Based on some early words out of Green Bay, the Packers are planning something that perhaps the NFL Competition Committee should take under advisement, because it may not be entirely fair.
The Packers are planning to use newly acquired Julius Peppers as more than a defensive lineman, which would have been bad enough by itself. Rob Demovsky with ESPN out of Green Bay lays out information that Peppers may be as much or more linebacker as lineman, to the point of spending more time in linebacker meetings than ones for the linemen.
A starting point in all of this is to grasp that Peppers in a “down” year still pegged 7.5 sacks. He may not have been worth $14 million base salary, but don’t confuse that with not being every bit the equal or better of 80 percent of the defensive ends currently operating on Sundays.
But here’s the ominous part: Rod Marinelli when he was Bears D-coordinator and line coach basically gave Peppers the freedom to “call” alignments, to move himself to a spot he thought created a positive situation for himself and the rest of the line. Ex-Bear Henry Melton once laughed and said of Peppers’ “coaching:” “If Pep said, ‘take my edge, I’ll take the guard,’ you just said, ‘Yessir, Mr. Peppers.”
So now in a 3-4 scheme that has kept B.J. Raji and already had Clay Matthews in place, or in whatever place was deemed best for him, you introduce a 285-pound hybrid who knows the league – has forgotten more about defensive end and pass rushing than most players hope they ever know – and you let him stand up right in the line of sight of Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford and any other quarterback who doesn’t happen to be 6-foot-7 (which is pretty much all of them).
The Packers are loosely talking about Peppers’ position as “elephant.” The Romans, Cathaginians and others once used the elephant in a form of execution. It now sounds, in a scaled-back version, like the Packers have something like that in mind, too.