Thursday, October 14, 2010
Peppers' value? Ask Bears' opponents
By Michael C. Wright
Julius Peppers doesn't have gaudy sack numbers, but his production is forcing opopnents to strategize to stop him.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears constantly rave about the contributions Julius Peppers makes that don't show up on the stat sheet.
But believe it or not, there's tangible evidence to justify the Bears signing Peppers to a six-year, $91 million contract.
"This week, going up against Julius Peppers -- it's very similar to what we had to deal with in the preseason going up against Jared Allen -- one of those things that can disrupt your whole game plans," said Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. "You have to slide your line away from [him], put all the backs and tight ends on [him], just one of those things you have to do when you play against a very special player."
Although he's registered just two sacks on the season, Peppers is the only player in the league with two sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception. It goes deeper, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
Peppers leads the league in pass breakups among defensive linemen (4), and his four pass defenses match Chicago's entire total on the defensive front from 2009, when Anthony Adams, Gaines Adams, Alex Brown and Tommie Harris contributed one apiece.
"He's a great athlete," linebacker Brian Urlacher said. "We've all seen what he can do. He keeps doing it every Sunday, and every day in practice, too."
So Peppers deserves plenty of credit for the club's defensive improvement thus far, as does Urlacher, who missed pretty much all of last season, yet now ranks second on the team with 44 tackles.
The Bears gave up 23.4 points per game last year, and are allowing just 14.8 so far this season, which ranks as fifth-best in the league. The Chiefs are the only team experiencing a larger decrease in points per game from 2009 to 2010, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
"They're good as always. When you talk about the great defenses in the NFL, you always talk about the Tampa style defenses, which ironically mean Chicago these days," Hasselbeck said. "They're tough to run against. They're tough to throw against. It's a traditional Chicago defense; very, very good."