A few weeks back after the Falcons game I summarized in detail on Panthers DE Julius Peppers play-by-play performance to quantify his impact. Given Peppers started the season slowly the timing of the report could be considered slanted to make Peppers look bad. I think it's only fair to issue a similar report after game 7, one of Peppers better games in several seasons.
Peppers had two highlight film plays in last Sunday's victory over the Cardinals. He intercepted a pass and returned it for a TD and he sacked the QB and caused a fumble that was recovered by the Panthers. But beyond the two big plays what was his impact throughout the first half when the Panthers built a 28-7 lead?
The following are play-by-play details of the Panthers 1st half defensive plays looking at Peppers and his impact. I'm using three categories of evaluation (I'm keeping this simple) ‘Impact' means he had opportunity and seized it; ‘Missed impact' obviously means he should have made an impact but didn't; ‘No Factor' means that based on the play run Peppers would not have responsibility for making an impact.
1st Defensive series - 1st play; Peppers lines up on the right side this entire series; rushes a passing Warner and gets a hit on him just after he throws the ball on a dump off. Might that hit have had a psychological impact on Warner? (Positive Impact)
1-2; Warner quick pass to the other side (No factor)
1-3 Direct run at Pep, he holds his ground, assists on a 1 yd gain (Pos Impact)
1-4 Run left at Pep, he goes inside as the RB gets the edge for a 1st down (Missed Impact)
1-5 RB goes right away from Pep (No factor)
1-6 Quick pass to other side (No factor)
1-7 3rd down rushes QB and forces QB to step up, Pep gets a hand on him, pass completed for 2 yds (Pos Impact)
1-8 on 4th down RB pitch to Peps' side but he doesn't attempt to cover the edge, 1st down (Missed impact)
The next two plays Pep is on the sideline as Brayton and Johnson are the DE's
1-11 Pep back in, throw to other side TD (No factor)
2nd Defensive Series
2-1 Quick pass over the middle (No factor)
2-2 Pep rushes QB gets hands on Warner just after pass, incomplete (Pos Impact)
2-3 3rd down, Pep rushes and is doubled by Hightower who looks like he trips Pep before going into the flat and catching the pass (No factor)
3rd Defensive Series
Pep is on the sideline the first two plays, the first is replayed due to a penalty
Pep in on 3rd down from the rt side rushes the QB but gets doubled by G & T; Pass to RB dump off over Pep; Pep actually catches up, assists on the tackle and contributes to 4th down; Pep gets the wind knocked out of him on the tackle and takes a few minutes to get off the field (Pos Impact)
4th D - From the right side, Pep intercepts the dump off pass and returns is for a TD (Pos Impact)
5-1 RB runs left at Pep, Pep gets sealed, 8 yd gain (Missed Imapct)
5-2 Pep rushes drop back QB, runs over LT and gets a hit on QB just after pass goes incomplete (Pos Impact)
5-3 Quick pass to other side (No factor)
5-4 Pep out this play
5-5 Pep in on rt side, Pass the other way (No factor)
5-6 Pep is double teamed on a pass play (No factor)
- Number of plays that went away from him: 7 of 21 or 33% (This was 24% after week 2 last time)
- Number of plays where Pep had no effect though he had at least a slight opportunity to do so: 3 of 21 or 14%. If you don't count plays on the sideline or non-factor plays due to play call its 33%. (This was 52% last time)
- Number of decent or good plays with positive results: 6 of 21 or 29%. If you don't count the plays he's on the sideline or plays he was a non-factor its 6 of 9 or 67%. (The second calculation was 12% last time).
- Number of plays on the sideline: 5 of 21 or 24%. (This was 17% last time)
The numbers support the notion that Peppers is not only making a big plays but he is making positive impacts at a higher rate when the opportunity is there. Teams are running plays away from Pep at a higher rate though if the right play is called you can get the edge on him. Overall based on his recent play he will command double teams or will be able to pressure the QB at least once every two pass plays. That is the type of impact Panther fans have grown to expect from Peppers though few DE's in the league have similar impacts every game.
I'll leave that one to you my readers...(MP?)