In March, 2010 that year’s most coveted free agent became a Chicago Bear. l remember how excited I was at the acquisition – both in that the McCaskey Family had spent some real money, and also the thought of having another marquee player on an already potent defense. The following Christmas, my then-boyfriend (now husband) bought me a Julius Peppers jersey of my very own. He also surprised me with one for the fur-child, my pug Spike. He rocks the Peppers jersey with great pride, especially since he has quite the strut under normal circumstances.
I like to bust out the “double Peppers representation” for especially big games, or really just when the mood strikes. Last Thursday seemed like the right moment, a celebration that I was going to be able to see a full Bears game, rather than just the highlights. Since my misguided Colts/Broncos loving husband only bought me the jersey because he lost a bet I am convinced the jersey has good “ju-ju.” Right about now it feels as though Peppers can use all the help he can get with a mere eight tackles (five solo), one sack, and one forced fumble thus far in the 2013 season.
This has many people wondering if at 33 years old, is Julius Peppers slowing down? According to this Sunday’s opponent, Trent Williams of the Washington Redskins, absolutely not!
“I don’t see a difference,” Williams said. “He’s still a disruption in the backfield. Maybe production goes down but that’s because everyone keys on him. And the [Bears'] line is banged up so it allows you to send extra guys to his side.”
Williams has already seen his fair-share of difficult matchups this season with the Cowboys, DeMarcus Ware and Green Bay’s Clay Matthews. Still, Peppers is the kind of player that will also keep guys up at night.
“It’s Julius Peppers, man,” Williams said. “It doesn’t get too much harder than that. He’s definitely one of those guys that stays on your mind until after the game.”
Peppers will always have a strong foundation to elicit this type of fear with over 110 career sacks and more than 35 forced fumbles. Still, the Julius who has been playing in the games of late has been quiet, way too quiet. Lately it feels as though when an announcer calls out Julius Peppers, it is to make a comment about how he has not done much this quarter, half, or even game.
Do I think Peppers should be benched? NO! Should his playing time be reduced? Perhaps. Still, as Williams identified, the Bears’ line is hurting, so who is going to step in to play defensive end if Julius is relegated to the sideline. The injuries at the tackle position are not doing Peppers any favors, but perhaps at the ripe age of 33 (sadly, not much older than me), it may be time to admit that he could be on the what should be a slow end to an illustrious career.
The overarching concern, however, is the big plays that have been given up on the defensive side of the ball. This all starts with giving a quarterback way too much time to find someone open, or allowing a receiver to get that far down field. Even if RGIII is not 100% he is not a quarterback to be given time to figure things out.
BEAR DOWN Bears defensive, especially you, Julius Peppers! I will be wearing your jersey with pride on Sunday, and I will do my very best to get Spike in his too.