1) Introduction: After 8 years with the Carolina Panthers, superstar defensive end Julius Peppers made Packers fans nervous when he signed with the Chicago Bears. Now, four years later, Peppers is playing his twilight years in the green and gold, hoping to claim the championship title he never could in his first 12 years.
2) Profile: Julius Peppers
- Age: 35
- Born: January 18, 1980 in Wilson, NC
- Height: 6’ 7”
- Weight: 287
- College: North Carolina
- Rookie Year: 2002
- NFL Experience: 13 years
3) Expectations coming into the season: When Ted Thompson signed Peppers in the offseason, it came with widely mixed reviews. Some felt that he was over the hill and had left his best days far behind. Others felt like he still had a lot of good game left in him and could be a key contributor in 2014. Either way, he was expected to be a difference-maker on this defense, especially being bookended as a pass rusher with Clay Matthews.
4) Player’s highlights/low-lights: There were games where Julius Peppers seemed to be all but invisible, and yet, he always seemed to be making big plays here and there throughout the season. For a guy playing 3-4 OLB after being a long-term DE, he did exceptionally well. Not only did notch 11 more sacks in his belt, but he also added 2 interceptions, both for touchdowns. Peppers’ big weakness, though, was obviously in the run game.
5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: A lot of people have to admit that Julius Peppers added more to this team than they thought he would. Even as an aging veteran in his 13th year, Peppers was an impact player. Not every snap was a great one, but he sure made some of them count in big ways.
6) Player’s contributions in the playoffs: Were it not for Julius Peppers, the Packers might have never reached Seattle for the NFC Championship Game. His forced fumble of DeMarco Murray was a game-changer. He also added two sacks against Russell Wilson in the postseason. On the flip side, one has to wonder whether he’s kicking himself for telling Morgan Burnett to take a knee on his interception return.
7) Intangibles: Peppers is a savvy player who uses his athleticism and reach in smart ways. Whether it’s batting down passes, forcing fumbles, catching interceptions, or just causing havoc on the line, he’s got a knack for making plays.
Season Report Card (Player Grades):
(B+) Level of expectations met during the season
(A-) Contributions to team’s overall success.
(B+) Contributions to team during the playoffs
Overall Grade: B+——————Follow @ChadToporski