If we compare Peppers’ time in Carolina from his time in Chicago, here’s what we find.
Julius started off his career with a bang in 2002 when he logged 12 sacks after playing only 12 games. His overall sack average from that year until he left in 2010 was 10.13 sacks per season.
That’s an outstanding number and it placed Julius in an elite group of sack specialists in the league.
So, did Peppers experience a drop off when he arrived in Suckville in 2010?
Yes and no.
It’s true that during his four seasons with the Bears Julius only averaged 9.38 sacks a season. From a raw statistics perspective his numbers did drop. However, let’s look closer at his time in Chicago.
I would argue that the only year Bears fans could really convince me that Peppers lacked productivity is his final season with them. His first year with the Bears, Julius logged eight sacks as he got accustomed to a new team. In 2011 and 2012 he registered 11.0 and 11.5 sacks respectively. It was really only 2013, when he posted just seven sacks that he showed an signs of “dropping off.”
So, what happened in 2012? Has Julius just lost his edge?
Here’s what I think happened. I think Julius watched the Bears slog through an NFC North season in which the Packers lost Aaron Rodgers and the Lions kept shooting themselves in the foot and realized, “This team is never going to get to the Super Bowl.” Despite all the stars aligning for the Bears, Aaron returned back on the scene and the Bears hadn’t pulled away in the North to the point where the Packers had no chance to catch them.
It must be heart breaking to pour four years of your life into a team only to realize they don’t have the potential to get you back to the big game and finally get you that ring you’ve been longing for.
The reality of the numbers is that if Julius had recorded 10 sacks last season instead of seven he would have averaged 10.13 sacks per season with the Bears as well. Peppers has not lost a step. He just lost faith in an organization.