Bob Fox over at Bleacher Report provided us with an interesting look the other day from NFL scout scout Chris Landry on his take regarding how much Green Bay Packers newly-acquired defensive end Julius Peppers has left in his tanks.
While Landry couched his comment in caution, he seems to edge on the side that Peppers has certainly seen his best days, but also leaves the door open on the “one more year” talk that’s been circulating the Interweb.
When asked by Fox to give his best assessment of the Packers’ signing of Peppers, here is what he had to say:
I hope he does well for Green Bay’s sake. I don’t know if he has much left. You wonder if you can get another good year out of him. Maybe he’s motivated now. He’s got a little bit of money guaranteed. He’s certainly a declining player. And the issue is whether he has another year left that can help them (the Packers) out. Looking at him on tape, I was kind of on the side of that he’s probably done. But one more (good) year is very possible.
Fox admits he’s surprised by the comments by Landry – and so am I. We have to remember that Peppers played on a defense that has been on a free-fall the past couple of seasons, a defense that was killed by injuries, and a defense that just couldn’t stop the run … period.
Next year, if everyone stays healthy, Peppers will be welcomed by defensive mates who will definitely benefit from his presence – and will probably also make him better. Regardless of whether the Packers play the 3-4 or some sort of hybrid defense that employs nuances from both systems, I feel that Peppers could not only have a decent year, but could step up his game.
After all, as Fox points out near the conclusion of his piece, Peppers really wasn’t that far off his career yearly average numbers. Last year he had 46 tackles, 7.5 sacks, one interception (yes, we remember it against the Packers), two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Compare that with his yearly average over the course of his career and you will see what we’re saying: 47 tackles, 10 sacks, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
To me, that doesn’t spell someone on the downslide – it tells me he was average last year on a bad defense.
With the changes that are in store for the Packers this offseason in making improvements to said defense, I feel Peppers is moving into a very good situation – not only personally, but with the team.
Clearly, the Packers and Peppers wouldn’t have struck a deal if it wasn’t mutually beneficial to both.
The evidence won’t be available for several months, but at this point in time we’ve got to give the benefit of the doubt to Peppers and the Packers. Will it be a marriage made in Heaven? I’m not so sure about that, but it should be a relationship that should help everyone.