Sunday, October 11, 2009

How I wrote the Peppers "Is he worth it?" story

Here's a link to the Julius Peppers story that I worked on all this week and part of last week as well. And here's how I did it.

To try and quantify the impact Peppers has had since he became the first Panther player to get paid a million dollars per game in base salary, I watched every defensive snap in the Panthers’ first three games after recording the games at home off TV.

On each play, I noted whether Peppers was in the game (he played on 82 percent of the defensive snaps). I also noted whether the play was a run or pass, where Peppers lined up, whether he was double-teamed, whether he dropped into coverage, whether he disrupted the offense in any sense and what the play’s overall result was. I watched almost every play twice to make sure of what I saw. (I did not count kneel-downs at the end of games in my play totals).

Any time Peppers was touched by more than one player – such as a running back “chipping” him with a shoulder on the way out of the backfield to a short pass route – I counted that as a double-team. I also counted it as a double-team when two players were obviously available to block him, even if he only made contact with one.

(Note: I've already had a couple of questions from readers about this story, so here are a couple of answers to those reader questions below).

Q: How did the Panthers' other defensive ends compare to Peppers when you watched them all on tape?
A: Even worse. For all his faults, Peppers is still clearly Carolina's best pass rusher. Damione Lewis and Charles Johnson at least get around the QB some. Tyler Brayton and rookie Everette Brown? They've basically been swallowed up on every pass play this season (no QB pressures between them, although Brown has had far fewer snaps).

Q: What, do you think you're an assistant coach or something?
A: No, not at all. I recognize that even after covering NFL football for something like 20 years, my eye is untrained compared to someone who coaches football for a living. But this story, I believe, at least helps to quantify some of the mysteries that surround Peppers and all defensive ends like them because there are so few defensive stats available for positions such as theirs.

Q: Do you think Peppers is taking plays off out there?
A: As I wrote in the column -- again, the link is here -- I think he takes the "second half" of a significant number of plays off. In other words, if Peppers' initial burst is contained within the first two seconds of a play, you don't see him doing much if anything after that. There's no sense of "Wow, he really kept fighting and look at that, he lucked into a coverage sack" or him chasing down a ball-carrier held up in traffic 30 yards downfield. If he doesn't get there immediately -- and the 4-time Pro Bowler has rarely gotten there immediately this season -- then he doesn't get there at all.


Anonymous said...

They guy was just like what the scouts described when he came out of college. He is lazy and now that he has millions of dollars, He doesnt give a darn, he might as well be sitting on the sidelines. At least someone is calling him out now about his lack of effort, Beason should be commended for finally saying what every panther player thinks

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the effort you put into the write-up

AK Joe

Roderico said...

Stop hatin on Peppers, they decided to sign him even though he said he didnt wanna play for them. Dont fault him, fault there management for being stupid enough to make him the highest payed player in the league this year.

Bill Coward said...

C'mon Fowler, just because your a Charlotte sportswriter doesnt mean you cant call out Richardson for allowing this nonsense to take place. Who in there right mind wouldnt trade Peppers after what he said in the offseason. The guy DID NOT wanna be here, HE MADE THAT CLEAR and call me stupid, but I think he would probably flourish as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense

Anonymous said...

Lazy, questionable heart, no intensity, cowers down in big situations...sounds like we got Pepper sprayed on this $18,000,000 deal!

hammer1 said...

Good point why arent anyone calling out Mr.Richardson he dont do interveiws either huh!typical of the whole organization.Other Owners are more vocal about players He just pays them and allow the media to crucify em and says nothing.Jenkins wanted out for a reason we was just more vocal and didnt care so we didnt care. Pep cares and gets hammered for it.Bull crap plus were not winning cause of jake, fox, jefferson playcalling is the worst no imagination underacheiving period!.Plus Rich family in turmoil and scott only wants to singal out pep hope he catch you in hall someday.Who else even comes close to # 90 .This article is bullcrap stop writing worthless article about our best players.Interveiw Big Cat about his coaches first before you print crap we Love PEP! Hater Scott u aint worth you salary either!

hammer1 said...

If you a real sports writer get an exclusive with big cat.Ask him the tough question make him give fans an answer please! It cant be that hard you've sucked up to him for years.Pep making a mill a game is nothing compared to jake giving the ball away 8 times in three games and he sits and dont do nothing but he wants fans to support him and fox but we cant get real answers to real questions in this secret society they have build in charlotte.Why every positioned is earned except Quarterback and this ridiculous beleif they jake is perfect for what we do here and thats loose big games and start the season O-3.Lets see you earn your pay now!

James said...

Scott can the Panthers still trade Peppers this year, or are they restricted because he signed his franchise tender. I know it won't happen one way or the other, but its fun to hope we could get a 2nd or 3rd round pick and maybe a young qb in return