Wednesday, Sept. 26
His absence in the category marked "Sacks" is conspicuous, to say the least.
Through three games, Carolina Panthers defensive end Julius Peppers has not registered a sack. Just as bad, he only has two quarterback pressures. And his horrible start has filtered to the rest of the unit, which has just two sacks in three games.
It gets worse for Peppers. Todd Weiner, Atlanta's right tackle, handled Peppers almost single-handedly on Sunday. This is an All-Pro defensive end being stonewalled by a guy that, frankly, I hadn't heard of until I watched the Falcons-Panthers game on Tuesday.
The words I kept hearing during the broadcast were "lack of energy." Even Peppers has admitted it. The Charlotte media is calling Peppers out for his play, as they should. This is a guy that was hoping to get a fat contract — in the vicinity of Indy's Dwight Freeney — and even made some noise about that before the season.
And this is how he plays so far this year? It's part of the reason Carolina's defense struggled against the Falcons, and unless Peppers summons it on Sunday against Tampa Bay, the Panthers defense may struggle again.
But Peppers always seems to bring it against the Bucs. ALWAYS.
Links to the best Bucs stories
Check out Bucsblitz.com for our latest articles for this week's game, Film Session and First Look articles. Film Session is a breakdown of some of the best and worst plays of the Rams-Bucs game by yours truly, while the First Look article is an update on the Panthers entering this weekend.
Do the Bucs need more money? Well, they're going to get some anyway. The Bucs will get about a $300,000 windfall from this weekend's game between South Florida and West Virginia at Raymond James Stadium. The game is a sellout, something the Bucs are used to, but the Bulls aren't.
And while you might think Bank of American Stadium is a house of horrors for the Bucs, Charlotte (N.C.) Observer columnist Scott Fowler writes that it's not much better for the Panthers.
Gruden to come later today. Until then. MP