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"Father Time" Remains Defeated Against Julius Peppers

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"Father Time" Remains Defeated Against Julius Peppers

As a mixture of Panthers and Patriots fans collectively bellowed their reactions on February 1, 2004 at the culmination of Super Bowl 38, Julius Peppers solemnly looked on. The red, white and blue confetti streaming down from the rafters of Reliant Stadium all the while without hindrance to celebrate a second New England Super Bowl title in three years. They would also be grimly celebrating the last time Peppers would see that stage for, so far, the duration of his career. 13 years later on February 5, 2017, Peppers will possibly be presented with the opportunity to right that unacceptable wrong. Even more fitting to his tale, that opportunity would come at the same stadium located in Houston, Texas, now renamed NRG Stadium.

It's been over 16 years since Peppers chose to forgo his senior year at North Carolina and declare as an eligible participant in the 2002 NFL Draft. From the first day the Carolina Panthers selected Peppers at second overall, the lineman-converted linebacker was already expected to do monumental things at the professional level. Rightfully so, considering his ability to control a game was compared to the likes of Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor — the man Peppers would eventually surpass on the all-time sack list.

Praised for his work ethic and what teammate Clay Matthews would call, "a model of consistency", Peppers enters his 15th NFL campaign and his third in Green Bay. Ringless and more motivated now than ever, Peppers still continues to chase the Super Bowl ring that would ultimately complete a career that has encompassed 136 sacks and 638 tackles. 36 is a mere number for Peppers, which on paper, would total the amount of years he's served on this Earth.

12 years ago, as a young, second-year player, he watched as Adam Vinatieri crushed what has been the closest Peppers has come to a championship. Now, that bottomless void that only a Super Bowl ring can fill may be the driving force behind what keeps Peppers going.

Despite coming off of a 10.5-sack season, the Packers plan to use Peppers sparingly in 2016. Maybe not on a pitch count, but utilizing his mental acuteness on the inside specifically during passing situations is something defensive coordinator Dom Capers and linebackers coach Winston Moss seem to relish. If it were up to Peppers, you could probably bet a paycheck that he'd want to brave the workload for 1,000 defensive snaps — exactly 300 more than what he managed in 2015. 

Luckily for the Packers, mapping out the roles Peppers could transition to takes flexibility at the outside linebacker position — something they finally have. 

Many were quick to count out the former first-round pick out of USC Nick Perry, and rightfully so. Perry's luck with injuries in recent years haven't exactly been ideal and have halted what could've been substantial development as a player. However, when he's at full force, Perry has proven to be an edge-rusher that can terrorize the tackles trying to fend him off. Even guards aren't safe, as Perry has also shown he can put pressure on the opposing quarterback when bursting through the shoulders of a guard and tackle. 

The move Datone Jones made to outside linebacker over this past off-season has also fared well in his preseason action, making up for the subpar debut from Kyler Fackrell. While Jayrone Elliott is another option on the edge, his worst enemy at the moment is staying healthy as well. His quick start in 2015 both defensively and on special teams was progressively slowed down due to a quad injury that hampered for the majority of the season. In 2016, he'll aim to pick up where he left off and leave his mark on the field as well as he does in the community, being the newest recipient of the 2016 community service award. An honor that Packers' inside linebacker Sam Barrington once sported proudly a year ago.

The situation behind Peppers isn't awful, nor is it eye-popping by any means, but the depth and the flexibility that depth provides gives Capers a lot more room to operate with his group.

After the upcoming season, Peppers will have a football decision to make. It may all depend on whether or not the pieces fall into place and the Packers are crowned World Champions in February. Peppers' contract will expire, and while resigning him to a one-year deal may be an option, there's no telling if Peppers, who will be 37 by then, will even want to continue his pursuit of a championship. Either the storybook career will refrain from its proper ending, or Peppers will hoist the Lombardi Trophy alongside his teammates and ride off into the sunset. Much like Jared Allen, whose ultimate objective never came to fruition, yet he sits tied with Peppers at ninth on the all-time sack list.

__________________________

Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (43) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Nick Perry's picture

I think a huge key to this season will be Perry's health, if Perry stays healthy this allows the Packers to use Peppers the way they want to, rushing the passer. A fresh Julius Peppers lining up all over the defense to go with Matthews, Jones, Perry and Daniels gives the Packers 5 good to excellent Pass Rushers.

The less Peppers plays early in the year the better for the Packers. Having him "Fresh" in December and January could be the difference for the Packers this season. I've said numerous times 50 plus sacks is realistic for this Defense this year, especially when you consider the Secondary the Packers have. Throw Martinez into the mix and the Packers seem to have it all covered.

Reggie came here and got a ring, Peppers should have had it in 2014. The Packers are built to win now, THIS Season. I can already see it, Peppers running around NRG Stadium with the Lombardi Trophy held high. Just like Reggie.

dobber's picture

"I think a huge key to this season will be Perry's health"

Couldn't agree more. While he's flashed in pass rush, he's stout against the run and will soak up significant early down reps. The less Jones and Peppers have to play against the run, the better off the Packers will be.

I'll be honest: at this point, I don't see this defense as being any better than last year's. Too many unanswered questions, especially in the front 7. We won't know if they're any better until Jacksonville when they have to play a full game against #1s...or potentially until week 5 or 6 when suspended players come back.

Michalske's picture

Or until early December, when we play against teams with top tier defenses ant it may be up to our D to keep us in the game.

Or until the playoffs, when that old proverb about winning championships come true (and we see once again whether a Capers defense staffed by TT's draft and develop youngsters can play a win or go home game without a fatal rookie braincramp.)

Last year's D, especially the level it achieved in December and January, is still being underrated by a lot of people. In spite of talent level, they were playing extremely well in late December through January. That said, I agree we have better chances with higher quality backups at LB, helping to save Peppers legs and let Clay rush from more angles.

holmesmd's picture

Defense was the strength of the team last year. I think they also played very good situational defense during key moments. Even the pundits acknowledged the stout nature of the defense. So they were above average last year but no better this season? I don't see that at all. These guys could be a top 10 defense and that's all they need to be. The offense will probably score 30+ points per game! The defense sure won't average giving up that many!

holmesmd's picture

Guion & Pennel are at least as good Asa reluctant Raji was. Perhaps not his rookie year, but certainly after that.

RCPackerFan's picture

I agree about Perry. But will also add Jones to that list. Both players have been hampered by injuries throughout their careers.

Having a healthy rotation will keep everyone fresh and will allow them to be more productive.

I agree with the 50 sacks part. They have a really good pass rush, and a good secondary.
Another aspect that could really increase the sacks is if the offense puts up a lot of points, it will force teams to throw more, which will create more opportunities for more sacks.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

Yep, the more they can rotate all of those guys the better. Tackles tend to get into a rhythm if they see they same guy over and over. It will also be much better if none of them sees over 600 snaps so that they can stay healthy and fresh.

marpag1's picture

I find it shocking - yes, SHOCKING!! - that this article does not even mention how Peppers miraculously defeated the assured predictions of our bovine buddy, CowREBORN, who said that Peppers and CM3 would both miss time due to PED suspensions. How did Peppers manage that? Does this mean that Cow can be wrong???

Ama just leave these quotes here, if y'all don't mind...

CowREBORN says
June 24, 2016 at 03:52 pm

… the league would not have made these interviews public unless it knew that there's more than just "smoke" involved. Charlie Sly "recanting" means nothing... if there's more evidence (financial records, delivery records, etc.). The league would not be moving forward on this unless it had something. There's "fire" here... make no mistake.

CowREBORN says:
June 28, 2016 at 01:20 pm

This is about to become the "deflategate" of this offseason. Buckle up. Ain't gonna be pretty. (P.S. - You can all say it... "You were right, Cow." Go ahead... I won't gloat.)

CowREBORN says:
June 29, 2016 at 06:19 am

I can't think of a single instance where the NFL had no evidence but went ahead and made a PED investigation public. But, hey, these are Packer players... they can't be guilty... obviously the league is trying to make itself look good by going public with a PED investigation it knows has no legs... pffffff.

CowREBORN says:
August 16, 2016 at 09:02 pm

You're assuming the NFL doesn't have any other "evidence". It might. Face it... If the names involved were "Jamie Collins" and "Dant'a Hightower" everyone on this board would be using amusing little terms like "Cheatriots" and "Belicheat".

Remember when I called this? Remember when I predicted Clay and Pep would miss games and end the season with less than 6 sacks combined?

Welp.

Zachary Jacobson's picture

I wanted to leave that to you guys. :) You'd do better shredding Cow in the comments than I would in the article.

dobber's picture

I've said in the past that I value Cow's presence here. He tends to put us on the defensive, which is good. Makes us think.

That said, I enjoyed reading this...

jeremyjjbrown's picture

COW is wrong a lot. I've never seen an article here mention a commenter. It would be a bad prescident I think to start with COW.

chugwater's picture

I think the closest was the Gut Reactions after the 2014 NE game where Aaron simply started off his comments with 'Bye Cow.'

Bearmeat's picture

I've finally figured out your online species.

You are the evil love child of a menege a trois party: the unfortunate participants being a bovine, a troll and Eeyore. The result is something akin to a angry, depressed and rebellious teenage boy, except with less humanity, less shame and more pimples.

:D

marpag1's picture

You are in my head? LOL. Indeed, very few things, having once entered my head, will ever leave that place... such as this prediction you made that Ty Montgomery will never take another snap for the Green Bay Packers.

holmesmd's picture

Your own head is in your anal canal;) Lol. Booooo!

holmesmd's picture

Your own head is in your anal canal;) Lol. Booooo!

lucky953's picture

Very nicely written tribute to a future HOFer. 10 more sacks this year is a reasonable expectation. We all hope he goes out on top.

lucky953's picture

Funny thing is, just yesterday I was thinking about what a service Cheesehead TV writers provide to us. The commentaries often go off on tangents that ignore the writer's efforts, but these guys keep writing and giving us opportunities to talk about our favorite team. I thought,"Maybe it's not so easy to do this" and I was feeling some appreciation. So: Thanks to all the Cheesehead Tv writers (and try not to take us fanatics personally)!!!

Zachary Jacobson's picture

Much love. It's really our pleasure providing the content for you guys. Even better doing so when the team we love has such a passionate fanbase.

Zachary Jacobson's picture

Cool. Thanks for reading. :)

RCPackerFan's picture

Hopefully if Peppers decides to retire after this year, that he will be going out on top with a Ring on his finger!

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I don't think we will know if Peppers has defeated father time until September. Sure hope so, because we might need those 8 - 10 sacks.

MarkinMadison's picture

It's September. :-0

Tundraboy's picture

All intertwined with Perry's health. Im glad that TT saw what we did. Neal ok, Perry coming into his own. Heres hoping Peppers training and health history continues and has rubbed off on Perry.

Tarynfor12's picture

The fact Peppers needs to have his snaps/play time reduced indicates the loss to Father Time. The fact that Perry is being touted as his aide in getting him the sips of water from the Fountain of Youth to be young again, in fewer games, needs to be reined in, until Perry shows consistent play immediately early and often.
Perhaps a drink from that Fountain of Youth would be good for all, since the Perry resurrection to elite, as boasted in another article, is old as is my opposing mindset of him has been, until he actually lives up to such, in a full slate of games with meaning as the journey for #5 begins.

Zachary Jacobson's picture

He consistently forms an impact in games every year, regardless of his age. Whether 23 or 35. He had 10.5 last season, so I wouldn't call it a loss just yet. The pitch count is more to preserve him than anything, not because he's incapable. At least that's what I believe.

Tarynfor12's picture

The pitch count is a politically correct way of saying he can't play to the levels of past, far or recent, while not saying the high hope has diminished.
I'm not saying saving him isn't right, I'm just not buying Perry based on his last two games. I hope Perry plays great but it takes much more to erase 4 years of nothing. Anything he gives to secure the #5 SB will be appreciated.

Zachary Jacobson's picture

I totally get you. Here's to hoping Perry and Peppers can both have a great year.

Spud Rapids's picture

The advantage of a pitch count keeps everyone fresh and get's Datone, Perry, Fackrell chances to rush at full speed all the time every time. It plays into the rotation and is a luxury that the Packers can do this. how many other teams couldn't afford to have him on a pitch count? It's a testament to the accumulated talent

Tarynfor12's picture

I honestly cannot wait to see Perry and his ability to scare the sh% t out of left tackles and guards and the very grass he steps upon. : )

Steve Cheez's picture

#5? Don't you mean #14?

Tarynfor12's picture

14 for the overall history yes, but the vast majority of fans and media only make noise with Super Bowl Championships. Those titles are arguments for the name if Title Town, but we are not that in the SB Era and that's where your nowadays bravados resides....sorry. : )

Tundraboy's picture

World Championships are World Championships.

holmesmd's picture

Lol. 2 teams have wine more SB's than the Packers in the last decade, the Steelers & the Giants. SMH. GB has been in the post season & won the division for much of that decade. What you're saying not only isn't true, but it makes no sense. You can't win the SB every year and that's not a realistic metric to measure the quality of an NFL Team. If you perinnially make the playoffs, you have a shot. I think playoff participation is a more accurate metric to evaluate an NFL Team, not strictly SB titles. Sure that's the goal fo every team, but there is a considerable amount of "luck" that goes into winning a SB. Playoff contention is based upon a greater body of work, as in 16 games...not 1. You can't win if you don't play...and then you still may not win. Ask the 49'ers. Lol

holmesmd's picture

I'm assuming you've never been an athlete, much less a generational pro athlete. Why are you attempting to interpret what a "snap count" means? Are you an NFL coach or personnel executive? Lol. You're certainly entitled to your opinion but you might want to defer to people that have exponentially more experience and credentials than you do, as far as NFL Football goes. Just sayin;)

Tarynfor12's picture

Like any position in any field, there is always one that knows more even if they don't work in the field.
MM likely knew more while working in a toll booth than some in the NFL at one point. I'm not saying I know more but I certainly know enough without having to have been an athlete or coach, just like many a media guru of esteem. : )

holmesmd's picture

Uumm... no.lol

Bearmeat's picture

I don't want to be Johnny Raincloud here, but calling Perry "an edge rusher who has proven he can terrorize tackles when healthy" is about as far from the truth as me saying that I am 6'5" 245 and can run like a deer.

Perry (and Datone even moreso) has had like 3 good games in his career. I HOPE he turns a corner. I hope they both do for that matter. But I'm not holding my breath. 5th year players don't usually blow up. If he hasn't done it by now, he probably won't.

I'm thinking the pass rush will have to come from Pep and CM3 again and that's it.

I want to be wrong. And if I am, then the D will be fantastic.

Tarynfor12's picture

It must feel good to dis Perry and not see the dislike clicks climb or suffer the verbal abuse as another who offers same. : )

Tarynfor12's picture

I've grown to relish them. : )

LAS VEGAS-TOM's picture

Hi Tarynfor12, LVT here. What's your thoughts for the season. Last I looked on the board GB was #1. Didn't look last week. I have GB @ 7 1/2
I'm pulling for SD on the other side. They picked up Jones. Hope he does well. LVT

Tundraboy's picture

I believe you are underestimating the number of good games and at least 3 were last year, 2 when it mattered most.

holmesmd's picture

Perry has an impressive sack productivity in the playoff action he's seen. We don't know what he can do on a regular basis because he's rarely been healthy! The guy certainly has showed up in big games and yes, he was very disruptive. Give him credit for that at least! He needs to establish consistency and stay healthy, that's it.:)

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