defense (+1.0 to +2.0); Basketball Index has Jimmy as the 4th-best Wing Stopper at Passing Lane Defense, and ranks him in the 90th percentile of perimeter defenders in the league overall. It also has him in the 71st percentile as a defensive rebounder, and in the 47th percentile as an interior defender.
Here are some clips of Jimmy's defense:

🔴 The Not-As-Good:

  • 🔴 Inconsistent jumpshot
Butler suffered the 7th-biggest drop in the league in perimeter shooting grade from last year to this year (per Basketball Index). Famously, he was the least efficient jump-shooter in the league by eFG% in the regular-season.
As mentioned, though, his jumpshot has been very respectable in the bubble for now, albeit on very low volume.
  • 🔴 Room for improvement in some areas of scoring
Namely: spot-up shooting, handoffs, and PnR scoring, all likely related to his regular-season shooting woes.
  • 🔴 Some areas of playmaking
From my very limited film study (~15 games), Jimmy doesn't seem to try advanced passes often (though that might be a Miami Heat scheme-related issue), rarely slingshoting cross-court skip-passes to corner shooters like LeBron/Luka/Trae do (please correct me if I'm wrong, Heat fans!). He can occasionally miss cutters while hunting for the kickout pass for 3. Butler's delivery can sometimes be a bit wild or inaccurate as well.
  • 🔴 Some areas of defense
Jimmy's activity does dial down on occasion. He also lacks size/strength/length to defend larger wings consistently, and his gambles can blow up on him at times too when he's springing passing lanes, with the player he's supposed to be guarding getting an open 3 or cutting to the rim as Butler isn't there to recover in time. Jimmy is also vulnerable to size at the rim - despite posting one of the best block rates in the league for a guard/forward, these are mostly on smaller players and he doesn't seem to influence shot attempts at the rim too much in general - opponents shoot almost 6% better within 6 feet of the hoop when Butler's the closest defender. It also appears that Butler's pick-and-roll defense may have some room for improvement as well (46th percentile in defending PnR ball-handlers), he may have trouble negotiating man and ball occasionally.
  • 🔴 A few regular-season clutch woes
Jimmy shot 45.1 TS% in the clutch this season, with a -10.4 individual clutch net rating, while Miami as a team were 24th in clutch net rating.
However, the team still broke even in the wins column (18-18) and had a 14-10 clutch record when Butler played.
In addition, I say "regular-season" for a reason (keep in mind the usual "low sample size" asterisk, of course): Miami have been the 4th-best clutch team in the playoffs by net rating, winning all 3 of their close games so far, while Jimmy himself is sporting a blistering hot 88.7 clutch TS% and +29.8 clutch net rating at the moment, with an absolutely scorching +137.5 clutch offensive rating.
  • 🔴 Few durability questions
Jimmy G. Buckets (the 'G.' stands for 'Gets') has played >67 games only twice in his 9-year career.
HOWEVER, he's been very available for the Heat this season, missing 'only' 11 games.
Indeed, Butler played heavy minutes in his last playoff run for Philadelphia (38mpg in 2nd round) as well, performing admirably in a razor-close loss to the eventual champion Raptors in the 2nd round (22/7/6 on 56ts%, +1.0rTS%, vs Toronto), very nearly pulling through a Sixers team otherwise starved of late-game offensive-creation into the Conference Finals.

That's it for today, thanks for reading!

(P.S. Here's Butler's playoff career-high 40-point performance against Milwaukee in Game 1 for your viewing pleasure: LINK.)
BONUS
heres some other things I've written (if you're interested in this sort of stuff or just wanna pass the time while waiting for the games to begin)-
submitted by KagsTheOneAndOnly to nbadiscussion [link] [comments]

[OC] I tried writing up a short Jimmy Butler player breakdown:

"short"
Definitions and Terms I'll be using:
FULL LIST + EXPLANATIONS ON IMGUR: per 75, TS%, rTS%, ORTG, rORTG, PnR, PPP, AST%, Backpicks Passer Rating, Box Creation, PIPM, BPM, RAPTOR, RPM.
Name:

Jimmy Butler | "Jimmy G. Buckets"

In a nutshell: 30 y/o, Miami Heat SF/PF, 6-7, 230lb, All-NBA Candidate
2020 regular-season stats: 19.9/6.7/6.0/1.8/0.6 with 2.2 TOVs on 45.5/24.4/83.4 shooting splits (58.5 TS%), 58 games played
2020 postseason stats: 22.0/4.7/4.0/2.5/0.8 with 3.3 TOVs on 46.8/54.5/85.7 shooting splits (63.0 TS%), 6 games played
Nerd stats: 25.1% Usage, +6.4 On/Off, +3.54 PIPM (16th) , +6.1 RAPTOR (10th) , +4.1 BPM (Backpicks) (13th) , +5.4 BPM (BBRef) (9th) , +3.08 RPM (23rd) , +2.21 Luck-Adjusted RAPM (12th)

🟢 The Good:

  • 🟢 Efficient volume-scorer; "Jimmy G. Buckets, The 'G' stands for 'Gets'": 21.6 Points/75 on 58.5 TS% (+2.0 rTS%) in the regular-season, 23.8 Points/75 on 63.0 TS% (+5.7 rTS%) in the playoffs thus far
Butler finished the regular-season as Miami's leading scorer. He's highly resourceful at racking up points, utilising strength, speed, craft, handles, and deft touch in the paint to compensate for a jumper that deserts him on occasion. Per Basketball Index, Butler is in the 95th-percentile at off-ball movement and finishing among wings, and in the 93rd percentile for post-scoring.
Jimmy Buckets's scoring-breakdown by zone in the 2019-20 regular-season: (per stats.nba.com)
    • 38% of his shot attempts come in the restricted area, where he's finishing at an above-average rate for forwards (64 FG%)
    • 24% of his shot attempts come in the non-restricted area of the paint (a.k.a. "floater range"), where he's also scoring at above-average rate (43.4 FG%)
    • 22% of his shot attempts come from the midrange, where he's unfortunately shot at the 2nd-worst rate in the league (31.7 FG%)
    • 16% of his shot attempts come from 3, where he's shooting at the worst rate in the league (24.8 FG%)
Jimmy uses his strength/speed/footwork combination to bulldoze or finesse his way to the rim and finish through contact, capable of athletic finishes through multiple defenders.
To quote the great Evin Gualberto:
(Butler's) foundation is his phenomenal footwork. He’s got the poise and patience to pivot and pump, and twist, and then rip through and power to the paint. He can use his force or finish with finesse; he’ll go any way he needs in order to get to the basket, whether that’s under the defender, over, around, or even through them. He’s got the ability to hit from distance, his post game is pretty with the pristine pivoting he does, but he can also go full bully ball. Speaking of, he’s an absolute bull when he wants to get to the rim. He can score any kind of way, so as a defense, all you have to do is make him take the toughest shot possible…the only problem is, yeah, he can make those with worryingly regularity as well. He is Jimmy G Buckets after all, the G stands for gets.
In previous years, Jimmy has been a decent 3-point-shooter (36 3P% in the previous 3 seasons, on 3.2 3PA/game) and has generally shot in the high 30s from midrange, which isn't fantastic but is still a value-add to his versatility as a scorer.
In the playoffs thus far, however, Butler has been money on his jumpshots, connecting on over half his threes (though on low volume - 1.8 3PA/game) and 42% of his midrange shots (again, low volume - 12 midrange attempts) so far.
As an overall scorer, Jimmy is:
    • A hyper-competent and -active cutter (8% of his possessions, 97th percentile efficiency)
    • Fantastic in transition (12% of his possessions, 92nd percentile efficiency)
    • A competent post-operator (7% of his possessions, 80th percentile efficiency)
    • A passable PnR finisher (36% of his possessions, 56th percentile efficiency)
    • Solid in isolation situations, likely buoyed by his very good rim-finishing (10% of his possessions, 68th percentile)
    • Below-average scoring from spot-up scenerios and handoffs
Despite his jumpshot having deserted him in the regular season, Jimmy ekes out efficient scoring options via drawing fouls and very solid rim-finishing in transition, isolation, and by cutting often and decisively. To quote Zach Lowe:
(Butler) can blend into a broader offensive system as a shoulder-checking cutter, and supersede that system when the situation requires.
Accordingly, 41% of Butler's buckets are assisted, an extremely solid rate for a primary ball-handler who had a non-existent jumpshot during the regular-season, that showcases his off-ball activity as a ferocious cutter.
  • 🟢 Free-throw rate that would make Shaq blush
Jimmy Butler's foul-drawing rate this season has been, to put it mildly, something of an outlier.
Butler is 29th in the NBA in Points/game (19.9), but 5th in the NBA in FTA/game (9.1), and just to emphasize how absurdly often Butler's been finding his way to the line relative to his total shot attempts, here's a fun little table comparing Butler's FTA/game and Points/Game to the league's other elite free-throw-attempters: [TABLE].
To try and add even more context, Free Throw Rate (FTr) is a very simple statistic that gives the ratio of free-throw attempts to field-goal attempts.
Just to ballpark the sort of numbers we expect from high-volume free-throw shooters: famed foul-shot-aficionado James Harden's FTr this season is 0.528, meaning that he averages 0.528 free-throw attempts for every field-goal that he takes. (The Beard's career-high was 0.592, set in 2013.) Paint-destroyer Giannis Antetokounmpo has a FTr of 0.508 this year, and low-post monster Joel Embiid has a FTr of 0.543. A pretty dominant fella who went by the name of Shaquille had a career-average FTr of 0.578, averaging an incredible 0.653 in a 5-year span from 2001 to 2005.
Now, keeping all of this in mind ... Miami Heat All-Star wing Jimmy Butler's Free-Throw Rate, in the 2019-20 season, is 0.693.
(If you're wondering, Butler has more than managed to maintain this in the playoffs too -- after 6 games, Jimmy is 2nd in the entire playoffs in Free-Throw Rate, posting a ludicrous 0.810 FTr.)
  • 🟢 Good playmaker
First, some numbers: 6.0 Assists/Game, 7.5 Passer Rating, 7.4 Box Creation. Miami have a fairly strong offense (+1.9 rORTG, 6th) which improves by +4.1 points with Butler on the court. Per Basketball Index, Jimmy is in the 91st percentile for playmaking among wings.
For a few seasons now, Jimmy has been a very solid passer and playmaker. Mimicking another former well-known Chicago wing who went by the name of Michael, Jimmy is a low-turnover player (career 1.5 TOV/game; this season: 2.2 TOV/Game, excellent 2.73 AST/TOV ratio). He is a decisive and relatively low-error ball-handler and shot-creator, hitting bigs and shooters well off PnDHO-action. Butler manipulates defenders with his eyes to unlock shots for teammates, and is also adept at punishing help defenders who have to react to his bruising drives to the rim by kicking to shooters and dropping it off to cutters. He's developed especially good chemistry with Bam (25% of Butler's 6.0 AST/game go to Adebayo), Duncan Robinson (who receives 17% of Butler's assists), and rookie Kendrick Nunn (18%).
Some clips of Jimmy's playmaking: (Source: stats.nba.com)
  • 🟢 Excellent defender
Jimmy at his peak is easily an all-league defensive talent, with tremendous instincts and effort on D, generally remaining incredibly active on that end both on- and off-the-ball. Miami's 12th-ranked defense (-1.0 rDRTG) improves by 1.0 points with Butler on the floor. Butler’s defensive awareness is top-tier, as is his lateral quickness - he's comfortable chasing speedy guards around the court; Jimmy is also uber-switchable for his size, guarding positions 1-4 at least 18% of the time each, and guarding centers for 10% of his possessions, when switched onto bigs in Miami small-ball lineups. Jimmy is in the 82nd percentile of post defenders, fantastic given his position, and players shoot a whopping 4.4% worse on 3s when Butler's the closest defender, demonstrating his defensive engagement and closeout-speed.
To again quote Evin:
(Butler's) ability to stand up powerful post-up players, coupled with the quickness to stick with the shiftiest wings, and the instincts and IQ to know when to stay down and when to jump to contest, make him a dynamite defender... (he) frustrates opponents with foot speed and anticipating with active hands, he’ll blow up pick and rolls, or send his man one way only to remarkably beat him to that same spot. You’ll see jumping in passing lanes, but you’ll also just see him holding his ground a lot; in one, he even holds Melo off with one arm while grabbing the rebound with the other. His intelligence shines through when he avoids getting screened and when he forced ball handlers into help.
Butler is quite disruptive off-ball (7th in Deflections/Game, 7th in Steals/Game, 13th in Steal-%, 14th in loose-balls recovered/game), often jumping passing lanes or making crisp rotations to cut off offensive angles. He's also a plus-rebounder for his position, snagging almost seven boards a game; the Heat's defensive-rebound-% spikes by almost 3 percentage points with Butler on the court. He's generally very engaged on D, providing hard closeouts to shooters (players shoot almost 4.3% worse from 3 when Jimmy is the closest defender) and providing help when the primary Miami defender is beat. Along with Adebayo, Butler is one of the main reasons Miami's defense is still better than league-average even though their lineups prioritise shooting over defense (see: Robinson, Herro, Leonard, Olynyk).
Most defensive metrics (taken with a spoonful or two of salt, of course) think of Butler as a very solid positive on defense (+1.0 to +2.0); Basketball Index has Jimmy as the 4th-best Wing Stopper at Passing Lane Defense, and ranks him in the 90th percentile of perimeter defenders in the league overall. It also has him in the 71st percentile as a defensive rebounder, and in the 47th percentile as an interior defender.
Here are some clips of Jimmy's defense:

🔴 The Not-As-Good:

  • 🔴 Inconsistent jumpshot
Butler suffered the 7th-biggest drop in the league in perimeter shooting grade from last year to this year (per Basketball Index). Famously, he was the least efficient jump-shooter in the league by eFG% in the regular-season.
As mentioned, though, his jumpshot has been very respectable in the bubble for now, albeit on very low volume.
  • 🔴 Room for improvement in some areas of scoring
Namely: spot-up shooting, handoffs, and PnR scoring, all likely related to his regular-season shooting woes.
  • 🔴 Some areas of playmaking
From my very limited film study (~15 games), Jimmy doesn't seem to try advanced passes often (though that might be a Miami Heat scheme-related issue), rarely slingshoting cross-court skip-passes to corner shooters like LeBron/Luka/Trae do (please correct me if I'm wrong, Heat fans!). He can occasionally miss cutters while hunting for the kickout pass for 3. Butler's delivery can sometimes be a bit wild or inaccurate as well.
  • 🔴 Some areas of defense
Jimmy's activity does dial down on occasion. He also lacks size/strength/length to defend larger wings consistently, and his gambles can blow up on him at times too when he's springing passing lanes, with the player he's supposed to be guarding getting an open 3 or cutting to the rim as Butler isn't there to recover in time. Jimmy is also vulnerable to size at the rim - despite posting one of the best block rates in the league for a guard/forward, these are mostly on smaller players and he doesn't seem to influence shot attempts at the rim too much in general - opponents shoot almost 6% better within 6 feet of the hoop when Butler's the closest defender. It appears that Butler's pick-and-roll defense also has some room for improvement as he may have trouble negotiating man and ball sometimes - he's in the 46th percentile in defending PnR ball-handlers, which isn't terrible, by any means, but is still far from elite.
  • 🔴 A few regular-season clutch woes
Jimmy shot 45.1 TS% in the clutch this season, with a -10.4 individual clutch net rating, while Miami as a team were 24th in clutch net rating.
However, the team still broke even in the wins column (18-18) and had a 14-10 clutch record when Butler played.
In addition, I say "regular-season" for a reason (keep in mind the usual "low sample size" asterisk, of course): Miami have been the 4th-best clutch team in the playoffs by net rating, winning all 3 of their close games so far, while Jimmy himself is sporting a blistering hot 88.7 clutch TS% and +29.8 clutch net rating at the moment, with an absolutely scorching +137.5 clutch offensive rating.
  • 🔴 Few durability questions
Jimmy G. Buckets (the 'G.' stands for 'Gets') has played >67 games only twice in his 9-year career.
HOWEVER, he's been very available for the Heat this season, missing 'only' 11 games.
Indeed, Butler played heavy minutes in his last playoff run for Philadelphia (38mpg in 2nd round) as well, performing admirably in a razor-close loss to the eventual champion Raptors in the 2nd round (22/7/6 on 56ts%, +1.0rTS%, vs Toronto), very nearly pulling through a Sixers team otherwise starved of late-game offensive-creation into the Conference Finals.

That's it for today, thanks for reading!

(P.S. Here's Butler's playoff career-high 40-point performance against Milwaukee in Game 1 for your viewing pleasure: LINK.)
BONUS
heres some other things I've written (if you're interested in this sort of stuff or just wanna pass the time while waiting for the games to begin)-
submitted by KagsTheOneAndOnly to nba [link] [comments]

MAME 0.223

MAME 0.223

MAME 0.223 has finally arrived, and what a release it is – there’s definitely something for everyone! Starting with some of the more esoteric additions, Linus Åkesson’s AVR-based hardware chiptune project and Power Ninja Action Challenge demos are now supported. These demos use minimal hardware to generate sound and/or video, relying on precise CPU timings to work. With this release, every hand-held LCD game from Nintendo’s Game & Watch and related lines is supported in MAME, with Donkey Kong Hockey bringing up the rear. Also of note is the Bassmate Computer fishing aid, made by Nintendo and marketed by Telko and other companies, which is clearly based on the dual-screen Game & Watch design. The steady stream of TV games hasn’t stopped, with a number of French releases from Conny/VideoJet among this month’s batch.
For the first time ever, games running on the Barcrest MPU4 video system are emulated well enough to be playable. Titles that are now working include several games based on the popular British TV game show The Crystal Maze, Adders and Ladders, The Mating Game, and Prize Tetris. In a clear win for MAME’s modular architecture, the breakthrough came through the discovery of a significant flaw in our Motorola MC6840 Programmable Timer Module emulation that was causing issues for the Fairlight CMI IIx synthesiser. In the same manner, the Busicom 141-PF desk calculator is now working, thanks to improvements made to Intel 4004 CPU emulation that came out of emulating the INTELLEC 4 development system and the prototype 4004-based controller board for Flicker pinball. The Busicom 141-PF is historically significant, being the first application of Intel’s first microprocessor.
Fans of classic vector arcade games are in for a treat this month. Former project coordinator Aaron Giles has contributed netlist-based sound emulation for thirteen Cinematronics vector games: Space War, Barrier, Star Hawk, Speed Freak, Star Castle, War of the Worlds, Sundance, Tail Gunner, Rip Off, Armor Attack, Warrior, Solar Quest and Boxing Bugs. This resolves long-standing issues with the previous simulation based on playing recorded samples. Colin Howell has also refined the sound emulation for Midway’s 280-ZZZAP and Gun Fight.
V.Smile joystick inputs are now working for all dumped cartridges, and with fixes for ROM bank selection the V.Smile Motion software is also usable. The accelerometer-based V.Smile Motion controller is not emulated, but the software can all be used with the standard V.Smile joystick controller. Another pair of systems with inputs that now work is the original Macintosh (128K/512K/512Ke) and Macintosh Plus. These systems’ keyboards are now fully emulated, including the separate numeric keypad available for the original Macintosh, the Macintosh Plus keyboard with integrated numeric keypad, and a few European ISO layout keyboards for the original Macintosh. There are still some emulation issues, but you can play Beyond Dark Castle with MAME’s Macintosh Plus emulation again.
In other home computer emulation news, MAME’s SAM Coupé driver now supports a number of peripherals that connect to the rear expansion port, a software list containing IRIX hard disk installations for SGI MIPS workstations has been added, and tape loading now works for the Specialist system (a DIY computer designed in the USSR).
Of course, there’s far more to enjoy, and you can read all about it in the whatsnew.txt file, or get the source and 64-bit Windows binary packages from the download page. (For brevity, promoted V.Smile software list entries and new Barcrest MPU4 clones made up from existing dumps have been omitted here.)

MAME Testers Bugs Fixed

New working machines

New working clones

Machines promoted to working

Clones promoted to working

New machines marked as NOT_WORKING

New clones marked as NOT_WORKING

New working software list additions

Software list items promoted to working

New NOT_WORKING software list additions

Merged pull requests

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An alternative version of the NFL Top 100


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Every year NFL Network puts out a list of the Top 100 Players for the upcoming season, as voted by their peers. I have talked about the flaws of that whole process a few times already – the players only write down their top 20 players, which is understandable, but also doesn’t result in the proper results, since everybody is somewhat to put their guys on, not all players actually get to watch a lot of games, if they don’t include teams they actually face or are limited to watching highlights, and the voting concludes before the playoff are even here, which can be the only somewhat logical reason, Patrick Mahomes was only number four on the official list – even though that would still be wrong.
For the purpose of this list, I first put together my rankings of the top players at every single position, but then somewhat went off script by just writing down names in the order that they shot into my head, before comparing it with the positional rankings and trying to weigh guys against each other. And just to make this clear – these rankings are based on players regardless of their position, since otherwise would have almost half the starting quarterbacks in the league within the top 20 or so. And of course this is a bit of a projection and not solely built on what these players did this previous season, but also not about where they will be at the end of 2020.
Here is my list:


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  1. Patrick Mahomes
  2. Aaron Donald
  3. Russell Wilson
  4. Lamar Jackson
  5. Stephon Gilmore
  6. Julio Jones
  7. George Kittle
  8. Quenton Nelson
  9. Jamal Adams
  10. Jalen Ramsey

What is there still to say about Mahomes? In just two years as a starter, he has been a league MVP and just led his team to three consecutive double-digit comebacks to get that Lombardi trophy. He is the most talented player I have ever seen and will now have the Chiefs as contenders in the AFC for the next decade, after signing that blockbuster deal. You can not tell me there are three humans on earth that are better at football than this guy.
If we lived in a world without Mahomes, Donald would be the obvious pick here for the best player regardless of position. You can easily argue that the gap between the two-time Defensive Player of the Year and the next-closest players is even bigger (since I have a QB at three), since Donald doesn’t just have the numbers despite facing constant attention, but does so much more that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, in terms of blowing up plays before they can even get going.
Wilson to me has earned his way up to being the second-best quarterback in the league. He throws those unbelievable rainbow deep balls, is elusive as it gets at extending plays as a passer and seems to always come through when his team needs him most. He has covered up a lot of issues for the Seahawks – leading his team to a winning record every single season of his career – and the only thing that can hold him back is his own conservative coaching staff.
I “only” have the league’s reigning MVP at number four, because I think there are two more proven quarterbacks and there are definitely things he can still improve upon, but holy crap, was this guy exciting last season. Lamar led the league with 43 total touchdowns and a ridiculous 9.0 touchdown percentage. His QB-record 1206 yards on the ground helped the Ravens break the all-time rushing mark for a team, but as spectacular as he was in the open field, the stats say he was also elite from within the pocket.
The reigning DPOY shows up at number five here for me and while there were other worthy candidates, Gilmore was on a different level as the other corners in the league last season. He was tied for the lead-league in interceptions and scored more touchdowns (2) than he was responsible for in coverage (1), while allowing a league-best completion percentage of 44.6 and 41.8 passer rating. Outside of a week 17 blunder, he shut down every top receiver he faced.
Julio to me is still the best receiver in the game and it’s not that close to be honest. His freakish combination of size, speed, leaping ability and hands set him apart from most guys, but it is the way he has continued to advance as a route-runner and technician that have paved his way to being an all-time great. Over the last six seasons, he has averaged 1565 receiving yards per season and his 96.2 yards per game is almost ten yards more than any player in NFL history.
The best and most complete tight-end today is Kittle. There are only five players in the entire league with more receiving yards over the last two seasons, despite seeing about 60 targets less than the five guys ahead of him, and his 1507 yards after the catch over that stretch is second only to Christian McCaffrey. As impressive as all that is, he is equally valuable as a run-blocker, being a huge factor in setting things up for the 49ers’ second-ranked rushing attack.
I know he has only been in the league for two years, but I would already take Nelson over any other interior offensive lineman in football without a doubt. When I evaluated his college tape, I thought he was a generational prospect and he has come nothing short of his expectations. Nelson has only been responsible for one sack in those two seasons combined and been named a First-Team All-Pro in both of them.
If you want to know how great Adams is, just check out the kind of compensation Seattle gave up to acquire a disgruntled player at a position that is deemed undervalued by most people. The Jets are probably happy to still get as much back as they did, but Adams was their best run-defender, coverage player and pass-rusher. He is a chess piece, that improves every area of a defense and gives them an attitude and tremendous versatility.
The one guy who can challenge Stephon Gilmore for the title as best corner in the league is Ramsey. While the numbers in coverage didn’t look quite as impressive last season, switching teams mid-season and missing four games, he still only allowed 45.6 yards per game and one total touchdown in coverage. Ramsey is one of only two or three guys at the position, who can match up with the opposing’s top receiver every single play.


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  1. Saquon Barkley
  2. Christian McCaffrey
  3. Michael Thomas
  4. Khalil Mack
  5. Von Miller
  6. Deshaun Watson
  7. Minkah Fitzpatrick
  8. Davante Adams
  9. Bobby Wagner
  10. Travis Kelce

It was a very close race for the top back in the game, but I just had to go with the unbelievable talent of Saquon here. He is so explosive, elusive and powerful. Barkley was banged up for pretty much half of last season, but still averaged 5.4 yards per touch and 60 percent of his rushing yards came after contact, with bad offensive line play in front of him, that had him avoiding defenders as soon as he got the handoff at times. His 279 scrimmage yards against Washington in week 16 was the most since Julio Jones’ 300-yard performance in 2016.
McCaffrey comes in right behind Barkley, coming off a highly impressive season. CMac became just the third player in NFL history to put up 1000 rushing and receiving yards in the same season and also easily leading the league with 2392 scrimmage yards. Maybe even more impressive – he had eight yards more after the catch (1013) than total receiving yards. Nobody is a bigger asset running routes out of the backfield, but he has also become a much more efficient in-between-the-tackler runner.
Thomas set a new all-time record with 149 receptions last season and led the league with 1725 receiving yards. The crazy thing about that is the fact he lead all receiver in catch percentage last season at 80.5, despite being really the only guy the Saints could rely upon at that position on a weekly basis. He’s not nearly as dangerous after the catch or on vertical patterns as guys like Julio Jones or Tyreek Hill, but he is so physical and constantly comes through on third downs.
When you look at what Mack had done in the five years since his rookie season (49 sacks and 76 TFLs over four seasons), he didn’t quite live up to his lofty standards last season. With that being said, he is still the most impactful guy coming off the edge when totally healthy. He is an elite run-defender, routinely puts offensive tackles on skates and has a knack for getting the ball out (11 forced fumbles since 2018).
Similar to Mack – and as it has been like for several years now when these two have been right next to each other in any rankings – Miller had a down-year in 2019. He did not reach double-digit sacks for the first time since 2013, when he was put on IR mid-season, but I expect that to go back to normal with more help around him. His burst, ability to bend and smarts for the position will create issue for offenses once again this season.
Deshaun is just an absolute baller. Like his former college head coach Dabo Swinney said, he is Michael Jordan-like in the big moments. Over the last two seasons, he has completed 67.8 percent of his passes for just over 4000 yards on average and 52 touchdowns compared to 21 INTs over that stretch. More importantly, he gets the Texans out of the toughest situations and has led five game-winning drives in both years. I don’t think anybody else could have led this team back in that Wildcard game, other than maybe Mahomes.
After coming over from Miami via trade early last season, Fitzpatrick completely turned around this Steelers defense by bringing the secondary together and became one of the premiere play-makers in the entire league. He came up with eight takeaways and scored two touchdowns himself, with both of them completely shifting the momentum those respective games. Minkah is most valuable patrolling the deep middle of the field, but offers the versatility to play just about everywhere.
I know this may be a little bit of a controversial pick, with other guys at the receiver position deserving consideration, but to me Adams right now is the third-best receiver in the game. He came up with three yards short of cracking the 1000-yard mark due to missing four games and dealing with a banged up toe, but he came up big in two playoff games, with 300 combined yards and two TDs. Adams offers the best releases in the game, as well as beautifully setting up routes with head-nods and body language, to go with tremendous body-control.
Now that Luke Kuechly has retired, B-Wagz to me is the clear choice as the top middle linebacker in football. He displays great range and has to cover a lot of ground with how much base personnel the Hawks run. Wagner is also a very secure tackler, who led the league in take-downs for the second time in his career last season, after missing just one of his attempts the year before. What doesn’t get enough attention is his football IQ and the process of getting to the ball in the first place.
If I told you the next player has caught 200 passes for 2565 yards and 15 touchdowns over the last two seasons, you would say that’s a great receiver – since that ranks behind only Julio, Mike Thomas, D-Hop and Mike Evans. What is even more impressive about those numbers is that Kelce has averaged 9.0 yards despite that high target share. He is the premiere flex receiving tight-end, who can be moved all over the formation and create problems.


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  1. Fletcher Cox
  2. Chris Jones
  3. Chandler Jones
  4. Cameron Jordan
  5. DeAndre Hopkins
  6. Tyreek Hill
  7. Aaron Rodgers
  8. T.J. Watt
  9. Carson Wentz
  10. J.J. Watt

In a world without Aaron Donald, Cox would be known as the best defensive tackle over the last decade. He has only reached double-digit sacks once in his career and to be fair, dipped a little last season, but the numbers will never tell the whole story as what kind of player he is. He has that quickness to shoot through gaps and show up in the backfield, but he can also bench-press 330-pounders and toss them to the side when he needs to. Just watch him destroy the interior O-line of the Seahawks and almost singlehandedly keep them in that Wildcard Round game without Carson Wentz.
Nipping at the heels of Cox is another game-wrecker on the inside of the defense for the reigning Super Bowl champs. Jones may not nearly be the same run-stopper at the point of attack, but his length and burst off the ball allow him to impact plays in a penetrating role and he is an elite pass-rusher at his position. 24.5 sacks and 49 QB hits in his last 29 games is highly impressive, but in the biggest game, he only logged on tackle and still made a huge impact, with a couple of batted passes and directly forcing a pick.
The most overlooked edge rusher and maybe overall player in the league over the last several years has been Chandler Jones. Since coming over to Arizona in 2016, he has led the league with 60 sacks and 17 forced fumbles, while also being near the top in total pressure numbers every single season. That is despite playing on one the worst defensive units over the last couple of years and having no legitimate threat up front with pretty much the entire time.
Cam Jordan is a very unique player. He has more of a 3-4 defensive end body type, rather than your typical edge rusher. He has great power and strings his hands and feet together really well, but what makes him special is the way he can read pass-sets and take advantage of weight-distribution and how far tackles open up their hips. Not only did Jordan set a personal high with 15.5 sacks last season, but he is also an excellent run-defender (15 TFLs).
Even though his trade to Arizona is still confusing for most people, when you see how little his new team had to give up, don’t let that make you think D-Hop isn’t a top-tier receiver anymore. If you take out the 2016 season, when Brock Osweiler could not have gotten the ball to his superstar receiver, even if he were just inches away, he has averaged 1369 receiving yards and 9.6 touchdowns since his rookie season. He may not as homerun-hitter, but he might be the most physical receiver off the ball and at the catch point, plus he has the best hands in the game.
Did I just say homerun hitter? Outside of Julio, I think there is an argument to be made that Tyreek is the next-best receiver in the league. He breaks the game open with his next-level speed and changes how defensive coordinators have to call coverages. However, he is much more than just a deep threat, with quick feet to stop and start on his routes, he shows great concentration when the ball is in the air and he does now shy away from the physical aspect of football.
We have not seen Rodgers play at that elite level since 2016, when he led the league in touchdown passes (40), but he is still one of the best in the game. He has lost just a little bit of his elusiveness to extend plays and does not take as many chances down the field as we are used to from him, but his quick release, ability to see the field and the arm talent to throw off platform are all still special. Just watch what he does in his second year in Matt LaFleur’s system, with added motivation.
The younger T.J. Watt stepped out of the shadow of his older brother last season, when he finished top five in sacks (14.5) and quarterback hits (36), while also leading the league with eight fumbles forced and recovering another four, to go with a couple of picks. He finished behind only Stephon Gilmore and Chandler Jones in the hunt for his first DPOY trophy and will be a terror on Pittsburgh’s ferocious defense for years to come.
At 29 is the player that shamefully didn’t even make the official top 100 list. Maybe it is people still saying Nick Foles won the Eagles their Super Bowl or they call him injury-prone, but let’s not forget Wentz set this team up with home-field advantage through the playoffs back in 2017 in an MVP-level season and he has actually missed only eight of 64 career regular season games. Last year he put the team on his back, with practice squad players catching passes and both his tackles missing multiple weeks, and led them to a home playoff game.
Closing is the top 30 is the older Watt brother. I gave the slightest edge to the Pittsburgh outside backer. He certainly the track record as one of only two guys to be named Defensive Player of the Year three times in his career, but injuries have started taking a toll on him and over the last four years, he has missed the equivalent of two full seasons. However, when he played all 16 games in 2018, he still topped his little bro with 16 sacks and 18 tackles for loss. He played at a very high level when healthy last season and miraculously returned in the playoffs to make a big impact against Buffalo.


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  1. Marlon Humphrey
  2. Derwin James
  3. Mike Evans
  4. Eddie Jackson
  5. Alvin Kamara
  6. Derrick Henry
  7. Tre’Davious White
  8. Zack Martin
  9. Dalvin Cook
  10. Nick Chubb

One of the most underrated guys on the player’s countdown is Humphrey. To me there are no five corners in the game that you can tell me are better than this guy – and I actually have him at number three. He is long and physical in press-coverage, he can move into the slot, he is a hard hitter from that position and he is like a magnet for the ball, with three interceptions, two fumbles forced and three recovered. Humphrey is only 24 years old and already near the top of football.
NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah recently said something pretty interesting, when he tweeted that “if you put all players in a league-wide draft, Derwin James would be the top safety on every board”. To me Jamal Adams has done enough to earn the title as best player at that position and Derwin only played five games, but the Chargers superstar can do pretty much everything Jamal does, in terms of defending the run as a box-defender, blitzing off multiple spots and just being a position-less player, while also having the range to basically play free safety.
Big Mike has now become only the second receiver in NFL history alongside Randy Moss to start his career with six consecutive 1000-yard receiving seasons. He gets in and out his breaks better than you would ever think of a 6’5”, 230-pound guy, he is much more of a vertical threat than people label him as, averaging 1.5 yards more per catch than Tyreek Hill (17.5), and he obviously dominates at the catch point, while also bullying DBs as a blocker.
At 34 I have another defensive back, who has become a highly underrated player in my opinion. Somehow Eddie Jackson didn’t make the official list, which is still mind-blowing to me, because just a year ago, he was right up there among the premiere defensive play-makers in the game. His takeaways went way down on a Bears defense that took a step back, after coming up with eight of those in 2018 and scoring a league-high three defensive TDs, but he is still one of the smartest and rangiest player on the back-end we have in the game.
That third running back behind Saquon and McCaffrey was a tough choice, which is indicated by four players at that position over the next six spots, but I went with Kamara here. He recently that he basically played on one leg last season, which may be a little exaggerated, but when healthy, his explosiveness and contact balance are second to none, plus he is an elite weapon out of the backfield, who is basically un-coverable on option routes.
The next guy here is the reigning rushing leader Derrick Henry. This may seem a little low for him and he is the only one of this group to get that second contract so far, but since he is only a factor on screen plays in the passing game, I could not put him any higher. Still, what King Henry did down the stretch was unbelievable. He put the team on his back, rushing for 896 yards over his final six games in the regular season and 374 yards combined in wins over the then-reigning Super Bowl champs and the team with the best record in the league, on the way to the AFC title game.
Another corner that I just love to watch is the Bills’ Tre’Davious White. While he plays in a zone-heavy system, that doesn’t leave him on an island as much as a Stephon Gilmore or a Jalen Ramsey, he is tremendous in that role and can match up against some top receivers one-on-one. What makes him special is the ability to anticipate routes and read the receiver and the quarterback at the same time. He was tied for the lead-league with six INTs, while deflecting another 17 passes and forcing a couple of fumbles.
Martin has been as consistent as it gets. He has started all but two of his 96 career games at right guard and been named First-Team All-Pro in four of six NFL season. Over the course of his career, he has allowed just eight total sacks and he was flagged for holding just once last season and four times in the last four seasons. He is a road-grader on gap and zone schemes, while having a tremendous anchor and clamps in protection.
Did you know Dalvin Cook finished second behind only Christian McCaffrey in scrimmage yards per game? He was tremendous for Minnesota last season in that zone-based rushing attack and a real weapon out of the backfield, catching 53 of 63 targets for over 500 yards. Dalvin is so good at pressing the front-side and then transitioning in one step to cut off the backside, while also having the burst to threaten the edges of a defense, and he has become a very tough runner.
My final RB here is Nick Chubb. There were a lot of stars on this underperforming Browns team last season, but this guy was the best player for them pretty much every single week. Similar to Henry, Chubb is not the most valuable receiver, but his physical running style was the best part about Cleveland’s offense. He can run inside and outside zone, does a great job setting up power plays and not only is he patient with letting plays develop, he has great acceleration once he puts on the gas and consistently falls forward.


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  1. Myles Garrett
  2. DeForest Buckner
  3. Tom Brady
  4. Ryan Ramczyk
  5. Odell Beckham Jr.
  6. Za’Darius Smith
  7. Tyrann Mathieu
  8. Lane Johnson
  9. Nick Bosa
  10. Chris Godwin

What happened in that week 11 Steelers game was not pretty and I’m sure people will bring it no matter what this kid continues to accomplish, but he just got a mega contract and to me is ready put his name among the elite defensive players in football. Garrett has only played 37 career games so far, but he has already put together 30.5 sacks and 32 tackles for loss, with one QB take-down per game last season. He is obviously an athletic freak, but his pass-rush arsenal has come a long way already.
DeFo is one of the most talented defensive linemen in all of football, but his technique has improved every single season and among all that talent on the NFC champions’ roster, he was named team MVP. As great as he was all the way throughout the regular season, he terrorized the interior O-line of the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. The 49ers had to move on from him this offseason due to cap reasons, but he immediately a key piece for that Colts D.
He might be the GOAT, but Brady lands at number 43 for me heading into 2020. Contrary to popular belief, his arm isn’t far off from what it was when he entered the league at the start of the millennium and his pocket movement is impeccable, but what bothered me when watching him play last season, was that reluctancy to stand tall in the pocket and take the punishment in order to deliver big plays, which will be an interesting mesh with Bruce Arians’ vertical passing attack.
While there about five guys in that conversation for me right now, Ryan Ramczyk earned the top spot here. More of a luxury pick three years ago, he ended up sliding right in at right tackle and has been absolute stalwart for them ever. Ramczyk has started 47 of 48 games and improved every single season, earning first-team All-Pro honors last season, when he did not allow a single sack and had did not have a holding call accepted against him past week two.
This is the lowest I have had Odell in my rankings since his rookie season. I have never been a huge fan of the antics with him, but the media constantly bashing on him has turned me into a fan, and I believe he will make all the haters shut up in 2020. OBJ was dealing with a foot injury all of last year and the amount of miscues between him and Baker Mayfield was countless, when it comes to break off or adjusting routes on the fly. He is still one of the all-time talents.
New to the list is a guy, who was quietly getting the job done as a rotational piece in Baltimore’s defensive front for a few years, before getting a big contract by the Packers. Smith instantly went from a nice player to one the premiere edge rushers in the entire league. While he “only” finished sixth with 13.5 sacks, he led all players with 93 total pressures and also had the fourth-most TFLs (17). I love the way Mike Pettine moves him around all over the formation in Green Bay.
The one thing I actually learned from the official top 100 is the fact Tyrann Mathieu was actually named team MVP, despite playing with the best player in the entire league. As explosive as that Chiefs offense is, the difference for this team was how the Honeybadger helped turn around this defensive unit and the energy he brought to the table. Mathieu can line up in the box, cover the slot, drop into deep coverage, blitz from multiple spots and tackle in the open field.
Another guy in that tackle conversation is maybe the most athletic one of the bunch. Johnson only played in 12 games last season, but he was tremendous in those, allowing just one sack and being called for holding once, despite facing some great pass-rushers in the NFC East and the conference overall. He has the feet to seal the edges in the run game and works up to the second level as well as anybody in the league.
The top rookie on the list this year is Nick Bosa. Making the top 20 on the official list seems a little rich, but this guy was dominant from the moment he stepped onto the field. Bosa finished one sack short or cracking double-digits, but he easily blew away the rookie record for total pressures (80) and finished tied for fifth overall in the regular season, plus another crazy 22 in the playoffs. He was also tied for fifth in tackles for loss (16) and got a pick, whilst constantly playing with all-out effort.
One of the biggest breakout players last season was Godwin. I predicted this already the year prior and wasn’t wrong necessarily, when he finished with 842 yards and seven touchdowns, but he took it to another level in 2019, when he finished third in receiving yards (1333) and tied for fourth in touchdowns (9) despite missing two games. He is so tough going over the middle to get those hard-earned yards, is incredibly hard to bring down after the catch (577 YAC) and led the league in 20+ yard receptions (25).


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  1. Jason Kelce
  2. Darius Leonard
  3. Ronnie Stanley
  4. Joey Bosa
  5. Kevin Byard
  6. Danielle Hunter
  7. Mitchell Schwartz
  8. Eric Kendricks
  9. Jadeveon Clowney
  10. Aaron Jones

The title for best center in the league has been in Philadelphia for at least the last three years and to me also for the decade. He may not as powerful as a few other guys, but the mobility to beat linebackers to the spot or can put hands on people as a puller or on screen plays allows the Eagles to do pretty much anything, while also doing a great job of recovering in pass-pro and transitioning assignments. Kelce has allowed multiple sacks just once since 2015.
There is a pretty significant drop-off between the first and second linebacker, but right now I would take Leonard behind only Bobby Wagner. Over his two years in the league (28 games), he has put together 284 tackles (including leading the league as a rookie), intercepted seven passes, forced six fumbles, recorded 12 sacks and deflected another 15 passes. “The Maniac” shows up all over the field and truly has a knack for the ball.
My top left tackle in the league is Ronnie Stanley. He took his game to another level last season, when he was named a first-team All-Pro. On 515 pass-blocking snaps, he did not allow a single sack and didn’t surrender any pressures in nine games. He also was a huge piece to the Ravens breaking the NFL’s all-time rushing yardage record (3296 yards) that had stood for over 40 years, as Stanley had the lowest percentage of negatively-graded run blocking snaps according to PFF.
Joey comes in five spots below his younger brother for me. While I believe Nick Bosa is a little more athletically gifted, Joey came into the league slightly more technically refined in his hand-usage. He may not quite have the burst off the ball like a Danielle Hunter or the ability to bend like a Von Miller, but Bosa is as complete a defensive end as we have in the game. He does a great job setting the edge in the run game and when he gets after the passer, he is so smooth with his hand-combos and finds the weakness of the tackle’s pass-sets.
Another one of those enormous snubs from the actual list is Byard, who has become one of the premiere safeties in the game. Over the last three seasons, he leads the league with 17(!) interceptions and broke up another 33 passes. The range he presents as a deep-middle safety and the confidence he has in his game, combined with extremely dependable tackling in space (just two of 86 attempts missed last season), definitely earn him a spot.
Since I just talked about Hunter, this is where he comes in. The Vikings D-end is another one of those guys, who has improved pretty much every year, since coming in as a pretty raw product from LSU. Hunter has put up 14.5 sacks in each of the last two seasons, but he massively improved his total pressure number of 97 (including the playoffs) and he actually got the ball out of the quarterbacks as well (three forced fumbles). He is an athletic phenom, who has learned to string moves together incredibly well.
We have started a bit of a run on offensive tackles here, with Schwartz coming in slightly outside the top 50. There is a good argument to be made for this guy being the best at his position, especially if you base it off that incredibly postseason run he just had, when he allowed no sacks and just one total pressure on 142 pass-blocking snaps against some of the baddest dudes on the planet. Schwartz wasn’t responsible for any sacks through the regular season either and the Chiefs averaged an NFL-best 5.93 yards per carry through the gaps to either side of him.
If you just base the list on this past season, you could argue Kendricks was the best linebacker in all of football. He has been a beast against the run pretty much since coming into the league, but what put him on a different level last season was his play in coverage. Kendricks allowed only 53.3 percent of the passes his way to be completed (very low for a LB) and broke up 12 passes, leading to a forced incompletion rate of 21.9 percent, which is more than four percent better than Luke Kuechly in his best season (who had been the previous record-holder).
Let’s get this out of the way – Clowney can be an absolute game-wrecker. However, I really struggled with his ranking, because he is such a disruptive player when on the field – which the stats simply don’t tell you – but injuries have just been too much of an issue for him. That is also a big reason why he is still signed. Yet, you can not overlook how incredibly gifted Clowney is and how much better he has gotten with his hands. That week ten game at San Francisco was the best performance from a defensive player all season long.
It’s always great when you predict a player to break out and he actually does. Jones already was on all my fantasy teams two years ago, but I said he would take another step forward in 2019 and he surprised even me. His 1558 scrimmage yards were the eight-most in entire league and he was tied for the most touchdowns at 19, while touching the ball almost 60 times less than the backs ahead of him (285 touches). He is so explosive and can just slither through defenses, while also being a true downfield threat as a receiver.


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  1. Shaquil Barrett
  2. Ezekiel Elliott
  3. David Bakhtiari
  4. Keenan Allen
  5. Akiem Hicks
  6. Zach Ertz
  7. Justin Simmons
  8. Matt Ryan
  9. Juju Smith-Schuster
  10. Drew Brees

I always thought Barrett was a good player as part of that rotation in Denver, but when he finally got a chance to shine, that’s exactly what he did. After posting 14 combined sacks over his four season with the Broncos, he led the league with 19.5 in his first year with Tampa Bay. He also finished second in tackles for loss (19) and forced six fumbles. Watching him rush the passer, his game is built on the bull rush and long-arm, off which he can covert power-to-speed, in terms giving a little hesitation and then winning on a quick burst to the outside.
Talking about the top backs in the game, Elliott’s name doesn’t come up too often for me anymore. He still finished fourth in the league with 1357 rushing yards, but that was running behind a top-five offensive line and he just looked a step slow to what we have seen from him, without that explosion through the hole and turning those good runs into big gains. With that being said, he might still be the most complete back in the game and could return to glory in 2020.
It almost feels bad to put Bakhtiari this low, but he is still one of those five elite offensive tackles. I think what puts him as last of that group is the fact he is closer to the average in terms of his run-blocking than the other guys. Still, he has been the best pass-protector over the last four years at least, when he did not allow more than three sacks once and the lowest amount of total pressures, despite his QB finishing in the top six of time to throw in all but one of them. While he did allow two sacks through the first half of last season, from week ten all the way through the NFC Championship game, he did not surrender a single one.
If you asked me who the best route-runner in the game today was, I would probably say Keenan Allen. He is so elusive off the line, deceptive with how he sets up his breaks and he has that quick-twitch to create separation on the short and intermediate level. He does lack some vertical speed and his YACability isn’t among the best at the position, which is why he isn’t even higher, but if you need somebody to get open on third downs, this is your guy. He terrorized Darius Slay last season.
Hicks did miss missed 11 games last season, but unlike the players around the league apparently – I did not forget about him. With just one sack and five TFLs in the five games he did play, it’s understandable that he would drop in the rankings, but let’s forget that in 2018 he rivaled Fletcher Cox and Chris Jones for the league’s best D-tackle not named Aaron Donald. Hicks was a frequent visitor in the backfield, with both ten marks in QB pressures and defensive stops. His impact was felt most when he wasn’t on the field for the Bears last season and they were closer to average than number one.
While Kittle and Kelce to me are clearly in a tier of their own, Ertz is still that third guy at the tight-end position. He has been one of the most productive pass-catchers in the entire league for several years now. After setting a new record for most receptions in a season for a TE (118) in 2018, he took a little step back last year. Ertz is by far Carson Wentz’s favorite target, having lead the Eagles in both receptions and receiving yards in all four seasons the QB has been there for. Since he isn’t as much of a downfield or YAC threat as the other two guys at his position – as well as only being an okay blocker – this is where he falls for me.
Somehow I think the player just don’t respect safeties, since this is the third guy now that should have clearly made the list at that position. I have always been a fan of Simmons and called for him getting more playing time, after mostly being a backup his rookie season, when the Broncos last won the Super Bowl. His range, instincts and smarts as a single-high free safety have allowed him to become a true difference-maker. And he certainly had the stats to back it up last season, with four picks and 15 more plays on the ball.
Matty Ice has never gotten the love he deserves on this list or from people covering the league as a whole. People seem to still think about the 28-3 game and while his MVP season was more of an outlier due to playing with the game’s best offensive mind in Kyle Shanahan, he has thrown for 4000+ yards in nine straight seasons, completing exactly two-thirds of his passes for a TD-to-INT ratio of 2.26 and a passer rating of 97 over that stretch. He has pretty much always been second tier for me, but he has had to deal with some bad O-line play and a couple of questionable years of play-calling under Steve Sarkisian.
2019 was not a good season for Juju by any means. He missed four games and had less than half the production of the year prior. However, a lot of that had to do with the worst quarterback situation in the league and you don’t put over 2300 yards and 14 TDs before you even turn 23, if you aren’t a special player. With Big Ben under center in ’18, Juju finished top five in the NFL with 1426 yards and was named team MVP over Antonio Brown – which the latter let us know later on.
I know this is what will get me the most hate, but whenever people want to give me all the stats on Drew Brees, they forget to mention that he is playing behind an elite offensive line, a record-setting receiver, one of the premiere pass-catching backs and one of the all-time great play-callers. I have called him a well-oiled machine in that Sean Payton offense several times and his command of that group is impeccable, but the raw arm talent simply isn’t quite there anymore.


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  1. Dak Prescott
  2. Demario Davis
  3. Stefon Diggs
  4. Marcus Peters
  5. Fred Warner
  6. Cameron Heyward
  7. Calais Campbell
  8. Grady Jarrett
  9. Jaylon Smith
  10. Deion Jones

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  1. Joe Mixon
  2. Melvin Ingram
  3. Anthony Harris
  4. Kenny Clark
  5. Arik Armstead
  6. Lavonte David
  7. Harrison Smith
  8. Cooper Kupp
  9. Mark Andrews
  10. Josh Jacobs

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  1. Budda Baker
  2. Rodney Hudson
  3. Brandon Scherff
  4. Marshon Lattimore
  5. Byron Jones
  6. Amari Cooper
  7. Darren Waller
  8. Richard Sherman
  9. Devin McCourty
  10. Matthew Stafford

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The players who just missed the cut and the ones who didn't qualify are in the comments!


If you enjoyed this breakdown, I would really appreciate if you could visit the original piece - https://halilsrealfootballtalk.com/2020/08/07/nfl-top-100-players-of-2020/

You can also listen to my analysis on the Youtube channel - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxjwwcjGcWpjlDyDj-pY5wQ
submitted by hallach_halil to nfl [link] [comments]

2020 Offseason Review Series - The Carolina Panthers

Team: The Carolina Panthers

Division: The NFC South
2019 Record: 5-11
”Biggest thing; missed opportunities. We had a chance to put points on the board. We didn’t do it...we had some missed opportunities to keep them backed up as far as defense is concerned, but we let them out. Couple things happened and it was a missed opportunity.”
To call our 2019 season something of an up and down affair is to put things mildly. Things got off to a damn disappointing start when Cam injured his Lisfranc in our preseason outing against the Patriots (and you cannot convince me that Bill Belichick didn’t 4D Chess that shit) and started the year playing like absolute crap. Yet after going on the IR, we initially took a big step forward. Under quarterback Christian McCaffery Kyle Allen, the team won 5 of 6 games in a row...before plummeting back to earth like the Hindenburg and losing out the rest of the year. It wasn’t just the offense that was bad (that was to be expected with Cam missing the season). The defense was also a complete tire fire.
What followed has been little less than the Phoenix bursting into flames and disintegrating to ash. This is my fifth offseason review for my beloved Panthers and this year more than any other, we have emerged from the offseason as a totally different team than whence we entered. Even after the Fox regime met its demise, the roster was relatively intact at the end. So, let's dive into the most dramatic Panthers offseason the franchise has maybe ever seen.

Coaching Changes

”The death of a dream can in fact serve as the vehicle that endows it with new form, with reinvigorated substance, a fresh flow of ideas, and splendidly revitalized color.”
After nearly 9 years in Carolina, Ron Rivera was fired after a loss to Washington on December 3rd. The move wasn’t unexpected. It was no secret that Carolina’s winningest coach entered this year on the hot seat, and despite the early success without Cam, it was clear that our atrocious close to the season had done him in. Though fans fairly unanimously agree with his firing, I think it’s fair to say that the ultimate cause of his demise were Cam’s back to back injuries and an owner that wanted to remake the team in his own image. None of this is to say that he didn’t deserve it. It was time for all sides to move on. But one certainly can’t accuse his legacy here of being one of failure.
Regardless, the team scored the coaching hire of the offseason when it landed vaunted Temple and Baylor coach Matt Rhule. Rhule is no stranger to rebuilds. After leaving Temple a more respectable program than he inherited, he went on to lead a full blown rebuild at Baylor. Decimanted by a sexual assault scandal and left the rump of the NCAA recruiting world, the program was a shadow of its former self. But Rhule thrived there, taking the program from 1-11 his first season to 11-1 his third; a remarkable turnaround that made him the belle of the NFL coaching ball going into 2020. When you strip aside the platitudes about his leadership and process, (qualities I have no doubt served him well on his road here, but are ultimately untested at the pro level) Rhule is an aggressive, offensive minded coach who believes in controlling games through the run that leans heavily on zone blocking schemes and run pass options.
Augmenting Rhule’s offensive minded regime, Rhule tapped LSU passing guru Joe Brady to be our new offensive coordinator. Pain me though it does to admit this, Brady learned under the best as an offensive assistant for Sean Payton’s Saints, and put that education to work when he galvanized LSU’s passing game. His scheme was instrumental not just in turning Joe Burrow into the number one pick in the 2020 draft, but also helped make Clyde Edwards-Helaire into a first round pick. His passing attack in 2019 was historically effective, which bodes well for the slate of weapons he’s inheriting in Carolina.
Neither coach had the years to implement their schemes that are typical of college regimes, so the exact nature of our offense is somewhat mysterious. Both Brady and Rhule favor aggressive offenses that lean heavily on the run game, and utilizing running backs in run pass options. I have little doubt that Christian McCaffery will remain the centerpiece of our offense or that he was one of the chief allures to both coaches. But Brady also emphasized using weapons in space and attacking downfield, which bodes well for weapons like Curtis Samuel, Robby Anderson and DJ Moore.
It’s an exciting lineup for a team that has spent years mired in a defense first, ball control philosophy for the last several years. But the team’s offense isn’t the old side of the ball getting a makeover. To lead our “rebuilt” defense, Rhule hired his longtime defensive coordinator Phile Snow. I have less to say about this hire other than that his teams are known for ball hawking and going after the passer.
For reasons which will soon be obvious, I don’t think most of us expect much from Snow his first year. But the new coaching class represents something of a sea change in Carolina’s philosophy, which between Rivera and Fox before him was predominantly conservative. The hirings are not without risk. None of these men have a great deal of experience leading NFL teams. But after watching the success of a guy like Kliff Kingsbury in Arizona, the youth and fresh ideas of the Rhule/Brady regime is a welcome breath of fresh air.
These hires were ultimately met with a ton of excitement from fans, starting our offseason off on a relative high note. But for the Carolina faithful, that optimism would prove to be short lived. Because almost immediately after these exciting new hires, the offseason went very, very south very, very quickly.

Departures

”Well, that's great. That's just fuckin' great, man! Now what the fuck are we supposed to do? We're in some real pretty shit now, man! Game over, man. Game over.”
It’s pretty safe to say that the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty has been less than warmly received by pretty much everyone so far. And for Panthers fans, the bad news began early when, on January 14th, perennial All Pro and Hall of Fame caliber linebacker Luke Kuechly announced his retirement. Shocking as the move initially was, it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise. Luke has battled a nasty string of concussions. He’s a smart, film savvy enough guy that a less health threatening position in pro scouting or coaching was always in the cards. At 29, his fabulous career as a player is at an end, and predictably has already joined our scouting team.
From a football standpoint, the loss this represents cannot be overstated. Luke was not only the best defense player on our team, but one of the best defenders in the League. It was a titanic loss for a team that was reeling on defense to begin with, and his production will doubtlessly prove irreplaceable. Luke wasn’t just a smart linebacker who could close space with a speed somewhat akin to teleportation, but an on field general of sorts. The testimony of players who faced off with him to this effect is nearly endless, but his ability to diagnose plays and redirect our players turned him into something of a second coach, and helped mask numerous deficiencies in our roster for years. Linebackers can be replaced. That kind of defensive genius cannot.
It is impossible to know if the rest of our offseason would have played out the same way had Luke not hung them up. But it kicked off an offseason of painful bloodletting which saw nearly all of our roster stalwarts and veteran talent purged. On January 30th, it was the turn of Tight End Greg Olsen, who despite a spate of reason injuries, played well in 2019 and was for years our only reliable receiving option. Third down savant and Slot Receiver Jarius Wright was released on February 25th. Nine days later, five time Pro Bowl Guard Trai Turner was shipped off to the Chargers in a trade we shall shortly revisit. Long tenured Safety and Special Teamer Colin Jones services were ended on March 16th, and on March 18th Safety Eric Reid was let go.
It was always known that our free agency would be rough. We were a cap strapped team in 2020 with a lot of players hitting free agency. But there was barely an attempt made to retain anyone. There was a wholesale purge of our DTs; Vernon Butler is now a Bill, Dontari Poe and Gerald McCoy are now Cowboys, and Kyle Love isn't anything. The edge wasn’t spared either. DE Mario Addison, our most consistent and talented pass rusher over our last several seasons, Wes Horton and pleasant free agent surprise Bruce Irvine all left for greener pastures. 2017 All Pro OT turned G Daryl Williams joined Bulter on the Bills and starting G Greg Van Roten has taken his remarkably solid services to the New York Jets. But our biggest loss was in free agency was CB James Bradberry. Our only consistently competent corner since Josh Norman left, Bradberry predictably signed with the Giants. I’m not going to argue that Bradberry was a great corner. I wouldn’t have paid him the contract he got. But between his departure and Reid’s, our secondary is badly undermanned.
When the dust settled, the net loss was three offensive starters, including two of our five offensive linemen (both on the interior). Seven out of our eleven defensive starters are gone, including everyone in the secondary but Tre Boston and Donte Jackson and our entire front seven save for Kawaan Short and Shaq Thompson.
And yet as bad as that all felt, the biggest asteroid crashed into our roster on March 17th, when OPOTY, 3 time Pro Bowl, former ROTY and 2015 NFL MVP QB Cam Newton was released from the team.
Need I really say any more? For 9 years, Cam was the heart and soul of the Carolina Panthers; our team leader, our biggest cheerleader, the center of gravity around which all enthusiasm for the team revolved. Our organization made him the alpha and omega of our offense for years, giving him lackluster weapons awful protection and over the hill runners to work with, knowing that his arm, his rushing ability and his football IQ could just make up for the difference to provide a competent offense. For much of his time here, Cam and Olsen headlined an offense roster of nobodies that could somehow turn electric at the drop of the hat just on the strength of Cam’s playmaking brilliance. Though he was initially considered selfish, he evolved over his tenure into a fantastic team leader and a pillar of the community that any franchise would be proud to make its face.
That era, which could in turns be fun and frustrating, futile and electric, harrowing and humiliating, is at an end. Cam took a team that was utterly rudderless and made them exciting again. To say that he’ll be missed is an understatement of tremendous magnitude, and in allowing him to depart for nothing, the Panthers left fans with a bitter pill to swallow.
He was a real one. And he will be missed.

Arrivals

The song is ended, but the melody lingers on
The night was splendid, but I found at the break of dawn
That you and the song were gone, but the melody lingers on
So, our franchise QB, franchise defender, most of our defensive starters, half our OL and one of our best franchise receivers have left the building. It was a rough free agency period, to be sure, but football did not end for the Carolina Panthers in Q1 2020 and the coaches have acquired some players with whom they must now pick up the pieces.
Headlining these is new QB Teddy Bridgewater, who we actually signed before cutting Newton. In a lot of ways, Teddy is the antithesis of his predecessor. Where Cam was inaccurate but electric, Bridgewater is accurate, but conservative. Where Cam was a playmaker with his legs, Bridgewater (never much of a runner to begin with) is almost statuesque since his knee injury.
I’ll be very honest here; I don’t think a lot of this signing. While I’m certainly going to give him a chance, I think Teddy is a solid but unspectacular QB who is either made or broken by the talent and scheme around him. We didn’t sign a franchise QB here; we overpaid for a player coming off his best season with an outstanding supporting cast. Luckily, he’s landing in a spot where he has a ton of offensive talent, as well as offensive minded coaches to guide him, but I think he will be carried by it rather than elevating it in his own right. This is a bridge, not a solution, and the QB question in the long term remains to be answered.
Joining him on offense is WR Robby Anderson signed fresh from the New York Jets. And this was a shrewd and underrating signing. DJ Moore enjoyed something of a quiet breakout last year, and Samuel remains a solid-if-underutilized deep threat. What they really lacked was a third complementary piece, and while Robby left a lot to be desired as the Jets’ WR1, as our WR3, he represents a terrific compliment.
To replace James Bradberry, we signed CB Eli Apple. Now, on the surface, this seems like a massive downgrade, but that’s only because it is. Apple has been a disappointment since his high draft position with the Giants, and while he did bounce back a little bit with the Saints, he’s still nobody’s idea of a good starting option. He’ll enter as our CB1, Gods save us, and will remain there until our youth develops enough to replace him.
Remember how we traded Trai Turner? We got OT Russel Okung and a whole truckload of ridicule in return. The Okung trade was panned by pretty much everyone, but I don’t hate it now quite as much as I did at the time. Yes we traded to get older, but LT has been a point of desperate weakness since Michael Oher’s career ending concussion, and Okung is still a damn good player at the position. While the trade has left us in pitiful shape at guard, guards are comparatively easy to replace. If he plays well, we’ll have first rights to retain his services next year, and Rhule’s system, Brady’s offense and Bridgewater’s productivity are all completely dependent on good pass protection. All in all, I like the pickup.
He wasn’t our only OT signing. RG John Miller joins us from Cincinnati and LG Michael Scofield from Los Angeles. And they’re….fine. Just, y’know just...fine. I am inherently skeptical of any Bengals or Chargers cast off given their historically shitty OLs this last season. But we’re thin enough at Guard that I’m sure they’ll both be starters. Wahoo.
And that’s pretty much it for our big name acquisitions. Safety Justin Burris has a real shot to start alongside Tre Boston, and was quietly very good for the Browns last year. LB Tahir Whitehead adds some veteran leadership and depth, but is pretty unspectacular. TE Seth DeValve and WR Seth Roberts both add a little depth at their respective positions. WR Pharoah Cooper was almost exclusively signed to be a return man, and while he’s never quite lived up to his 2017 season in that capacity, he’s better than any of our shitheel returners over the last 10 years. Everyone else is a depth signing so deep it scarcely bares mentioning, but one does bare mentioning. QB PJ Walker was signed from the XFL, which is neat because he was really really good there. He also comes from a Matt Rhule system at Temple. It’s a potentially intriguing signing that adds an element of mystery to our QB room, though I doubt anything of consequence comes from it.

Draft

After a fee agency period that was something akin to emotional waterboarding, this was a fanbase that badly needed a lift from the draft. What we got was an NFL first all defensive draft. And despite how unsexy that sounds, it was kind of the shot in the arm a lot of us needed. Because the Panthers had a really good one. Entering the draft, our primary defense needs were “Yes”, so it made sense to focus our fire there. And while I’m somewhat disappointed that we didn’t address the OL,
Round 1, No. 7 overall: DT Derrick Brown, Auburn - A lot of folks were screaming at us to take Simmons here, but Brown was an obvious choice. The Carolina Panthers allowed a League worst 5.3 YPC to running backs last year, which was the culmination of a downward trend that began with Star Lotulelei’s departure to Buffalo back in 2018. Brown was a dominant run defender in college who can fill the role as the space eating DT we so desperately need and is athletic enough to apply pressure. I love this pick.
Round 2, No. 38 overall: Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State - YGM represents a terrific value in the second, as many had him at a first round grade. An edge rusher and run defender, he fits the classic mold of a 4-3 DE and will make an intriguing pairing with last year’s 1st round pick Brian Burns. I expect him to step into the void right away and assume an early role.
Round 3, No. 64 overall: Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois - Chinn was another value selection; arguably our best of the draft. An extremely versatile player, Chinn is projected as a safety who can land solid hits, offers range in coverage and even play a big nickel role. I suspect he’ll spend his rookie year doing a lot of the latter, with Boston and Burris in front of him. But his long term upside with us is undeniable.
Round 4, No. 113 overall : CB Troy Pride Jr, Notre Dame - A fast, well sized player, Pride fits the mold of a developmental corner. He’s a good athlete that needs a little help with his instincts and a lot of help with his play physicality. He might work out for us in the long run, but he’ll need some time to develop.
Round 5, No. 152 overall: S Kenny Robinson, XFL - Boy was this an exciting steal. Probably a 2nd or 3rd rounder had he entered the draft a year ago, Robinson was expelled for academic dishonesty and spent last year in the XFL’s St. Louis Battlehawks. He thrived there, immediately starting as one of the best defensive backs in the League. His success against professional talent and his success in college make the ballhawk an extremely intriguing signing. He and Chinn will likely be the future at the position, and in round 5, this was an absolutely outstanding value selection.
Round 6, No. 184 overall: DL Bravvion Roy, Baylor - A Matt Rhule guy, Roy had something of a breakout 2019. While likely little more than run stuffing relief for Brown. He’s strong, but not particularly long or athletic, which will limit his pass rushing upside. But as a late round run blocker, he should be able to contribute for years to come. I like this pick as a supplemental piece, especially as a 6th round selection.
Round 7, No. 221 overall: CB Stanley Thomas-Oliver III, Florida International - Here’s a weird one. Thomas-Oliver was a wide receiver at the start of his college career and only moved to corner in 2018. It was a good call and he emerged as a playmaker in 2019 with eight PBUs, two sacks, and interception and two forced fumbles. Despite his limited time as a DB, he clearly has athleticism and instincts, so as a 7th round flier, you can’t complain. Given our lack of depth at CB, I’d be surprised if he didn’t make the roster.
Some notable UDFAs include G Mike Horton out of Auburn, a two year starter who could push for an early rotational role on a roster this thin and OT Branden Bowen of Ohio State, who was excellent last year despite earlier injuries. LB Chris Orr of Wisconsin was an awesome blitzing LB in college and offers lots of potential as an up front threat to runners. At WR, the team added Omar Bayless from Arkansas State, who surprisingly didn't get drafted. Enormously productive in 2019, there’s little enough in front of him that he could conceivably make the roster. And we added a large number of LBs, at least one of who will probably have a shot at the roster.

Strengths

Skill Players - Samuel and Moore were excellent last year, the latter in particular having a breakout year in spite of a QB who struggled enormously. Rhule’s system offers nothing but upside for Samuel, who has demonstrated a consistent ability to get open and make plays in space when given the ball. Likewise, Ian Thomas has done nothing in his playtime but flash upside, despite having a QB last year who couldn’t get him the ball to save his life. Without Olsen in front of him, I’m expecting a big year. Anderson adds a viable 3rd WR to the mix that’s been sorely lacking. And McCaffery is and remains God. Really, this was a group that performed very well last year, and while I have some doubts about Teddy as a franchise QB, there is no question that represents a massive upgrade over Kyle Allen. I suspect their strong play will continue.
Pass protection - Okung, Moton, Paradis and Miller represent a good pass protecting group. Bridgewater should at least be able to stay upright.

Weaknesses

Defense - I’m casting a broad net here, but I feel it’s warranted. Our secondary, pass protection and defensive line are all unproven. There are smatterings of good players there. Short, when healthy, is a stud. Burns was explosive before he got hurt last year. Shaq Thompson is solid and Tre Boston was quite good. Beyond that? Everyone is a question mark. Not like a “these guys have shown upside and downside” question mark. I mean, they’re totally unknown. Either rookies or guys whose performance is so erratic or sparse that it’s impossible to say much. I suspect the theme of the 2020 Carolina Panthers is “growing pains”, and nowhere will that be as true as the defense. We’re leaning heavily on youth and inexperience here, and it’s gonna be rough.
Interio OL: While I’m confident in Moton and Okung, the run blocking prowess of the interior scares me. This is not a good group. Dailey played like shit last year and Paradis is clearly not what he used to be. Scoffield and Miller, despite being as uninspiring as it comes, will be the starters almost by default. It’s possible that Little steps up to save us, but I’m not gonna hold my breath. If McCaffery takes a step back this year, the sorry state of the OL will be why.
Depth: We are not a deep roster. In addition to the holes listed above, we’re pretty much one injury away from any position but WR being a complete train wreck. We’re a team with clear cut starters, and nothing but murky depths behind them.

Projected Lineup/Battles

Rather than creating an exhaustive depth Chart, I’m gonna sketch this out roughly. It’s obvious who our starters are, but the depth beyond them is too wide open to predict at this time.
Starters are bold.
QB, Teddy Bridgewater, PJ Walker, Will Grier - Grier showed nothing last year, but his third round status means he probably won’t get cut. I do expect Walker to jump him on the depth chart, but Teddy is the starter.
RB, Christian McCaffery, Reggie Banonfanon, Alex Armah, Rodney Smith - CMC is and will remain the center of our offense. Banofanon is the backup, and Arham will be our FB. That much is guaranteed. The rest? I’m making the hot take that Rodney Smith is the 4th man on the roster. He just seems to have more upside than Jordan Scarlett and Mike Davis, though I wouldn’t be surprised if either rounds out the roster instead.
WR, DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel, Robby Anderson, Pharoah Cooper, Omar Bayless, Seth Roberts - Matt Rhule loves wideouts, but this is a roster with very little to get excited about outside of the three starters. That’s why I think Bayless makes the team. Roberts is a roster lock, and Cooper can play wideout and serve as a returner.
TE, Ian Thomas, Chris Manhertz, Who the fuck even knows who else? - Manhertz is a realy good blocker and Thomas is the clear favorite for the top slot. Everyone else is either an UDFA rookie or an utter no-name. Would not be surprised to see us add talent as teams make roster cuts.
LT, Russel Okung, RT, Taylor Moton, Greg Little, Tyler Marz, Mike Horton - The starters are good. The depth is a joke. Marz and Horton make this list simply because everyone else on it is so uninspiring.
G, John Miller, Michael Schofield, Denis Daley, Who the fuck knows who else? - Y I K E S
DL, Brian Burns, Kawaan Short, Derrick Brown, Efe Obada, Christian Miller, Yetur Gross-Matos, Bravvion Roy, Zach Kerr, Chris Smith, Stephen Weatherly - Those three in bold are starters. The rest I expect to see in a rotation. If you had to pick another starter out here, it’d be Weatherly, I guess, but it’s anyone’s game. There’s a lot of upside here but little proven talent.
LB, Shaq Thompson, Tahir Whitehead Who the fuck knows who else? - We took a handful of late round LBs last year who will all vie for spots with UDFA rookies we took this year. None of them are any good, so why waste ink on it? Jermaine Carter has upside I guess, but I suspect that most of us are going to spend this year guzzling bourbon and crying over Luke.
Safety, Tre Boston, Juston Burris, Kenny Robinson, Jeremy Chinn - This is such a fascinating group. The two in bold are locked in as starters. The latter two intriguing depth who might make a leap. This unit has tons of upside...
CB, Eli Apple, Donte Jackson, Cole Luke, Troy Price, Stanley Thomas Oliver, Corn Elder - ...which is good because this unit is ass. Cole Luke is a ghost and Donte Jackson and Eli Apple stink. Troy Price is a roster lock, though a developmental one. I suspect STO and Elder make the team despite the former being a 7th rounder and the latter being piss, because who the hell else on this roster is gonna stop them? I’m just hoping we can snag someone who’s worth a damn from another team after cuts.
ST, K Graham Gano, LS JJ Jansen - That’s right, Sly fanboys. I don’t think he makes the team. Joey Slye has an absolute monster of a leg, but an extremely inconsistent one. Gano frankly isn’t much better, but I think the team goes with the older, more proven talent.

Schedule

"There is nothing left but to get drunk."
Week 1 - Raiders
Week 2 - @Buccaneers
Week 3 - @Chargers
Week 4 - Cardinals
Week 5 - @ Falcons
Week 6 - Bears
Week 7 - @ Saints
Week 8 - Falcons
Week 9 - @ Chiefs
Weeks 10 - Buccaneers
Week 11 - Lions
Week 12 - @ Vikings
Week 13 - Bye (Lol)
Week 14 - Broncos
Week 15 - Packers
Week 16 - @ Redskins
Week 17 - Saints
This is an ugly schedule. Looking over it, I see maybe 4 wins. Upside of 6 if our defense surprises. Nothing as low as 2 wins or as high as 7 would especially surprise me, but I think 4 is where we’re at. The Redskins, Lions and Raiders are all games we can win if we come to play, and I’m sure we’ll fuck over one of our division rivals we have no business beating at some point. This is going to be a rough year, though, and I’ll take anything we get.

In Conclusion

The Carolina Panthers are a team in transition, and we have enough holes up and down the roster that parts of that transition will not be pretty. Still, we’re not without upside. I love our coaching hires, the offensive skill players are imminently talented, and we have major upside with our youth. The pass rush and safety corps in particular have the potential to surprise. But the interior line and (dear God) secondary are bad enough that this will be one of those years where we cheer for what works and hope for the future.
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