Cory’s Corner: Julius Peppers is No. 56…remain excited All Green Bay Packers All the Time

I’ve never seen a number unveiling get this much excitement.

And for those of you that may not know, Julius Peppers will be wearing No. 56 next season for the Packers.

Julius Peppers will be wearing No. 56 next fall as he will play a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker position called the elephant.
Julius Peppers will be wearing No. 56 next fall as he will play a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker position called the elephant.

That’s quite a change for someone that was consistently coming off the edge as a defensive end in a three-point stance wearing No. 90.

But Peppers isn’t just an end. Thanks to Dom Capers and his crazy names, which have brought us the ‘Psycho’ defensive package, Peppers will be playing a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker called an elephant.

Personally, I don’t care if you call it strawberry shortcake because the name of Peppers’ position is meaningless. His stats and his motor speak for themselves. He’s been under double-digit sacks in a season just four times in his 12-year career.

The thing I like about Peppers most is his drive. I realize that he’s 34 and might be reaching the final leg of a strong NFL career. But the last time he didn’t play a full 16-game season was in 2007. That really says a lot to me. Especially for a guy that has played through a sprained MCL in his left knee, a broken right hand and a right knee sprain among other things. And the season that he suffered his right knee sprain was in 2007, a season in which he tallied his lowest sack output of his career with 2½. Yet he still managed to lead the Panthers in quarterback hurries.

Peppers is a guy that the Packers desperately needed. He’s a guy that will come in and not only contribute with a pass rush that has been forgotten, but he’s a vocal veteran that wants to win.

That’s a great combination for a team that has youngsters like Nick Perry and Datone Jones, who the Packers are counting on to break out and flourish.

Is it fair to compare Peppers to the 31-year-old Reggie White when he signed with Green Bay? No way. And I’m surprised I’ve seen people even make that comparison because it’s not not even close. White was a once-in-a-lifetime pass rusher who may never be copied again.

But that doesn’t mean Peppers doesn’t have plenty to play for.

In Peppers’ 12-year career he’s been in the playoffs four times. He lost in the Super Bowl to the Patriots, lost a couple of conference championship games — one to the Packers — and also lost in the divisional round. If anybody is hungry to win and win now it’s this guy.

The biggest reason Green Bay should be excited is because it will free up Clay Matthews. Usually stuck behind a wall of double teams, Matthews has had to scratch and claw just to see daylight. But now, teams will be faced with a decision. However, even that decision won’t matter much because whoever isn’t double-teamed will win his one-on-one battle the majority of the time.

Peppers is a game changer. He’s a dynamic athlete that has the speed to bottle up the edge that is so vital when taking on guys like Cam Newton, Colin Kaepernick, Russell Wilson and Robert Griffin III. And by causing more problems near the line of scrimmage, you put less pressure on a secondary that has been more famine than feast.

So, the number assignment may seem like trivial news to most. And usually a number assignment is trivial. (I mean, I don’t remember hearing about the number of former Packers punter Paul McJulien was going to wear before the season, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen). But it’s OK to get excited about this one.



Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn


49 thoughts on “Cory’s Corner: Julius Peppers is No. 56…remain excited

  1. Peppers will be the solid end we thought we drafted last year,and Jones will be a plus if he improves.He will not only give us more sacks but also hurries,which we desperately need.

  2. Now we need someone who can bring consistent pressure up the middle. Maybe the combination of Daniels, Boyd and Raji, if he shows up this year. Thanks, Since ’61

    1. Peppers could and should line up inside as much or more than at Elephant. Don’t take my word for it…

      “Peppers lines up next to Daniels as an interior rusher. That’s where tackle David Bakhtiari said Peppers could wreak havoc.”

      “It’s goint to be very, very tough for those inside players to guard this guy” Bahktiari said. “he can definitely disrupt inside.”

      “In that confined space, he’s still strong as hell, strong as an ox. Usually guys on the inside are a little slower. He already has that strength. But he’s also really quick and that’s what can mess w/ a OG.”

      Been saying it since the signing… Best place to use Peppers on passing downs is at DT, w/ Perry, Neal, Matthews rushing outside. He’ll get snaps at Elephant too, but more should be at DT IMO.

  3. It’s hard for me to get excited about a guy that dry humped the turf last year. And you can say that he was playing with a poor Bears D-line. Is the Packers D-line that much better. You can say what about Matthews, remember you only get 6-10 games out of Matthews.(injuries) Peppers does not command double teams any more. Any average O-lineman can handle him one on one. Peppers is not the second coming of Reggie White, he is on the downward spiral of his career. He is here to ride the shirt tail of Matthews and hope for the best. He is a feel good acquisition through the novice eyes. The more seasoned eyes can see what he really is. I am not taking anything away from Peppers, he is a stand up guy, however, physically he is past his prime. I have been wrong one other time in my life, maybe he will be the elephant that you speak of and play as big as his ears.

  4. I suspect he will make a few good plays and some bad plays. I have a problem with his age and his speed. I know that as you age those bumps and bruises tend to linger. He must be better than what they had but I don’t think he is going to be a superstar. His time has come and gone.

  5. When did Carolina lose a conference championship to the Packers during Peppers’ career there? He was drafted in 2002, not 1996.

  6. What concerns me most with Peppers is not his number, but his plantar fascitis. That, combined with his hot/cold motor could mean a very inconsistent player near the end of his career.

    But Peppers signing means we don’t have depend entirely on the (long expected) ascendance of Perry and Neal. Plus the contract numbers are very Packer friendly, so it should still be worth it.

    1. I see Peppers as a bridge player. Someone who can hopefully get a meaningful number of impactful snaps while the Packers either develop or find that next player to take his place on the DL. He’s not going to play 80-90% of the defensive snaps…and he shouldn’t at this stage of his career. My hope is that they don’t burn him out in situational play where they could rotate him out, and that he plays with a little more abandon when he’s better rested.

      1. Definitely agree… Peppers brings it for a year or 2 while the young guys develop, w/ some help from Peppers as a mentor of sorts. Keep his snap count at 65-70% so he stays fresh and saves his legs. Peppers may not play elite every game anymore, but in big games and against teams he’s motivated he’s still dominant. Don’t waste him on run downs or taking on double teams/2 gaps. Save him for pass downs!

  7. Whoa… some people (the writer of this article, in particular) are in for a rude awakening.

    Put it this way – everyone knows how I feel about Perry, D. Jones, and Neal (not a fan)… every one of them are better than this version of Peppers.

    1. I disagree in the sense that I see a lot of Jason Taylor (how he played well toward the end of his career) in this kind of acquisition. Used wisely, Peppers could play at a high level for a few more years.

  8. Anyone think that Allen might have been a better pick than Peppers? Younger faster motor?

  9. Have to admit, a Lions devotee (I appreciate the sympathy) and stumbled across this site. As an avid NFC North follower, I am very encouraged by the lack of activity you guys have demonstrated this off season. The Julius Pepper’s signing’s been beaten to death because, quite frankly, there was absolutely nothing newsworthy since the Shields signing you way overpaid for. Say what you want, but we’ve improved as have the other two. Golden’s going to give you guys fits over the middle. Was praying you wouldnt sign a safety and/or OLB and u didn’t. I’ll go back to my den, but just thought I’d throw that in. Sorry if I offended anyone, just a plain old old fan is all.

    1. Wow. A Lions Troll. Who knew those actually existed!

      Well Mr. Loins Troll: I’ll take our chances in the division this year – especially considering the recent SB Championship, 3 straight NFCN Titles and the best QB in football…

      Go away until you actually have something to brag about.

      1. Here’s a question for you Mr. Kool Aid…..if Stafford and Rodgers went down for the season game 1, who do u think would win more games? Do some research, say going back to weeks 7-15 of last year and see what u come up with.

        1. A more apt comparison: How would the Lions do without Megatron and Stafford. Now compare that to GB without Rodgers. You have three great players on your team and none of them are your QB. But you pay him like it.

          Advantage: GB.

          1. Y’know what’s REALLY funny about this? He says, “Do some research, say going back to weeks 7-15 of last year and see what u come up with.” I wonder if he realizes that the Packers were 2-5-1 WITHOUT Rodgers, and during the same stretch the Lions were 3-5 WITH stafford.

            Yeah, that stafford… he’s a powerhouse.

        2. So let me paraphrase… if the Packers lose the best player in football and the lions lose a massively overrated pedestrian whose name exists in conscious memory only because he’s throwing to Calvin Johnson, who would win more games?

          Oooo, that’s rich…

          And while we’re at it, what kind of loser organization boasts, “Hey, the bottom half of our roster is better than the bottom half of your roster?”

          I guess when you’re a lions fan you’ve gotta cling to something…

      2. Bearmeat – maybe Barry S is talking about the Nittany Lions. The Detroit Lions left the NFL in 1959 or maybe 1960. There has been a Lions team masquerading as an NFL team that scrimmages with the Packers twice a year. It’s been great practice for us and we should thank them. Only last Turkey Day they didn’t follow the rules against our mostly 2nd string team. Who knows maybe the real Lions will return someday and the city of Detroit will get out of bankruptcy. Until then, let’s hope that they split their games against the Bears and Vikings when they meet. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ’61

    2. As a Packer fan living in lower MI, I’ll say this much: the Lions best acquisition is on the sidelines. Jim Schwartz was self-defeating. Any coach that can get the Lions to play sound, disciplined football will be successful there–at least in the short term–because they have playmakers.

      Adding guys like Ihidegbo and Tate doesn’t change things dramatically if the team continues to play the same undisciplined, erratic football.

    3. Welcome, BarryS, always happy to have polite fans of other teams weigh in respectfully. It’s great to have someone to stir the pot.

      I don’t disagree that the Motor City Kitties may be improved next season. But I think you’re wrong about Golden Tate being the main factor — it’s really about the addition by subtraction of Jim Schwartz. That guy was a terrible coach whose teams perpetually far under-achieved their potential. The Lions should have won the division last year, but couldn’t pull it out. And that was a pattern through his whole time there. You’ve got the talent, but couldn’t put it all together. The addition of Jim Caldwell scares me way more than Golden Tate.

      The one big positive for the rest if the division and the league as a whole is that hopefully Caldwell actually lays down the law on some of your (I’ll be polite) undisciplined players so we don’t see any more stompings on the field!

    4. The Packers overpaid for Shields (true), but the Loins didn’t overpay for Tate (furthest thing from the truth)?

  10. ProFootballSpot asked some questions..the Biggest Addition for the Packers and why?
    Here’s what I thought..easier to copy/paste.

    Biggest Addition-Since Peppers was the only high end guy signed,how can he not be?The importance of this move and the resounding effects it could have for the defense is even bigger….Peppers will give a very clear picture of the future for a couple of players that need to have huge step ups this season…not to mention the defensive scheme and coordinator as both could change if results,regardless of injury to any of the players,falls short of expectations.

    I’ll add this…

    Peppers will get his plays and the oohs and aahs that come with some of them,but don’t let the new number on the jersey add extra fervor to your Sundays for him but,look and hope that,he can erase the angst many fans and coaches have been dealing with of others.

    It won’t be what Peppers gives us on the field,it’s what he can get the others to give on the field and that will decide how much closer the Super Bowl is for the Packers this season and how open Rodgers window is from a defensive view.

  11. Hmmm. This may be the first article I’ve ever read that praised Peppers for his “motor.” The one thing that evaluators seem to agree on is that Peppers takes his share of plays off. That’s been the knock on him since college.

    I’m not criticizing the signing – I’m actually a bit excited about it if he’s used well – but Pepper’s “motor” leaves something to be desired, I think.

  12. Peppers played In 82% of the Bears snaps in 2013 as the only defensive lineman that needed to be accounted for.
    Here in GB he won’t come near those numbers. In Base 3-4 I don’t think of him as coming from the OLB spot because of the front. Generally 4 players rush. The 3 defensive linemen will and either Peppers or Matthews unless they’re blitzing. We can assume Clay is better in space than Peppers so this front suggests our best pass rusher wouldn’t come in to attack the quarterback unless we blitz and rush 5. This look with Peppers essentially turns in into a 4-3 with him at end or a 5-2 with Hawk and Jones having enormous coverage responsibilities. His poor job against the run last year means I don’t want him in there on obvious run downs.
    For my eyes, Peppers will be a DT in nickel or an OLB in the psycho looks (Daniels, Peppers Perry Neal Matthews Hawk gives us a great pass rush group.)
    Feel free to criticize or suggest otherwise, I just can’t see us rushing 5 or dropping Clay into coverage just to get Peppers on the field.

    1. No reason you can’t have Matthews and Peppers coming from opposite sides. Or line Peppers up at DT and Matthews next to him. Matthews pass rushing opportunities might go down, but only slightly.

      How about a front that has.

      Peppers elephant, Daniels DT, Jones DT/DE, Matthew LOLB.

      Or Perry Elephant, Peppers DT, Daniel/Neal DT/DE and Matthews LOLB.

      Matthews best sack season was ’10 when he played LOLB, instead of on the right side.

      1. I love the thought of Peppers lining up at DT alongside Daniels/Jones/Neal w/ Perry at Elephant/ROLB and Matthews LOLB.

        Best use of all the talents of our best pass rushers IMO.

  13. Over/under on Peppers’ sacks: 5

    If he gets lots of hurries, he will have been worth it but I think he’ll be one and done.

  14. Someone is going to have to teach me how to reply to a response. But Stroh, those are out of a 2 DT set or the Nickel, I thought the elephant was from the 3-4 base. In base D, I cannot see Peppers being an OLB that everyone else here seems so high on.

    1. There is a “Reply” button, but it only shows in the desktop/tablet version of the site. In the mobile version, you unfortunately can’t reply to others’ posts.

  15. Why does Ted Thompson believe the path to success is settling for scraps? In free agency he likes to let the dust settle and buy the leftovers that nobody else wants. Same in the draft. He loves to trade from early to middle and especially from middle to late. I think he has a psychological complex where he doesn’t feel worthy to get a cut of filet mignon, preferring instead, the grisly, grainy cut, loaded with connective tissue. He starts with the same budget as everyone else and like everyone else he spends his full budget yet he is always in the mode of somebody shopping for bargain basement deals. I really don’t get it. Seems unnecessary and counterproductive. Is this just his personal style and he applies it to his professional life because he knows no other way to act?

    1. I agree Archie… I believe it is definately just his personal style. He will never let anyone bruise his ego. Even if the decision will hurt the team, if TT’s ego is involved, so be it. I am more amazed at the TT minions out there that agree with everything he does regardless of how assanine it may be. Some people just can’t think outside the box, so they just continue to drink the TT malt liquor…

      1. People who think so little of the opinions of others shouldn’t visit blogs, they should write their own.

  16. “Peppers will be playing a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker called an elephan”

    Not afraid to say I told you so guys!

  17. I like this Pants, it’s little loose and comfy. These are more fitted with my high sole shoes than I like. Definitely cute and well made, but the sizing seems off.

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