Reasons Why Julius Peppers Will Win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award
In 2010, for example, Peppers finished with eight sacks and 23 quarterback pressures and was named to the AP All-Pro team.
Last year was better, with Peppers collecting 11 sacks and 55 quarterback pressures on the season but falling short of earning a second consecutive All-Pro win.
While the Bears offense has gotten most of the preseason press, the defense is once again under speculation of getting too old.
In typical Bears fashion, however, the defense consistently ranks as one of the best units in the NFL, and 2012 will be more of the same.
Here are reasons why Julius Peppers will challenge for some post season hardware.
Bears Will Field Two of the Best DTs in the NFL
Unbeknownst to anyone who follows the NFL, the Bears will field a pair of defensive tackles that are among the best in the league. Most everyone is catching on to how good Henry Melton is; he emerged during the season to finish with seven sacks.
Stephen Paea, however, is lesser known for a number of reasons. One, he didn't play a lot because he wasn't fully recovered from an injury. Two, he was a rookie that was overshadowed by more prominent names like Nick Fairley, Marcel Dareus, and Corey Liuget.
Paea, however, is every bit as talented as those three and would have been a first-round pick were it not for his injury and his slight drop in production.
Now Paea is set to emerge onto the NFL scene and he will in a big way. Melton's presence, combined with Paea's emergence, will make things easy for Peppers to rack up some impressive sack numbers.
The Bears Offense Will Be Much Better
How precisely is the Bears offense going to help Julius Peppers win the NFL DPOY award?
Simple, the better the offense is, the more rested and fresh the defense will be, and the result will be Peppers will be able to make impact plays late in games.
Last year the Bears were on the field more than any other defense in the NFL. They had more drives against them than any team and the reason for that was the ineptitude of the offense.
This was especially apparent after Jay Cutler went out and Caleb Hanie was the starter. The Bears offense struggled in those last six games to put together any drives on offense, which left the defense vulnerable to being on the field to keep the Bears in games.
As a result, the Bears were absolutely winded on defense from about the mid-third quarter until the end of the game.
A fresh Julius Peppers in the fourth quarter when the Bears have the lead will give him plenty of opportunities to pin his ears back and rush the passer.
The Addition of Shea McClellin
No one knows how good Shea McClellin is going to be or how big of an impact he'll have as a rookie. McClellin's impact could be minimal, but it will be a far bigger impact than the defensive-end rotation the Bears fielded in 2011.
After Corey Wootton went down with an injury during the first play of the first game of the preseason, he never got back to full health.
As a result, the Bears defensive-end rotation hinged on the under-sized Nick Reed who was eventually cut midseason.
He was backed up by UDFA Mario Addison, who also went on to be cut. As a result, Peppers played more snaps on defense than any other player on the team.
McClellin's addition means there will be a legitimate NFL player that can come and give Peppers a breather every so often.
Improved talent also means less focus will be on Peppers, which will leave him in more one-on-one pass rushing situations.
The Bears Will Have a Better Record
The simplest reason Peppers will be considered for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award is simple: the Bears will win more games.
The fact of the matter is, awards always go to players on teams with winning records. The Bears will have one of the best defenses in the NFL yet again in 2012 and Peppers will have the type of season that will stand out to voters.
With the Bears winning a lot of games, Peppers will get noticed and he'll automatically be in contention no matter what his stats are.
In 2010, Peppers had a modest eight sacks, but because the Bears made it all the way to the NFC title game, Peppers earned All-Pro honors.
The NFL Is a Passing League
This may seem like a reach, but hear me out on my reasoning. Everyone knows that the NFL is a passing league now, which puts a premium on rushing the passer.
This is what Peppers can do best, pin his ears back and get after the quarterback. Peppers will again have plenty of opportunities like he did in 2011 to get to the QB.
The Bears' defense is always stout against the run, so teams will try to challenge the veteran corners and throw the ball more.
Also in the Bears' division, there are two offenses who prefer to let their passing attack lead their offensive production. Neither the Lions or the Packers run the ball very well, and neither team did anything to address this weakness in the offseason.
Lastly, the Bears had the second-most pass attempts against their defense during the 2011 season. The way things are, that number isn't likely to change much.
Brett Solesky is editor and publisher of MidwayIllustrated.com a Chicago Bears blog. For more articles about the Bears, including a weekly podcast featuring weekly player interviews and other in-depth information visit my blog.