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Allen vs. Peppers: Who has been the better player?

On Sunday the Bears and Packers will meet for the first time this season. While the rivalry is multi-facetted and the spotlight will be on players such as Jay Cutler and Aaron Rodgers, two talked-about players will be Julius Peppers, a former Bear who joined the Packers this offseason, and his Chicago replacement Jared Allen. Which player has been more disruptive this year?

Jonathan Daniel

The Green Bay Packers aren't usually big players in the free agency market. They are better-known for their draft prowess, and that leads them more to re-sign their own players than to spend big on free agency.

This offseason was different, though.

The Bears needed to release Julius Peppers after contract restructuring ballooned his cap hit to become too much for the team. After signing him to a $90 million contract in 2010 his play had dropped off and, with the cap hit and his age, it was time to go.

The Bears had signed Lamarr Houston and Willie Young, plus with the Cutler contract extension it was a matter of time before Peppers was released.

Five days later, on March 15, Peppers signed a three-year contract with the rival Green Bay Packers. Almost immediately there were fans on this very blog speculating that he was overpaid and wondered how effective he would be in a new scheme and position.

Then 11 days later the Bears signed Jared Allen to a four-year deal. Almost immediately fans started saying this was an upgrade over Peppers.

In June I wondered who has more left in the tank and, being a Bears site, the overwhelming majority was that Allen did. Some did point out that Peppers seemed not to gel with the new coaching staff, and was therefore unmotivated.

But now the games have started, and there is at least some statistical evidence to back up the offseason speculation.

Which player has had a bigger impact for their team? While Peppers is the only one of the two with a sack, there are other stats that can be used: tackles, tackles for loss, QB hurries and hits or knockdowns.

I have mapped these stats for each player on the chart below:

Player Tackles TFL Sacks Hurries
Julius Peppers 7 (3 assists) 1 1 2
Jared Allen 7 (4 assists) 1 0 1

So there really hasn't been much of a statistical difference between the two. I got the numbers from Both players are doing their part and, while they have gotten off to a slow start to the season, it doesn't mean that either one has been a bust of a signing.

These stats are only part of the story though.

Allen started out with a bad game against the Bills, highlighted (or lowlighted) by his hard bite on the read option that ended up going for E.J. Manuel's touchdown. But he has played better, really coming alive late in the Jets game on Monday night. After being stonewalled by D'Brickashaw Ferguson for much of the game, Allen was applying pressure to Geno Smith and he ended the game with the team lead in QB disruptions.

Peppers is tied for fourth in the league with 11 quarterback pressures while Allen has just three total.

When looking at those metrics it would appear that Peppers has been the superior player thus far, especially when their snap totals are taken into account.

Peppers has played 75.9 percent of the Packers' defensive snaps (164 of 216) while Allen has played 90.9 percent (180 of 190). The fourth-most pressures in the league on three-quarters of his team's defensive plays, that is impressive.

Perhaps the Bears should be rotating Allen out more in order to get more out of him because he hasn't been very productive for the amount of snaps he's playing.

Come Sunday, these will be two of the most talked about players on either team's defense. Peppers will be looking to make sure his former team sees what they're missing, while Allen will try to make an impact with his new team.

Do you think Allen has been a disappointment so far?