For 12 years, Julius Peppers has played defensive end in a 4-3 front. He’s now shifting to a 3-4 in Green Bay, prompting speculation over whether he’ll move to outside linebacker (as plenty of successful 4-3 defensive ends have done) or stay at defensive end.
Whatever he ends up playing, change seems to be coming.
“I’m going to let Coach McCarthy deal with questions about the position and the scheme. I’m not really sure. We haven’t talked in detail about what the plan is going to be for me, but I can say it’s going to be something different,” Peppers told the team’s official website on Saturday.
Officially, Peppers has been listed as a defensive end by the Packers. But that label isn’t binding. It actually could be part of an intentional misdirection, aimed at keeping teams guessing about how he’ll actually be used.
Regardless of how he’s used, Peppers says he has plenty to give.
“I have a lot left in the tank,” Peppers said. “I have a lot left to give, a lot left to offer. I want to show people I can still play the game at a high level. . . . My goal is to play football at a high level. I’m a pass rusher, so that’s going to be a big part of what I can do. Play hard and have an impact in every game.”
Peppers admits that his performance in 2013 was “not up to my personal standards.” His standard for 2014 is to pursue what has eluded him throughout his career — a Super Bowl win.
“That’s the most important thing,” Peppers said. “I haven’t won a championship. That’s where my focus is. I feel like the team is set up to make a run and I feel I can help get it there.”
The Packers have gone one and out in the playoffs for three straight seasons since winning the Super Bowl. The team’s struggles have arisen in large part from defensive lapses, especially in the postseason. The fact that a 34-year-old pass rusher whose skills seem to be declining is regarded as an upgrade shows how much help the team’s defense needs.