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Did Julius Peppers earn his paycheck in Week 16?

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Dan Parr
Associate editor

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Posted Dec. 27, 2010 @ 2:10 p.m. ET
By Dan Parr

Bears DE Julius Peppers became one of the league's highest-paid players in the offseason when he reportedly signed a six-year deal worth up to $91.5 million with $42 million guaranteed. Each week we will take a close look at his performance to see if he played up to the high standard that comes with such a lucrative deal.

When a player is being paid as highly as Peppers is, it's tough to make the case that he was worth the price on a day when he is credited with only one tackle. Peppers has played at a Pro Bowl level and no doubt earns his paycheck the vast majority of the time, but against the Jets Sunday he just didn't do as much as we're used to seeing him do.

It didn't look like he wasn't trying hard enough to make plays. He hurried QB Mark Sanchez on a few occasions, but the Jets were able to keep him and the rest of the Bears' pass rush neutralized. The Jets had Sanchez take a lot of short, three-step drops and their pass protection held up well. The Bears didn't register a sack and Sanchez, playing with a sore shoulder, didn't get touched by defenders much.

Peppers credited the Jets' pass blockers after the game, saying they did a good job of picking up the Bears' stunts on the defensive line and that he and his teammates "didn't adjust."

The Bears have a 3-1 record in games in which they failed to register a sack in 2010, so they can overcome limited production from the pass rush. Peppers is going to have outings like he did Sunday, but Chicago has to hope that it's the last one of those for a while.

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