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Julius Peppers: The Elephant in the Room

After four years as a Chicago Bear chasing down rival quarterback Aaron Rodgers, defensive end Julius Peppers will get a fresh opportunity in Green Bay to get is aging career back on track after a lackluster 2013 season.

After four years as a Chicago Bear chasing down rival quarterback Aaron Rodgers, defensive end Julius Peppers will get a fresh opportunity in Green Bay to get his aging career back on track after a lackluster 2013 season.

Since bursting onto the scene as the Number 2 overall selection in the 2002 NFL Draft, Julius Peppers has been a dominant defensive end, wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks. The future Hall of Famer has racked up 118.5 sacks in his career, finishing with fewer than 7 sacks only once. He’s been the model of consistency as a 4-3 defensive end during his 12-year career with the Carolina Panthers and Chicago Bears.

The Green Bay Packers, meanwhile, have been spent the past several years searching for a pass rusher to complement All-Pro linebacker Clay Matthews III. The results have been largely underwhelming. Mike Neal and Mike Daniels look to have turned a corner, but he needs to show he can consistently stay healthy and productive. Nick Perry can’t seem to stay on the field, and he’s been ineffective when he is on the field, tallying only 6 sacks in 17 games spanning two seasons. Ditto for Jerel Worthy.

Enter Julius Peppers. Ted Thompson shocked the world when he finally spent the cheddar (Get it? Cheddar?) to bring in a big-name free agent with the pedigree and stats to back it up. Plug and play at defensive end, right?

Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. The Packers run a 3-4 base defense. At first blush, it seems Peppers doesn’t fit the scheme. Which begs the question: what does Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers have up his much-maligned sleeve?

The Packers are expected to run a hybrid scheme this year, consisting of multiple fronts and personnel groups, and Peppers is expected to be a “multiple-position player.” Peppers will be the elephant.

Defensive end Julius Peppers takes in the mystique of Lambeau Field shortly after signing with the Green Bay Packers.

Defensive end Julius Peppers takes in the mystique of Lambeau Field shortly after signing with the Green Bay Packers.

The elephant position, made famous by Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks, consists of personnel tweaks to Monte Kiffin’s 4-3 Under defense. The idea is to create mismatches by allowing the weakside defensive end to roam around the line of scrimmage and rush the quarterback from a two-point stance.

The benefit of the elephant position is that it allows the weak side defensive end to collapse the pocket on passing downs. Although the elephant isn’t asked to anchor against the run, the player must nonetheless be athletic enough to control his gap and not get run over.

Is the 34-year-old Peppers up to the task? Time will tell. Green Bay took a calculated risk by signing him, hoping to squeeze every last bit of Peppers’ athleticism and pass rush ability out of him. Early reports indicate Peppers has been working with the linebackers thus far, likely in an attempt to get him comfortable roving and rushing standing up. If he can be good enough to keep teams from focusing all of their attention on Matthews, Green Bay will be in the thick of the things come playoff time.

1028 comments
Big Deal
Big Deal

I bet Lebenon is going to drink no water all day and then go off to hate on the haters.

And he'll pretend to start eating a banana, then toss it over his shoulder.

sgunderson17
sgunderson17

Lebron is going to go off in the next game. He's probably really pissed about all the criticism. 

AndrewLeT
AndrewLeT

anyone here have publishing rights.  need a new article.  

Big Deal
Big Deal

And Tim Duncan will slip on the peel and stub his knee ... and sit out the week.

AndrewLeT
AndrewLeT

@Preparation_A do the part 2 one and then we'll post LKP's monday since part one of the wrs came out yesterday.  

Big Deal
Big Deal

He's putting on some Beats and listening to "I'm the Man."

Reggie/Agnew 2016
Reggie/Agnew 2016 moderator

Can't be better than me. I do nothing. That's the best a mod can do.

Linsley Lohan
Linsley Lohan

Can't just pull an article out of thin nowhere

Big Deal
Big Deal

OOOOOOOOHHHHHHH!

That wasn't very nice.

Big Deal
Big Deal

At least I assumed half his work was good.