When the Green Bay Packers signed Julius Peppers as a free agent two seasons ago, no one really knew what to expect. So far, all the Packers have gotten two great seasons from the future Hall-of-Fame player, but to get back to the Super Bowl in 2016, Green Bay will need one more.
In his first two seasons with the green and gold, Peppers has been spectacular. He has 18 sacks, 11 passes defensed, six tackles for loss, two interceptions, six forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and two defensive touchdowns. That doesn’t include the countless hurries and pressures he has racked up too.
The bottom line is since he’s been in Green Bay, Peppers has been an elite edge defender in the front seven for the Packers. He’s been outstanding as a pass rusher and just as good against the run.
Peppers is truly one of those rare players, a lot like Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson, in that he simply has a knack for finding the ball and making big plays.
Whether it be a sack, a hurry, a forced fumble, a tipped ball, a tackle for loss, whatever, Peppers always makes at least one or two meaningful players per game on defense. And in the world where impact plays define your defense, that skill set is invaluable.
However, at 36 years old, Peppers isn’t getting any younger. So can the Packers expect the same output from him in 2016?
Head coach Mike McCarthy certainly does, calling him “ageless” in an interview a couple months back. For his part, Peppers is working to stay in shape, who said at times he will even run with the defensive backs, just to see if he can keep up.
“I’ve been doing that since college,” Peppers said to NFL.com. “I like to run. That’s my thing. I like to run in the offseason. So I have a chance to get with those little guys and try to push myself and use one of those guys as a rabbit. I try to jump in there with them and see if I can keep up.”
Here’s a look at some of the things Peppers has done the last couple of seasons:
There is no question the Packers will need Peppers to be on that level again in 2016. Green Bay ranked in the top 10 in a number of key categories last season including sacks, turnovers and least amount of big plays. So the Packers defense is on the cusp of being great.
With Matthews, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Sam Shields, Mike Daniels and Peppers, Green Bay has a stellar core of Pro-Bowl caliber players, particularly is Peppers can continue his ageless ways.
Difference makers win championships and Peppers is clearly one of those. At least he has been. Hopefully for the Packers and their 2016 Super Bowl hopes, he will continue to be for at least one more season.