If Packers fans had to pick a Packers Pepper to Perform

Julius Peppers
Julius Peppers

Tyler Dunne and Justin Felder asked an interesting question on the last Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Packers podcast: If Packers fans had to choose, would they pick pass rusher Julius Peppers or trainer Pepper Burruss to have a great season in 2014?

The duo never really answered the question, so let’s answer it here. First, some context:

If Julius Peppers has a great season, it probably means he had 10-plus sacks and finally provided the Packers defense with a legitimate edge pass-rushing threat to complement, and enhance, everything Clay Matthews already does.

The Packers have tried first-round draft picks, undrafted rookie free agents, random dudes off the street and converted defensive tackles at the outside linebacker slot opposite Matthews. Nothing has worked out.

The situation was so desperate, general manager Ted Thompson took the rare step of signing Peppers, a free agent, to try and get Matthews some help.

Peppers’ snaps will probably be limited, but if he reaches double digits in sacks and forces teams to divert attention from Matthews over to him, it will provide a tremendous boost to the Packers beleaguered defense.

If Pepper Burruss has a great season, it means the Packers injury luck has finally turned around. I know one trainer isn’t responsible for the health of the team, but work with me on this one.

Since 2010, every single position group on the Packers has been hit by a major injury to an important player.

Two players — a pro-bowl safety and a running back picked in the fourth round — have suffered career-ending neck injuries. One of the best tight ends in team history likely won’t play again after a neck injury. Ditto for Johnny Jolly, one of the best comeback stories from last season.

Pepper Burruss
Pepper Burruss

Mike McCarthy says he’s had two healthy teams in his eight years in Green Bay: 2007 and 2011. In 2007, the Packers went to the NFC title game. In 2011, they went 15-1.

Whether you think McCarthy’s exaggerating or not doesn’t matter. It’s a fact that the Packers have been one of the most beat up teams in the NFL since 2010.

So let’s say Burruss comes up with a magical solution to the Packers injury woes and devises a way for the Packers to not be injury free, but at least finish in the top 5 for fewest games lost due to injury in 2014.

Would you rather have a healthy Packers team? Or a dominant Julius Peppers contributing to another Packers squad struck down by a massive amount of injuries?

The easy answer seems to be a healthy team. But keep in mind the Packers won the Super Bowl in 2010 despite injuries and have made the playoffs the last two seasons despite an injury epidemic.

Maybe crossing your fingers that Aaron Rodgers doesn’t get knocked out with another injury and choosing a productive Julius Peppers isn’t that bad of an option. A full season from Rodgers mixed in with 11 sacks from Peppers would go a long way in overcoming injuries to other areas of the team.

That said, gun to my head, I’d take a healthy team over a productive Julius Peppers. Yes, a legit complement to Matthews would be great, but the Packers can overcome a disappointing season from a player likely past his prime if the team stays in one piece.

What say you?


Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .


12 thoughts on “If Packers fans had to pick a Packers Pepper to Perform

  1. Personally I’d take a healthy team and the 34 year old version of Peppers. Even at 34, Peppers is going to be better than most of the players he’s lined up against. The Packers are a very young, talented team and have the pieces to be a effective defense. During the playoff loss to the 49ers, the Packers were forced to play Datone Jones at OLB they were so decimated by injuries. Meanwhile as I watched the playoff loss to the 49ers, I couldn’t help but notice they basically had the same players starting on offense and defense they had week one, even healthier because Crabtree was back. Just like to see the team stay in one piece for once.

    1. “Meanwhile as I watched the playoff loss to the 49ers, I couldn’t help but notice they basically had the same players starting on offense and defense they had week one, even healthier because Crabtree was back.”

      The 49’s did all they could to keep the Packers in the game with a few blunders and help from a couple of PI’s that weren’t called on our defense in the first half of the first quarter,where it could and should have been 14-0…and a whole different game ensues.

      As to which Peppers can do more for the team…Julius can,if he isn’t of the mindset to make his play a personal’look at me,I still got it’but plays to help those whose youth needs the veteran leadership to stick around.It is my opinion that Peppers getting 10 sacks isn’t the requirement being asked of him,though they’ll take it,it is to salvage players whom have failed to be ‘all they were thought to become’before casting them out to see-ya land.

  2. I agree with Nick Perry’s opinion. A healthy team will be more effective than a great season by J. Peppers.

  3. The 2010 team was unusual in that a large number of the injuries saw talented older players replaced by talented younger players who were ready to start and play at a high level (Bishop replacing Barnett, Bulaga replacing Tauscher, etc.)

    The 2014 team (like other Packers teams since 2010) for the most part has the youngsters already starting. The current 89-man roster (1 spot is currently open) has only 6 players aged 30 and older, of those only Peppers is over 31.

    So I’ll join with Nick Perry in voting for a healthy team and, say, 6-7 sacks in moderate playing time from Peppers. Let’s finally see what players like Perry, Datone Jones, Daniels, Hayward, Bulaga, Dujuan Harris, Bostick and the rookies can contribute to a team that gets a full season out of Aaron rodgers, lay Matthews and Randall Cobb.

  4. McCarthy wants our players to be “versatile”…..Lovie Smithh wants his players to be really good at one position.

    Which players will have more confusion, those with multiple keys, moves and responsibilities or those who are on automatic pilot and know their capabilities without any hesitation or wrong moves?

    Who do you think is more likely to get injured?

  5. I will take top 5 for fewest games lost to injury all day long as long as Aaron Rodgers and CMIII are not the guys racking up the games lost stat. It would be nice if the injuries that do occur in this scenario aren’t to guys playing the same position.

    I think GB has enough players ready to ascend that they can withstand a mediocre showing by Peppers if they are relatively healthy overall.

  6. Peppers was a very good addition, but a healthy Packers team is as good as any in the NFL. Packers were going to put Perry at Elephant End before they signed Peppers. Its the position he played at USC and excelled at. Also, in very limited snaps last year at ROLB, Perry had all 4 of his regular season sacks and another sack vs SF in the playoffs. Just getting Perry on the Right side improves the pass rush dramatically. Perry is a one sided pass rusher. Matthews on the other hand, had his best sack season in ’10 w/ 13.5 and has shown he can rush on either side. Simple logic to make the switch of Perry and Matthews. Hopefully, they find alot of ways to get Peppers, Matthews rushing and still are able to get Perry rushing from EE/ROLB. That would make the pass rush very formidable.

  7. … I always thought Pepper Burruss was more of an equipment guy who also moonlights as a hot towel jockey more so than an integral part of the training staff that has much impact on player health.

    Learn something new every day!

  8. We don’t need to debate this topic because Peppers is going to have a great year and the team will only have minor injuries in 2014.. A little bump here and brush there, but nothing significant.

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