All posts by Josh Buckhalter

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Triple Zeros: Playoff P is in Full Effect

Triple Zeros

Playoff P is in Full Effect

This episode of Triple Zeros starts off with Friday’s exciting NBA Playoff Game 6s between the 76ers and Hawks in the East and the Clippers and Jazz in the West. That leads to talk about properly appreciating Paul George and Donovan Mitchell for their efforts. Things shift to the weekend’s pair of Game 7s (Bucks-Nets on Saturday and Hawks-Sixers on Sunday) before switching over to the NFL.

That’s when things go back to a story about the city of Las Vegas having to go into emergency funds for the second time to make payments on the Raiders stadium. Also, why Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes sharing the Madden 22 cover is weak, Le’Veon Bell vs. Andy Reid, and more!

Anchor | Apple

Be sure to follow on Facebook and Twitter (@JoshGBuck, @3ZerosPod, @ClockerSports) today!

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NBA’s Bubble Bursting with Rash of Injuries to Superstars

The NBA’s decision to restart the 2019-20 season is coming back to haunt them as star players drop like flies with major injuries. Think back to last August when the talk of an NBA bubble was ruffling the feathers of some of the league’s biggest stars, including its biggest in LeBron James.

It was so much of an issue that players led by James and Kawhi Leonard nearly walked out, taking the hopes of a restart with them. We know that the bubble ultimately went smoothly, but that stance is back at the forefront.

NBA’s Quick Turnaround is Coming Back to Bite Them in Playoffs with Injuries to Stars

Bad News

Los Angeles Clippers superstar forward Kawhi Leonard suffered a knee injury in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Reports are that it’s feared to be a torn ACL which would, obviously, knock him out of the postseason.

James took to social media to voice his displeasure retroactive to the quick turnaround after last season. In a four-part Twitter thread, the 17-time All-Star began by saying “They all didn’t wanna listen to me about the start of the season. I knew exactly what would happen” before sending prayers to Leonard on his recovery.

He (Leonard) just the latest in a long line of big-name players to be sidelined due to injury this season. It’s a season, by the way, in which studies have shown a major increase in soft-tissue injuries.

ESPN broke the story and mentioned the impact was magnified amongst the game’s stars.

Throughout the season we lost superstars like James, James Harden, James’ teammate, Anthony Davis, and so many more. It stands to reason as they are on the floor and have the ball the most. We know that. And, to James’s point, they put the most stress on their body. This is where the sympathy for the players ends, though.

If You Only Knew

Not to pick on James, but he is the vocal face of the league and spoke on this in real-time. His entire thread is flawed. Remember this story about the Lakers and Clippers, led by James and Leonard, nearly walking out of a meeting in the bubble after voting to cancel the playoffs?

How, then, are we supposed to rally behind the players when they apparently felt one way about starting the 2020-21 season but acted in another?

No, this isn’t slinging blame on the players for trying to protect their income. Anyone who works would likely have made the same decision. However, that person would not then get to stand on the other side and point a finger if things didn’t work out.

Would this be the stance if the Lakers were still alive in the postseason? Maybe, but chances are you wouldn’t hear it voiced in this fashion.

Maybe the frustration of it all played a part in lashing out. But players legitimately almost kept the bubble from happening. Why then couldn’t they combine the forces of what is viewed as one of the stronger player unions in pro sports and hold off the start of the season? If they truly “know about the body and how it works all year round”, then why not present that information?

Injuries Making NBA, Star Players Feel Effects of Quick Turnaround

The answer put simply is they made a business decision. When weighing the risks of playing after such little time off versus those of missing out on salary. Again, it’s an understandable position to take for anyone, not just in regards to the NBA’s injuries.

Just don’t be surprised when the calls for sympathy or the “I told you so” attitude falls flat. You already knew what would happen!

Triple Zeros: Smooth Jazz Clips Los Angeles in Utah

Triple Zeros

Smooth Jazz Clips Los Angeles in Utah

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh talks NBA Playoffs and Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks chances now that they got a game against Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets. He also talks Utah Jazz dynamo Donovan Mitchell‘s dominance over Kawhi Leonard and the Los Angeles Clippers then sets the stage for Friday’s Hawks-76ers and Nuggets-Suns tilts.

Things switch over to the NFL as the preseason schedule was released, Aaron Rodgers remains steadfast in no longer playing for the Green Bay Packers, and Russell Wilson proves a previous talking point right. All that and much more!

Anchor | Apple

Be sure to follow on Twitter and Facebook (@JoshGBuck, @3ZerosPod, and ClockerSports.com) today!

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2021 Preseason Fantasy Quarterback Rankings

NFL training camps are starting up and that makes this the perfect time for preseason fantasy football rankings. Specifically, let’s get into whos and wheres of it all, ranking the top 12 players in each position group. First up on the board, the most important position in all professional sports: quarterback.

The rankings are based on a couple of criteria. First, the player’s individual situation (i.e. supporting cast, system, etc.). The second is past performance; was the player trending up, down, or are they poised for a bounceback? And the last part is the strength of their respective schedule. It’s important but last due to being so far from the season we don’t know for sure who will be good or not.

Ranking the Top 12 Fantasy Football Quarterbacks for 2021

1. Kyler Murray

Last year, we touted Kyler Murray as an MVP candidate. Things didn’t work out in that regard but Murray did finish 2020 as the fantasy QB2, behind only Allen. Well, this season he’s poised to do even more damage in his third year under Kliff Kingsbury and with an improved receiving corps.

A.J. Green has struggled to stay healthy but when right he is a difference-maker. Even if he continues to be unreliable, Arizona drafted Rondale Moore out of Purdue to join DeAndre Hopkins and Christian Kirk.

Don’t fret over the signing of James Conner. Neither he nor Chase Edmonds is workhorse material. Kenyan Drake had 239 carries (6th) and 10 touchdowns (10th) and Murray still was able to chip in 819 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. Murray’s production has increased each of his first two seasons.

2. Patrick Mahomes

“What once was, will be again” is the perfect way to describe what’s likely coming from the Kansas City Chiefs and 2018 NFL MVP, Patrick Mahomes. Last year, he missed a game and finished second in yards and fourth in touchdowns. We all know how the Super Bowl went for the Chiefs and they went out and did something about it this offseason, revamping their offensive line.

They did lose Sammy Watkins, but Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson are back. Both checked in ahead of Watkins in the pecking order last season. The retooled line could mean a heavier emphasis on the run. But with Andy Reid and Mahomes, it’s far more likely the latter returns to dominance. Especially with a schedule that is 10th-easiest, per FantasyPros.

3. Matthew Stafford

It’s possible no one is more excited for the upcoming season than new Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford. After spending 12 years toiling away with the Detroit Lions, it’s like going from a Ford Pinto to a Ferrari. In four years under head coach Sean McVay, L.A. has never ranked lower than 11th in yards. And, prior to finishing 22nd last season, the same was true of their scoring. Detroit has been top-10 in scoring just twice and yards three times.

Going from Jared Goff to Stafford should help get them back on track and even take them to new heights. Goff, who was never viewed by most as a franchise quarterback by most due to the hand-holding done by his coach, still finished last season as a low QB2 (21st). Stafford finished 18th in a rudimentary offense in Detroit. He also has a top-10 fantasy schedule and three tremendous wideouts in Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, and free-agent signee, DeSean Jackson.

4. Josh Allen

Last year’s QB1 doesn’t fall too far in our preseason rankings and even this dip shouldn’t be the result of regression from Josh Allen. Instead, teams will undoubtedly be more prepared for his passing ability and the Buffalo Bills should put greater emphasis on the ground attack in 2021. And, as has been the theme with our first two passers, he’s projected to have a soft schedule.

It’s not just happenstance that should see Allen right back near the top fantasy quarterbacks. Buffalo went out and added Emmanuel Sanders to last year’s receptions and receiving yards leader, Stefon Diggs, underrated slot man Cole Beasley, and last year’s rookie sensation Gabriel Davis. We could also see him run more to make up for any dip in his passing numbers.

5. Dak Prescott

Dak Prescott was QB4 through the first five weeks of the 2020 season. We all know what happened to him, but we may have forgotten that first part. Proclaiming himself healthy enough to play a game today, we should see the extended version of the preview from last year when the Cowboys led the league in total and passing yards with him under center.

Amari Cooper is coming off his third consecutive 100-yard season (his fourth in five years) and CeeDee Lamb should be even better in his sophomore campaign. Michael Gallup is in a contract year and could put up good numbers in search of big money. The x-factors could be tight ends Blake Jarwin and Dalton Schultz, the latter of which came on strong for Dallas. Their offensive line not holding up is the only thing that could hold them back.

6. Aaron Rodgers

Aaron Rodgers, the 2020 NFL MVP who led the league in completion percentage and touchdown passes, reportedly has no plans to return to Green Bay and play for the Packers in 2021. It’s new territory for everyone to have the reigning MVP trying to force his way off the team he won the award with. Not to mention, the Packers went to the NFC Championship Game after going 13-3 in the regular season.

That loss in the playoffs to the eventual Super Bowl winner Tampa Bay Buccaneers likely highlighted just how much was afforded to Tom Brady and highlighted how “little” the Packers have done for Rodgers who was QB3 in 2020 and has but one Super Bowl appearance/victory whereas Brady has seven wins in 10 appearances. The bottom line is if he reports as we eventually expect, don’t expect him to take it easy on opponents this season.

7. Russell Wilson

#LetRussCook is so 2020, the 2021 Seattle Seahawks plan to…let…Russ…Cook? Wait, what? That’s right, it seems after looking off Russell Wilson‘s overtures for more input, Pete Carroll and John Schneider (in that order) set about making it up to their seven-time Pro Bowl quarterback by beefing up his blocking, as he’d been requesting.

Wilson has been ranked outside the top-10 in fantasy quarterbacks just twice in his career and both times he was 11th. He was QB1 in ‘17, QB9 in ‘18, QB4 in ‘19, and QB6 last season. The dude is consistent. With the upgrade to his protection and D.K. Metcalf another year in and Gerald Everett stepping in at tight end, Wilson could be in for a monster campaign.

8. Tom Brady

All Tom Brady did in his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was throw for his most yards since 2015, the second-most yards of his career, oh, and win his seventh Super Bowl (number two for Tampa). He finished the season as QB8, his highest finish since 2017 when he was QB3. There isn’t much left to say.

Oh, the Bucs are practically returning their whole Super Bowl roster and Brady said that he wasn’t even fully comfortable with the playbook until “midway through” last season. The rest of the league should be on notice. In fact, we might have him ranked too low on this list. He could finish much, much higher.

9. Ryan Tannehill

It might surprise some to learn that Ryan Tannehill was a top-10 fantasy quarterback (QB7) last season. That’s probably because it was just his second time in the top-10; the last was in 2014 when he was QB8. Also, he has this guy named Derrick Henry who’s pretty good at running the football. So no one would blame you for not noticing Tannehill’s career-high 35 touchdown passes.

The Tennessee Titans want to ensure they get similar production from their quarterback. After losing Corey Davis to the Jets in free agency, they made one of the offseason’s biggest splashes in trading a second-round pick to the Falcons for Julio Jones. He should be able to replace Davis’ production and then some opposite A.J. Brown.

10. Lamar Jackson

2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson was also QB1 in fantasy that season. Last year, however, he regressed some and finished as QB10 as his production was down across the board as the Ravens, like many other teams, navigated COVID. His security blanket, tight end Mark Andrews, missed two games in protocol and Marquise Brown didn’t cut it as a number one receiver.

Enter free agent signee Sammy Watkins and 2021 first-round pick Rashod Bateman. Together they should give Jackson his best trio of receivers since he’s been a pro. Baltimore probably still lacks a true number one option at the wide receiver position, but at least they are trying to give Jackson more weapons. He does have one of the toughest schedules for quarterbacks, though.

11. Justin Herbert

In many ways, Justin Herbert should be poised to take a major leap forward this coming season. He finished last season in this same spot after getting the surprise nod in Week 1 and never looking back. He led all rookies in passing yards and touchdowns and finished sixth and 10th, respectively, in the NFL.

One thing could stand in Herbert’s way. Tight end Hunter Henry will be catching passes in New England this season after signing there as a free agent. The Chargers will try to replace his production (60 catches, 613 yards, and four touchdown grabs with journeyman Jared Cook but he’s never been the most consistent. Guess he’ll have to make do with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams (and running back Austin Ekeler).

12. Deshaun Watson

2020’s passing yards leader, Deshaun Watson threw a career-best 33 touchdowns, on a career-high 70.2 percent completion, with a career-low seven interceptions. He could put up better numbers for the Houston Texans this season, even if the Houston Texans record won’t have much to show for it. Will Fuller is gone but Brandin Cooks had over 1100 yards last season and Chris Conly arrives as a bigger body that can handle some of the verticality Fuller brought to the offense.

Watson is currently facing 22 civil suits stemming from alleged sexual misconduct. The outcome of that outweighs all of this. On the field, the Texans signed a trio of backs to join David Johnson in the backfield and upgraded the offensive line so they could look to run more this season. There are also rumors he could soon be on the move, assuming his legal issues get taken care of, with the Broncos listed as a potential landing spot. That would skyrocket him up this list.

2021 NFL Preseason Fantasy QB Rankings

We’ll revisit this as we get closer to the regular season. But it’s more likely the order changes than the actual names. Watson’s situation, for example, could shake up this entire list or even allow for a new name to make it on.

Triple Zeros: Clips and Salsa

Triple Zeros

Clips and Salsa

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh reacts to the first round of the NBA Playoffs continuing thanks to Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers Game 6 win over Luka Doncic and the Mavericks. He also takes a moment to acknowledge the feats of Devin Booker and Trae Young and shining brightest on the biggest stages. Then things switch over the NFL as the league is already pushing for an 18-game schedule. Plus Todd Gurley could re-unite with Jared Goff in Detroit, and so much more!

Anchor | Apple

5 Most Impactful Guards from the First Round of the NBA Playoffs

It Needs to Actually (Finally) Be ‘Dame Time’

Be sure to follow on Facebook and Twitter (@JoshGBuck, @3ZerosPod, and @ClockerSports) today!

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Clocker Sports

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It Needs to Actually (Finally) Be ‘Dame Time’

Perhaps for the first time in his career, following another early exit from the NBA Playoffs, it needs to actually be Dame Time. Damian Lillard, the Portland Trail Blazers otherworldly point guard, has been the consummate professional. It would take an entirely separate article to list all he’s done for the city of Portland and his hometown of Oakland. He even won the Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year award this season too, so…yeah.

Damian Lillard Needs to Be More Selfish After Early Exit from NBA Playoffs

There isn’t anything else he could do to be a better face of the franchise or role model.

Now that all of the pleasantries are out of the way, he needs to be more selfish and either demand better help or a ticket out of town.

Lillard has always said the right things in the public eye; never fully condemning coaches or teammates despite the numerous times they’ve let him down. We may have gotten a bit closer to him speaking out against his current situation after being eliminated from the playoffs in the first round for the fifth time in eight years.

He also posted this quote from the late Nipsey Hussle on Instagram.

The fact is this team has a ceiling even when they are at full strength. It’s time to go in a different direction. You’re going to hear all about potential destinations, Boston and Los Angeles among them.

Can They Keep Him and Actually Get Better?

One idea could be pairing Lillard with his friend, and fellow super-team naysayer, Bradley Beal. He too is suffering in an organization that is toiling away in anonymity. Washington made the playoffs this season but was unceremoniously dispatched by the 76ers, who were without Joel Embiid for most of Game 4 and all of the decisive Game 5.

Beal finished second in the NBA in scoring behind Stephen Curry and is/was eighth in the postseason. He (like CJ McCollum) is a scorer before anything else. But in addition to just being better at it, he has a more diverse scoring profile than what McCollum does.

This is obviously suggesting McCollum has to go to bring Beal West.

This is where it gets complicated, though. The Blazers don’t appear to have the requisite firepower to make it happen outside of McCollum. They don’t own their first-round pick this season and, one would assume, any future picks would be well outside of the lottery with a Lillard-Beal tandem.

Could Lillard make his way to Washington?

They do hold their own first-round pick and could include one or both of their last two first-rounders, Rui Hachimura and Deni Avdija, in any potential deal. Would that be enough to sway the Blazers?

Probably not barring a demand from Lillard himself and even then, once it’s made known he’s available, the teams chomping at the bit to get him will surely drive the price right out of the Wizards price range. It would take some sort of “do-right-by” agreement between the Blazers and Lillard which just doesn’t make much sense organizationally.

A Blazers-Wizards pact is certainly within the realm of possibility though that roster wouldn’t be viewed as a threat to the Bucks or Nets as currently constructed.

Indeed Boston is among the top expected bidders. But the Knicks have reportedly already started calling and don’t discount the Philadelphia 76ers should Embiid’s absence lead to Ben Simmons not being able to carry them through the next round.

Something Needs to Change for Lillard after Losing Early in Playoffs

Head coach Terry Stotts is a likely head to roll but the roster needs to be re-worked as well.

And, at this point, Lillard has proved all that he can on an individual level. It’s time for greater team successes. He can see what the Portland front office can do but after eight years, a change of scenery for him could be in order, wherever that may be.

He wouldn’t be the first superstar to leave the team that drafted him because they squandered years of his career. And he certainly won’t be the last. It needs to finally be Dame Time for real for Lillard. He needs to be more “selfish” to get what he deserves: a shot at a championship. He won’t get that in Portland the way things are.

5 Most Impactful Guards from the First Round of the NBA Playoffs

The first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs has been nothing short of exciting and there were several players who upped their level of play appropriately. Some are playing on the big stage for the first time and showing that they fit in just fine. Others have proven they still got it. And others still have reminded us that, to put it simply, this is what they do.

2021 NBA Playoffs 5 Most Impactful Guards

5. Ja Morant – G – Memphis Grizzlies

The Memphis Grizzlies go as Ja Morant goes. That’s not groundbreaking analysis; point guards typically dictate the flow of the game. Morant is also the face of the franchise and just oozing with talent. But there are (or were) questions about his game, both upon entering the NBA and in the playoffs. We’re getting our answers.

Morant has gone from averaging 19.1 points per game during the regular season to 31.0 in the playoffs, good for sixth in the field. Even without his 47-point explosion, he’d be over 25 PPG in the playoffs. What’s more, is he’s been able to improve (slightly) upon his 7.4 assists per (to 7.5) and cut his turnovers as well.

He’s also been more efficient from the floor overall, though his perimeter game has been almost non-existent. He was hitting his 3.8 triples per game at a  percent clip during the regular season but has hit just 22.7 percent of his 5.5 3PA in the postseason. If he can return next season with an improved jumper, the Grizz are going to be a problem.

4. Trae Young – G – Atlanta Hawks

Trae Young was once billed as the “next Stephen Curry” coming out of Oklahoma. He had made a name for himself for his scoring exploits and seemingly limitless range in college. His first couple of seasons saw him try to live up to that hype but to limited success, especially on the team level. Atlanta won 49 games over in his first two years. They won 41 this past season.

A big part of that was Nate McMillan taking over for Lloyd Pierce. The Hawks went 27-11 under the former Pacers coach’s guidance. But another, more unsung, part was forward John Collins calling Young out for his style of play. Now, Atlanta went just 11-16 between that and Pierce’s firing.

But perhaps that inspired Young, who had bumped heads with Pierce, to voice his displeasure to an ear that mattered. Whatever the case, McMillan has Young playing with a style more reminiscent of CP3 than Chef Curry. As the Hawks look to take down the Knicks in five games, their point guard is just scratching the surface of his abilities.

3. Dillon Brooks – G – Memphis Grizzlies

Yet another young Grizzlies player makes this list and this one is as much about his career to this point as it is what he’s done in the playoffs, which has been incredible. Dillon Brooks left college after his Oregon Ducks lost to two one-seeds and one two-seed in three tournament appearances. But during the draft process, he was picked apart.

Brooks is the rare NBA player whose wingspan is shorter than his actual height (Kelly Olynyk is another). He’s also not a great athlete so it’s not hard to see why scouts doubted him based on that. But his determination led him to turn himself into one of the better young perimeter defenders in the league. And during this postseason, he’s found his offense.

After scoring 20-plus points in 25 regular-season games, Brooks has scored more than that in all four of the Grizzlies playoff games. He’s averaging 25.5 points (up from 17.2 during the regular season) while sharing duties on the toughest defensive assignment. Now about those fouls…

2. Mike Conley – G – Utah Jazz

If the Utah Jazz complete the takedown of Memphis and make their way to greater pastures, they will in part have Mike Conley to thank. The 14-year vet has settled nicely into the fabric of the Utah Jazz who play with a sense of togetherness not seen since Conley’s “Grit & Grind’ Memphis teams.

Conley is averaging 20 points and 10 assists in four playoff games. In Game 1, when Donovan Mitchell missed with his ankle injury, Conley had 22 points and 11 dimes. He’s been steady as they come for his entire career but this time just feels like he’s making that much more of an impact.

Maybe that’s because this Jazz team is better (both in terms of talent and record) than any he had playing for the Grizzlies. Utah is the top seed in the West and has a chance to advance to the second round of the playoffs with a win over his former team on Wednesday. He had just 11 points and seven dishes on Monday, but with a closeout at hand, another double-double could be on deck.

1. Derrick Rose – G – New York Knicks

Derrick Rose and the New York Knicks are fighting for their playoff lives versus the deeper and more skilled Hawks. But individually, Rose has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence in the public eye. The former MVP (youngest in league history, in case you hadn’t heard) has bounced around since leaving the Bulls back in 2016.

Going from the Knicks to the Cavs to a cup of coffee with the Jazz to the Timberwolves to the Pistons and, finally, back to New York. Boy, should they be thanking their lucky stars he wanted to come back, this time to reunite with his former head coach with the Bulls and T’Wolves, Tom Thibodeau.

Rose has been the only consistent for the Knicks in the playoffs. He’s ahead of the 2021 Most Improved Player, Julius Randle, in points per game and not just by a little. He has a six-point edge! It’s hard to do over the slandering of Randle, but Rose’s performance deserves more praise especially considering the gravity of the situation.

Top Guards in the NBA Playoffs

This is just a shortlist of the guards who have had the biggest impact so far in the 2021 NBA Playoffs. We can do entire pieces on other positions. But guard play in the NBA is paramount these days. Who would you have on your list?

Triple Zeros: Phoenix’s Sun is Setting in Lakerland

Triple Zeros

Phoenix’s Sun is Setting in Lakerland

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh talks about Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns being up against it versus LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. He also goes into the state of the other series in the 2021 NBA Playoffs. Then things switch over to the NFL as the Julio Jones saga took another twist this week on national television. Also, do QBs like Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson mean it when they say they want out? All that and so much more!

Anchor | Apple

Chicago Bears Players with the Most to Prove in 2021

Be sure to follow on Facebook and Twitter (@JoshGBuck, @3ZerosPod, @ClockerSports) today!

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Triple Zeros: Kwame Got Time Today

Triple Zeros

Kwame Got Time Today

In this episode of Triple Zeros, Josh gives a quick recap of the drama between Kwame Brown, Matt Barnes, Stephen Jackson, and so many others, talks about his most dangerous teams in the NBA playoffs, and Kyrie Irving using all his PTO and still going 50/40/90. Then things switch over to the NFL as Julio Jones has been reportedly made available by the Atlanta Falcons, Jon Gruden heaping praise on Josh Jacobs, and the QB carousel that really wasn’t. All that and so much more!
 
Be sure to follow on Facebook and Twitter (@JoshGBuck, @3ZeroPod, @ClockerSports) today!
 

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Clocker Sports

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The Most Flawed Rosters in the NFL

We’re in a bit of a down period around the NFL so it’s time to see who has spent their time poorly and left their rosters deeply flawed. We’re three weeks removed from the 2021 NFL Draft, rookie mini-camps just took place, and we now await June 1 when teams will purge some higher-earning players. So…

Which Teams Have the Most Flawed Rosters in the NFL?

Las Vegas Raiders

2020 Record: 8-8

Key Additions: Yannick Ngakoue, Kenyan Drake, Solomon Thomas, John Brown

Key Losses: Rodney Hudson, Trent Brown, Gabe Jackson

Las Vegas is certainly taking a gamble in the 2021 season with how they re-worked their roster coming off of quarterback Derek Carr’s best year since 2016. They moved on from 60 percent of their starting offensive line, one of the best and most durable around the NFL. Detroit also gave up their fewest sacks since 2017. They took Alex Leatherwood to play right tackle but most considered him a late first-round prospect, if not a second-rounder. Vegas took him 17th overall.

They did something similar with Clelin Ferrell back in 2019. And while Pro Football Focus gave him a very good grade last season, the Raiders still had to go to free agency to find pass-rushing help. The return of Karl Joseph also doesn’t inspire much faith in a group that ranked 26th against the pass, but Trevon Moehrig might. It all still comes down to whether or not they can get to the quarterback with regularity this coming season.

It’s hard to say the Raiders got better in any area. In fact, it is much easier to make the case they have regressed in several key areas including the offensive line and in the wide receiver room, though the departed Tyrell  Williams was never healthy enough to make an impact. It could be a cursed year in Sin City.

Green Bay Packers

2020 Record: 13-3

Key Additions: None

Key Losses: Corey Linsley, Jamaal Williams, Christian Kirksey

Now, Green Bay isn’t really a big free-agent destination nor do they pursue them as most teams do. That being said, not adding anyone has rarely proven to be a successful endeavor, especially when that team has fallen short the past two years. Oh, and the Hall of Famer under center is reportedly unhappy too.

It needs to be said that, independent of the Aaron Rodgers situation, the Packers are actually handling everything about as well as you could want a front office to do. They addressed the defense and offensive line in the draft, retained their playmaking running back in Aaron Jones, and they get Devin Funchess in the mix after he opted out last season.

None of that will matter if Rodgers leaves, though. His gripe is understandable; Green Bay hasn’t used a first-round pick on an offensive weapon since drafting Rodgers. They’ve been tremendously successful given the constraints they operate under. But those are largely self-imposed and ticking off only the second starting quarterback in the last 30 years won’t make things any better.

Houston Texans

2020 Record: 4-12

Key Additions: Tyrod Taylor, Phillip Lindsay, Mark Ingram, Marcus Cannon, Desmond King, Christian Kirksey, Shaq Lawson

Key Losses: Benardrick McKinney

This is another team that, were it not for a quarterback controversy, would be mentioned among those having a solid if unspectacular offseason. The potential impact of Cannon and Lindsay on this offense shouldn’t go unnoticed. Mark Ingram is great for the locker room and Tyrod Taylor gives them a capable backup should something happen to Deshaun Watson (like a trade).

But Watson’s scandal has put Houston in a bind. They were adamant they wouldn’t move the 2020 passing yards leader when the offseason began. His off-the-field troubles with masseuses claiming impropriety had many writing the obituary for his career. Since then, though, the public rhetoric has died down and it seems he might find a way to make this “go away”.

That leaves Houston right back at square one and reports are they are willing to move him now but only for fair value. Having once thought they would be the winners in this situation no matter the outcome, they still can if they get the return they seek. But since they waited, the compensation teams can give up is far less. And we never even talked about the lack of a true number one wide receiver.

Detroit Lions

2020 Record: 5-11

Key Additions: Jared Goff, Tyrell Williams, Breshad Perriman, Jamaal Williams, Michael Brockers

Key Losses: Matthew Stafford, Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Duron Harmon

One of the NFL’s most wayward franchises, the Lions will now try to scuttle from under that dark cloud without the services of Matthew Stafford. Jared Goff comes from one of the best offensive systems in the league. He now joins one in Detroit that is, at best, a work in progress. Detroit has also lost the one advantage it often had over opposing defenses in their wide receivers. Williams and Perriman are several classes below Golladay and Jones.

Detroit did snag the top offensive lineman, Penei Sewell, in the 2021 NFL Draft. They heavily fortified the defensive line as well. Most successful teams are built in the trenches so it may very well be that the Lions are on the right path. But this was a team that was supposed to be a contender when they had a better roster.

This, again, isn’t to say the Lions aren’t on the right path. It’s just hard to believe they will be able to get more out of Goff than the Rams did, let alone more than they (Detroit) were able to get out of Stafford. Looks like another season of no playoffs is on the way for the Lions in Dan Campbell’s (who was their second choice by the way) first season.

The NFL’s Most Flawed Rosters

This is not a definitive list. Any number of teams could have made it or be added later. But for now, these are the teams with the most imbalanced rosters around the NFL. We still have June 1 cuts where we’ll see a number of big names released. This could lead to a few of the teams listed above plugging enough holes to get by or resolving whatever issues they have with personnel.