In the past few days I've read a few articles regarding which defensive end position to place Julius Peppers. Julius is normally a right defensive end going against opposing teams' left tackles and attacking the QB's blind side, although he has played left end and he claims it does not matter to him where he lines up. Alex Brown is also a right defensive end and has also switched to left end during the 2007 season when Mark Anderson was given the starting right end job, which shows he's a team player and will do what is best for the team.
Why all this discussion on where to play Peppers? To me, it has left the option open to keep Alex Brown at his position, which as a average DE, he should play stronger at what is most comfortable to him while placing Julius on the left side because simply...he's a freak of nature and will get you production anywhere you place him. But is that the wiser decision to make? Julius is a right defensive end and no matter where he has played in the past, right end is where he is the most successful. It is where we've seen him work his magic and got our collective jaws-dropping at the sheer strength and straight up dominance he has displayed. But there's another side of the coin as well. The right tackle of an opposing team doesn't receive the type of pressure to perform quite like a left tackle does having to protect his QB from what he cannot see. Giving Julius the opportunity to do work against a team's right tackle would seem to be a favorable match-up for the Bears every time the ball is snapped, the only drawback is the QB can see him coming. No matter where you place Peppers, a powerhouse is coming and opposing teams better be prepared.
So how do you decide? You've spent $91 Million dollars bringing in one of the best and most versatile players in the NFL, so now what? In my opinion, he's a right defensive end and as a Bear he needs to play right defensive end, period. We're talking about a guy who has had 81 sacks over his 8 year career while almost exclusively playing right end and has said recently that he prefers to play right end because he leads with his left arm and considers it to be his "strong hand." But even more important than that, the #1 reason why I believe he has to be our starting right end next year can be summed up in two words...forced fumbles. Julius is an absolute monster having generated 30 forced fumbles over the course of his career. By allowing Peppers to get at the QB's blind side is what has made him so successful at forced fumbles and the beautiful spectacle that is the strip-sack! When Julius beats the tackle and you can't see him coming, you better hold on to that ball for dear life or he will take what is rightfully his. That to me is why he has to play right end this season. If you allow the QB to see Julius coming, you are hurting the probability that he will generate a turnover and that's what our defense is all about.
The $91 million dollar man needs to play where he has earned the respect that demands a $91 million dollar contract.
So what do you think, Bears fans? Left or right?