The Green Bay Packers are obviously expecting one heck of a return on a $30 million investment [over three years] in Julius Peppers.
There has been much speculation that Peppers could reignite in his new hybrid “elephant” role under Dom Capers; but Peppers has a trail of naysayers as well, pointing to his age (34) and his prior position (playing a 4-3 defensive end, in both Carolina and Chicago) as reasons why the Green Bay Packers may have invested too much, too soon.
With Organized Team Activities wrapped up and mandatory minicamps this week, Packers coaches have gotten a good look at Peppers under the proverbial microscope … and they are liking what they are seeing.
McCarthy and Thompson have both raved about Peppers and his continued work ethic. They praise his strength and ferocity and his ability to keep his legs under him and charge the quarterback. His new teammates are completely on the Peppers bandwagon, as well. Should these musings serve to keep the Packers fan base happy?
I think it is clear that the answer is undoubtedly, yes. Let’s be real – even if Peppers’ motor ran at half speed all season long, it is STILL an upgrade from what the Packers were doing last year on defense. Mike Daniels, Mike Neal and Nick Perry are wonderful mainstays on the defensive line – when they are healthy and in positions that give them the best chances to succeed.
Not thrown out of position or in different roles midway through a game or season because injuries have ravaged all other healthy options. Nick Perry has had injury issues since his drafting and is still suffering through injuries, even as we are starting a new 2014 season.
Daniels and Neal are exceptional players, both adapting to new positions and new roles on this defense, both taking another leap forward in 2014. With B.J. Raji moving back to NT and the holes in the defensive line being shored up by a revitalization of last year’s walking wounded, the only true gap is opposite Clay Matthews: another true pass rusher.
Matthews has been tied up in double teams for three years straight. His production is still commendable but … can you imagine what he could do if another formidable pass rusher lined up on the outside? Close your eyes and imagine Julius Peppers there. Opposite Matthews, Peppers has no reason not to thrive. This position was made for him, and he knows that his window of opportunity is closing. He is primed to make the best of it and we all have front row seats.
Under Capers, Peppers will be playing a “multiple” role. He will be moved all along the defensive line, even seeing snaps at inside linebacker and dropping back into coverage. He will be a dynamic player along the line, causing headaches for every offensive coordinator who faces him.
Peppers was one cut block away from ending the Packers season last year. No one has forgotten that. The Green Bay Packers know exactly what they are getting with Julius Peppers. And I believe they are just counting their chips until September … when it’s time to cash in.