- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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There is one Chicago Bear that Jets head coach Rex Ryan just can’t stop raving about.
His name? Julius Peppers.
As if Peppers really needs any introduction.
The ninth-year pro, a five-time pro bowler, is currently in the running to capture his first Defensive Player of the Year Award.
“He’s a guy that causes production,” Ryan said Friday. “He’s obviously a really productive player. But not only that, he also causes it for others because he forces it really well. He’s really that kind of player.”
Playing alongside Peppers on the Bears’ defensive line has certainly allowed Israel Idonije to make plays. The seventh-year defensive tackle has emerged seemingly out of nowhere and is currently tied with Peppers for the team-lead with eight sacks.
“I’m not familiar with him,” said Jets’ left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, who will already have his hands full trying to block Peppers. “But I know that defense is something special [the Bears are currently third in the league in points against (17.3 per game)]. They’re doing great things, and as an offensive unit I’m sure that we’ll figure out what we need to do to win.”
As obvious as it seems, the Jets are going to have to protect quarterback Mark Sanchez and his sore shoulder from feeling the wrath of Peppers. New York’s offensive line allowed its second-year signal caller to be sacked just once against the Pittsburgh Steelers’ vaunted defense last week.
“I played against him last year,” Ferguson said. “He’s a great player and I’m sure it will be a great battle. He’s a very talented athlete. He can do things that can cause tackles a lot of trouble in this league. It should be a great game."
“I just need to execute and pay attention to the little details and have fun out there.”
Ryan realizes that the Bears can and probably will move Peppers all over their 4-3 defensive alignment as Chicago looks to exploit weaknesses in the Jets’ offensive line. But the onus to stop him isn’t going to fall squarely on the shoulders of Ferguson or right tackle Wayne Hunter, filling in for the injured Damien Woody. It’s going to have to be a team effort.
“Well, it’s not just Wayne matched up on him or D’Brick,” Ryan said. “It’s gonna be a lot of people. But I’m confident. Of course, I also realize that this guy is the best there is. Hopefully we can do a good job on minimizing him.”
Ryan also pointed out the impact Peppers makes against the pass with two interceptions and nine passes defended.
“He’s another guy, you can’t throw over him,” Ryan said. “That’s what’s so underrated about him. You can try to throw intermediate passes over him ... Well, maybe you can or maybe you can’t. The guy’s wingspan is incredible. His height, wingspan. It’s just incredible how many plays he makes. He’ll bat it down and then he’ll catch it. There’s very few Julius Peppers’ walking the face of this earth.”
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