Julius Peppers: Picking up a player of the week point
Julius Peppers, that age-defying, pass-rushing, pass-defending patron saint of defense, was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Week today.
Given the fact that Peppers is slowly becoming more comfortable in Dom Capers’ complicated defensive system, he has also flashed signs of his old self over the past three weeks that have got to give Packers fans hope that his presence will help this much-maligned defense steadily improve as the season progresses.
With his most recent recognition by the league, Peppers is only the second player in the history of the award to earn it with three different teams (Carolina, Chicago, and Green Bay). The first player to achieve that accomplishment was Pro Football Hall-of-Famer Chris Doleman (Minnesota, Atlanta, and San Francisco).
Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Julius Peppers breaks up a pass intended for New York Jets running back Chris Johnson during the second half of the Week 2 game at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 31-24. Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports photograph
That’s pretty good company for Peppers, who has projected an “aw shucks” attitude when asked about his play the past few weeks.
Here’s what Capers had to say about Peppers this week:
“I think what you’ve seen out of Julius in almost every game, and certainly these last three games, you’ve seen him make an impact play that you can say would influence the game.”
Over the past three weeks there have been specific plays where he’s shown up to make a statement … against the New York Jets, he dropped into coverage of running back Chris Johnson and nearly picked off a pass on the sidelines that slipped through his fingertips; against Detroit, he had a sack and forced fumble of Matthew Stafford in the red zone that should have been a game-turning turnover; and last week against Minnesota, he dropped into coverage and intercepted a tipped Christian Ponder pass.
But it was what he did after he intercepted that really caught the eye of many around the league and the world – he easily outran a running back nearly half his age while taking the ball to the house for the pick-six.
The only thing he didn’t do so well on that return was the Lambeau Leap. Hopefully, he has other opportunities to try to make it to the top of the rail and sit with the fans on his next Leap attempts.
Green Bay Packers defensive end Julius Peppers. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports photograph
Needless to say, Peppers is everything as advertised since the day he was signed by Packers General Manager Ted Thompson during the free agency period last spring.
He’s given the Packers that missing piece on the defense – the player opposite Clay Matthews that has been causing confusion and chaos for opposing offenses.
That missing piece hasn’t been located over the past six years, but now that Peppers is in the mix, it has given the Packers defense a new dimension that should only continue to provide improvement for the team.
The following is the release provided by the NFL announcing Peppers as the Defensive Player of the Week:
DEFENSE: LB JULIUS PEPPERS, GREEN BAY PACKERS
- Peppers had a 49-yard interception-return touchdown, a half-sack and three tackles in the Packers’ 42-10 win over Minnesota on Thursday night.
- Peppers is the only player in NFL history with at least 100 sacks (120) and 10 interceptions (10).
- He has three career games with at least a half-sack and an interception-return touchdown, the most such games in the NFL since the sack became an official statistic in 1982.
- Peppers was part of a defensive unit that registered six sacks, two interceptions and a 45.8 opponent passer rating against the Vikings. Green Bay allowed just 299 total net yards, including 188 passing.
- In his 13th year from North Carolina, this is Peppers’ sixth career Player of the Week Award and first with the Packers. He previously won three times with Carolina and twice with Chicago. He was last honored in Week 16, 2012 with the Bears.
- Peppers and Pro Football Hall of Famer CHRIS DOLEMAN (Minnesota, Atlanta, San Francisco) are the only two to be named NFC Defensive Player of the Week with three different teams.