I decided to do a countdown to the Chicago Bears season opener on September 8th versus the Cincinnati Bengals. Thanks to one of my followers on Twitter @Beneiserle, I decided to combine the countdown with a roster preview of sorts.
We’re Julius Peppers days away from kickoff. #90 remains a key cog of the Bears defense, another of the aging veterans that will anchor the Bears defense. Peppers is entering his fourth season with the Bears, coming off his best statistical year while tallying 11.5 sacks and 32 tackles.
While Peppers has averaged 10 sacks per season, his numbers haven’t been eye-popping compared to other defensive ends around the league. I’m convinced that Peppers is held every single play and his impact goes well beyond the stats sheet.
What’s interesting about the 32-year old defensive end is more what’s on the horizon. Peppers still has three years left on his deal and is owed a TON of money. A lot of the offseason discussion around Pep was what to do with his contract. A lot of fans suggested restructuring his deal, but Phil Emery and the Bears managed to make some moves around the cap without kicking the rock down the road.
You have to wonder what happens to Peppers down the road. Here’s one idea that I think would make some sense for the Bears – move Peppers inside full time. I don’t know if it’s going to happen this season, but in some packages, the Bears move Peppers to the 3-technique to get more pass rushers on the field. Moving him inside next season could help create mismatches and solve the Bears depth problem at DT.
Other notable 90′s for the Bears include Jarron Gilbert, Joey LaRoque, Antonio Garay, Alonzo Spellman and Al Harris.
We’re 90 days from kickoff. Are you ready???