Last week, the Green Bay Packers cut a perennial Pro-Bowl player. Sunday in Jacksonville, the way Julius Peppers played and the way he was used, made you wonder if another big-name player was about to be phased out.
When it was all said and done, Green Bay played 72 snaps of defense in the team’s 27-23 victory. Of those 72, Peppers played on 29 and in those 29 snaps, his impact was minimal.
Certainly, box scores don’t tell the entire story of the game. But, it’s no surprise to see Peppers name completely absent. Many of the 29 snaps he played, where inside in pass-rushing situations and it appears, that the long-time pro has been replaced on the depth chart by former first-round pick Nick Perry.
It will take a little more film review to see if Peppers was able to generate any pressures on the quarterback, but from watching the game, I don’t remember much of a push from him. Overall, the pass rush was decent and generated three sacks, one from Matthews, one by Perry and another by Morgan Burnett on a safety blitz.
Yet, for Peppers, there were no sacks or quarterback hits.
It’s clear that Green Bay sees Datone Jones and Peppers as their best interior rushers next to Mike Daniels and obviously, have a combination of those two inside, along with Matthews and Perry outside, seems to be the best they can do.
However, Green Bay would be foolish to force Peppers to rush from inside all season long. The man has been a terror off the edge for years and even if he has lost a step, his length, his bend and his savvy, should still make him a formidable threat off the edge.
It was just one week and one game. At this point, it seems like Green Bay is simply trying to save Peppers from work on run downs and try to keep him fresh for pass-rush situations. I see the point behind doing it, but I still believe Peppers is one of Green Bay’s best defenders and by limiting his snaps, the defense as a whole could turn out to be limited.