Julius Peppers #90 of the Chicago Bears. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
I think some of the ways that NFL players are described are just silly. People refer to players as being "beasts" and "freaks" because calling them really good athletes just doesn't seem powerful enough.
Jevon Kearse is a player who actually had the nickname of "The Freak". He was that good as a DE that his nickname was nothing but overdramatic foolishness. Julius Peppers doesn't have a well-known nickname, but his career statistics show that he's more suited for that "Freak" nickname than Kearse ever was.
This weekend, Peppers will be at home, playing against a backup LT (who has arguable had two of the worst games in the history of offensive line play in his last three appearances) and running at a QB that has happy feat and a propensity for turning over the football. Uh oh.
If Norv Turner and Hal Hunter are not spending every waking moment trying to keep Peppers away from Rivers, they're going to get their star QB murdered in front of a large television audience on Sunday. Julius Peppers has "future Hall of Famer" written all over him and his career, which hasn't been dissimilar to the careers of the best pass-rushers of all time.
However, Peppers' ability to get to the QB with speed, moves or power is not his only threat. Julius hits QBs and RBs equally hard, and has forced at least 2 fumbles in each of his 10 seasons (35 total). He also knows when he's not going to get to the QB, putting up his hands and getting credit for defended passes. Other defensive linemen do this, but nobody does it nearly as well or as often as Peppers. To get an idea, Peppers knocked down 9 passes in 2010, which was just 2 less than the number of defended passes Quentin Jammer had.
You thought it stopped there? It does not. Julius also intercepts a substantial number of passes for a defensive linemen. He has 8 interceptions in 10 seasons, half of those coming in the last two years. He also knows what to do when he gets the ball in his hands, scoring 3 defensive touchdowns in his career.
Long story short, the worst Chargers starter might be going up against the best Bears player on Sunday. Even if the Chargers give Brandyn Dombrowski help to keep Rivers upright, Peppers still might be able to create fumbles, interceptions and defensive TDs in this game. This is the thing that Charger fans should be most afraid of heading into Sunday's chilly affair in Chicago.