Packers Counting on Julius Peppers for a Big Year

There is a lot to like about the 13-year Green Bay Packers veteran Julius Peppers.  And the production that both he and Reggie White recorded at the same age while sporting a Packers uniform is quite impressive.

Before I begin let’s get something out of the way.

Current Green Bay Packers defender Julius Peppers is no Reggie White.  Then again, neither is anyone else.

Having said that, there is a lot to like about the 13-year Green Bay Packers veteran Julius Peppers.  And the production that both he and White recorded at the same age while sporting a Packers uniform is quite impressive.

Both Reggie White and Julius Peppers came to the Packers later in their careers after achieving stardom elsewhere.  Reggie White helped the Packers achieve what they hadn’t done in 29 years – win a Super Bowl.

Can 35 year-old Julius Peppers have a Reggie White type impact at the same stage in his career?

At $12M per year, the third highest salary on the roster, you can bet that the Green Bay Packers believe he can.

During year-one with the Packers the former Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears defensive lineman lined up for the first time predominantly as a stand-up outside linebacker – 74% of the time.  The results were impressive as Peppers was arguably their best linebacker from start to finish. 

Peppers played in every game forcing four fumbles and recording seven sacks.  He recorded a team-high turnover total of 11 which exceeded any Packers defender who was not a DB in more than 25 years. He picked off two passes (11 for his career) and returned those interceptions (49 and 52 yards) for TDs.  Peppers may have single-handedly preserved the victory over the Cowboys in the playoffs with what was probably the most spectacular play by a defender all season long - the strip of Dallas' DeMarco Murray on the outside to save a 59-yard TD.

Reggie White came to the Packers in his ninth NFL season and his year-thirteen stats (1997) included 11 sacks – four more than Peppers.  White notched 31 solo tackles and 16 assists that year.    He returned for year fourteen to record the fourth highest sack total of his career with 16 and added 33 solo tackles and 13 assists.  Although it was to be White’s last year in Green Bay, he was clearly productive at age 36.

As for Julius Peppers he keeps his body in great shape, and although a quieter version of the vocal Reggie White, he commands respect with his peers in the locker room.   

There were many who speculated that the Packers would restructure Peppers contract to reflect a more team-friendly cap number for the upcoming season.  The Packers however thought enough of Peppers to honor his current contract as-is.

After the past season which ended with a crushing collapse in Seattle, Head Coach Mike McCarthy said,   “He (Peppers) had a great year. He made an impact both on the field, and in the locker room.”

And then there is the edge.  For all his personal accomplishments Julius Peppers has one huge unattained goal for his NFL career.   That being a Super Bowl ring.

The Green Bay Packers are the Las Vegas favorite this year to bring home the Lombardi Trophy from San Francisco.  And should the Packers accomplish that feat you can bet that Julius Peppers will have played a big part in getting there.

He may not be Reggie White, but at this stage of his career you can count on Julius Peppers to have a major impact just as The Minister of Defense did back in 1998.  How fitting it would be for Julius Peppers to go out a champion with the Green Bay Packers. 

 

 

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Comments (27)

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WKUPackFan's picture

July 24, 2015 at 07:14 am

Julius is an impressive athlete, anyone who saw him play basketball at UNC knows that. His contributions last year were huge. One could go so far as to say Julius is the second playmaker the defense needed. Hope he can squeeze one more year out!

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Bearmeat's picture

July 24, 2015 at 07:26 am

Yep. And there's the rub. Can he play again like he did last year? If not, the D is in trouble.

The sneaky need in this team was for a young playmaking OLB to pair with CM3. Especially since he's playing ILB so much. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't worried about the front 7 after this year. The only young play maker in that unit is Daniels and CM3. Not enough.

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MarkinMadison's picture

July 24, 2015 at 07:50 am

I think we can quit calling CM3 young. Maybe the board just was not stacked right this year, but I was surprised when I checked back in with the world and found out that the Packers went DB, DB, WR in the first three rounds. TT needs to find some linebackers. Ironic that it has been a chronic issue given that TT played the position and given that the body type is good for special teams. Great 3-4 teams have great linebackers. The Pack is weak at ILB (if you don't want to count CM3 there).

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cpheph1's picture

July 25, 2015 at 07:31 pm

Concur CM3 is not young by NFL standards. I think the LB core of CM3, Peppers, Neal, Perry, & Barrington is better than advertised. Neal & Perry are working for a new contract so they'll definitely be motivated. Health remains the biggest concern IMO.

I really like Elliott & hope Hubbard can contribute...they could be cheap insurance for Neal and/or Perry. UDFA and develop worked at CB so why not LB too?

I think Ted keeps 10 LB. Maybe Bradford is #9 or maybe he's cut...the last 3 LB spots are wide open at this point. Bottom line is CM3 & Peppers' health and performance is the key to this defense for the front six (I consider nickel to be their primary defense).

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MarkinMadison's picture

July 24, 2015 at 07:45 am

Who knows when the bottom will drop out? I think being out of the trenches a majority of the time will certainly help. As long as he is not just getting out muscled and pushed around he is smart enough and agile enough (for his size) to continue to be productive. As far as restructuring goes: (a) TT likes pay-as-you-go; (b) with that kind of production no way Peppers takes a pay cut; and (c) if the Packers had pushed Peppers' agent would have had some "non-conversations" with four teams within 24 hours. Leaving it alone this year was the only realistic choice.

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cpheph1's picture

July 25, 2015 at 07:46 pm

I think Mike Daniels gets pushed around more than Peppers...but love both players.

I think Peppers has plenty left in his tank but it's going to be hard to replicate his 2014 stats (turnover plays).

Concur with everything you said regarding contract restructuring...well said.

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RCPackerFan's picture

July 24, 2015 at 07:50 am

Towards the end of the year, they were reducing Peppers snaps. Which I think is what they need to do again this year. I would honestly like to see them take him out of base defense and play him in the sub packages. Which is probably 50-60% of the time anyways.
I would like to keep him as fresh as possible for the end of the season.

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Bearmeat's picture

July 24, 2015 at 08:22 am

Which leads us back to a young guy needing to step up or were in trouble.

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Idiot Fan's picture

July 24, 2015 at 10:07 am

I mentioned this in another thread, but I actually think OLB is the position of most concern to me. More than CB.

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Bearmeat's picture

July 24, 2015 at 11:18 am

Yep. TT went with the board I"m sure. But 2 CBs and a WR to start the draft.... wow...

OLB/ILB/DL and even TE were positions that GB needs attention at. You can't tell me they didn't value anyone that fell to them in any of those spots before round 4.

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Jersey Al's picture

July 25, 2015 at 03:20 pm

In the pass-centric modern NFL, wide receivers and cornerbacks are the positions of value and ones where you want plenty of depth. I totally get why the Packers did what they did in the draft, but admittedly, I would have taken Stephone Anthony...

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Guisado's picture

July 24, 2015 at 11:46 am

TT trusts his coaches and philosophy. OLB is a little crowded. Mulumba, Hubbard, Elliot...you have to give those guys the opportunity to step up. Neal and Perry have one last chance to prove themselves. No certainties, but you gotta roll the dice and expect at least one of that bunch will be that extra OLB..

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cpheph1's picture

July 25, 2015 at 07:51 pm

My perception is they're in nickel or dime 75% or more...but could easily be wrong.

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Tarynfor12's picture

July 24, 2015 at 08:46 am

" The results were impressive as Peppers was arguably their best linebacker from start to finish."

Using this article as a whole and this sentence to a finer point for my questions.

Which one between Peppers and Matthews is more likely able to keep the SB as close a reality without the other as is the prediction with both?

The level of hope pertaining to Peppers equaling at least last years play seems scary when considering the OLB depth if Matthews is needed to be more the regular ILB and the same sense if Matthews needs to remain more so at OLB because of the OLB depth minus Peppers thus leaving the ILB minus Matthews at possible levels below that which we have slid by on or been subjected to depending on one's own thinking.

Can Peppers get the needed decrease in snaps (rest) required via the play of Perry and Neal or another if Matthews is out of the picture and can Matthews do enough at ILB if Peppers is gone and Perry and Neal are needed to be the everyday OLB duo?

This doesn't allow for the 'roving' expectations of Matthews since as each question has one or the other gone and relying on who's left at OLB and ILB which at this moment would diminish the 'roving' ability hoped to come from Matthews if a full LB corps were available weekly.

Is the SB appearance and expected victory dependent to such a high degree of having both Peppers and Matthews that the loss of either for significant time this season is not bearable.

This is for a defense picture only and not to be answered,hopefully,via the automatic...the offense will score 50+ a game and compensate for it...since we all know that's bs.

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MarkinMadison's picture

July 24, 2015 at 09:44 am

1) Matthews.

2) No question in this sentence/paragraph. Yes, it is scary. TT either needs to spend more or find more for LB to solve the problem (see the metrics the other day re spending on LB) but that ain't how he rolls.

3) No, and yes.

4) No question in this sentence/paragraph, but I agree with you.

5) Probably yes.

6) Agreed.

Writing more than one sentence per paragraph is nice. Makes it easier to follow what you are saying. :-)

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Tarynfor12's picture

July 24, 2015 at 09:54 am

I should have numbered the questions but thanks for simply answering the non questions with politeness as this error by me could open the door for unneeded ridicule by some or a one. :)

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 24, 2015 at 02:05 pm

Nice Job, Mark. Taryn posed good questions in her usual style, which sometimes needs to be disinterred but is usually worth the effort. I agree with your answers, and I agree Taryn that these are salient questions.

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Bearmeat's picture

July 24, 2015 at 10:34 am

Right. But that's the thing. Thompson has constructed the roster to complement Rogers. If you look at the patriots or the Saints or even the Broncos the construction of the roster is the same. There's only so much cap space to go around.

That said I think we know that the defense will not be a top three unit this year. If they can manage top 15 is what we're really worried about. If they can they will be the Super Bowl favorites by January. Of course assuming health.

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ray nichkee's picture

July 24, 2015 at 10:53 am

I have no problem thinking peppers can contribute this year after seeing what he did in the playoffs last year. Barring injury i cant see his production dropping off like a cliff.

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croatpackfan's picture

July 24, 2015 at 11:10 am

As I understood following Packers, Packers Nation likes to worry. About anything. If you mention QB - immediately there is worrying about Aaron's possible injury... If you mention DL, Raji and Guion, Datone and Boyd are no good, if you mention DB we can not cover, LB & DL can not stop the run, we sucks all together. Sure!

That is why guys in Las Vegas put Packers as main favorites to win SB 50...

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 24, 2015 at 02:09 pm

LOL. But there is some realism being expressed, too, Croat. There aren't hardly any posts like you describe about the offense, other than QB health.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 24, 2015 at 02:41 pm

Nice article, Jeff. There are areas of comparison btw Peppers and White, but it is mostly on the surface, like age and being FAs. Peppers got good money, but White got elite money, and White still was elite for the first several years of his contract, whereas Peppers has been above average, not elite, and the jury is out on yrs. 2/3.

Peppers is the 6th highest paid OLB (but mentally lower that since his guaranteed part was only 28%). I thought he earned the $8.5 million he pocketed last year, but just barely. This year he will take home $9.5 million. I hope he plays fewer snaps to stay fresh, and that in yr. 2 he becomes more comfortable at OLB and does the things that are hard to see on the tube better, like cover, and the other intangibles, and of course does not physically decline. I wondered if TT would ask for a restructure of his contract, but TT did not. Probably the right call though I doubt that Peppers is actually going to be worth $9.5 million.

I note that of the 30 GMs in the league (2 GMs own their teams and don't count here), only 7 GMs have held the same job in 2009. In comparison, TT has been our GM since 2005.

Word is that NO is about to cut OLB Junior Galette, age 27, who they just extended in 2014, despite 10 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and 33 tackles in 13 games, due to some off the field issues involving violence. Cutting Galette means NO will take a $17 million dead money hit over 2 years ($5.3 this yr. and a massive $12 million cap hit in 2016). Thank God TT doesn't make mistakes like this - followed immediately and hypocritically by thoughts on how he would look in the green and gold.

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EddieLee's picture

July 25, 2015 at 09:26 am

I guess I am in the minority on Peppers. I think he disappeared for long stretches of games and whole chunks of the season last year. He was non-existent in that Dallas game until his fumble punch. I think it is overly optimistic that he has a huge impact next season. I think the Packers are stuck with his contract because of their need at OLB and not because they love his production and want to pay him that much. They have failed to find his replacement so they have few options with his deal.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

July 25, 2015 at 10:56 am

I don't agree entirely, EddieLee, but I do think there has been some revisionist history going on about the actual level of Peppers' play. IMO, he was above average overall, and probably earned the $8.5 million he took home, but just barely, He absolutely had stretches where he was not impactful. My hope is that he will be more comfortable at OLB and will play a bit faster, and provide better coverage. The drop off to Neal is readily apparent. We can hope for one of the young guys to blossom. Probably need to keep Peppers at the 35-40 snaps/game level.

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Crackerpacker's picture

July 26, 2015 at 02:30 am

Best option of course is to dominate time of possession. Easier said than done, But if we can do it this will keep Peppers fresher without having to miss any plays.

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4thand1's picture

July 26, 2015 at 09:34 am

Peppers only has one flaw IMO. Telling people to slide after a game saving INT! wtf,wtf,wtf! Ok out of my system, on to training camp, GOPACKGO

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EddieLee's picture

July 26, 2015 at 11:39 am

McGinn on Peppers after the Saint's game:

"...he can stand up, show his numbers, let tight ends wash him inside and offer next to nothing getting his hat to the ball. For all his bountiful gifts, Peppers isn't the most gung-ho guy."

I remember a 4-5 game stretch in the season he was just bad. No sacks. No big plays. He seemed uninspired and unmotivated. That was his knock in Chicago also. But then he pops for a few games but only in spurts. By the end of the year Capers had him watching on the sidelines for half the snaps.

I am not saying he is awful. I think he can make big plays and when motivated be outstanding. At times he can be a force against the run still. The Packer defense is better with him on it considering the roster behind him. I am just saying that I hope the Packers are not counting on him to be consistent difference maker. He wasn't last year and he is a year older. Do 7 sacks become 4? I think fans enamored by splash plays forget about his ineffectiveness for big chunks of games and the season. And, if the Packers had anything behind him there is no way they would pay him that much this year especially if only in the game for 35-40 snaps.

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