Is it a coincidence that the Carolina Panthers, with Julius Peppers back on the roster, have the NFL’s top defense thus far in 2017?

Most say not and Peppers has already gone on record as saying this is the best defense he has ever played on. This from a guy who played for the 2012 Chicago Bears defense  that was top ranked in the NFL and for the Panthers back in 2005 when Carolina ranked second in defense.

I did some checking. Nine times in his previous 15 seasons the 37-year-old defensive end, who ranks fifth in the NFL in all-time sacks, has been on a unit that finished in the top 10.

And now Peppers is on a Panthers team that has not given up a touchdown in the first two games. Yes, Carolina is 2-0 after beating San Francisco 23-3 in its opener prior to beating Buffalo 9-3 last Sunday.

The Panthers are stacking up impressive defensive stats. They rank first in the NFL in total defense, giving up 196.5 yards a game, and first in scoring defense, allowing three points a game.

A coincidence upon Peppers’ arrival? I think not.

Just Think About This For A Second

File this under the ‘Did you Know’ factoid.

Did you know that Joe Thomas, an offensive lineman for the Cleveland Browns, just surpassed playing 10,000 consecutive snaps?

Think about this as you read or hear of the multitude of injuries you hear weekly in the NFL. Ten thousand straight plays. No major injury. No rest.

The standout left tackle has not missed a single play since he was the third overall pick in the 2007 draft. Through losing and quarterback changes and more losing and more quarterback changes, Thomas has seen it all for the lowly Browns.
While Thomas was going to the Pro Bowl in each of his first 10 seasons in the league, he was playing for a team that has had one winning season and gone 48-113 since he was drafted.

If you do the math, you will discover that Thomas has started 161 consecutive games. He has blocked for 19 different starting quarterbacks and 24 signalcallers in all. Ten left guards have lined up next to him over the last decade.

Actually, Thomas has suffered injuries. He just reacts differently and plays through them. In 2015, Thomas revealed that he has played through three torn MCLs and two high ankle sprains. One of the knee injuries would have sidelined him, but it happened in the 2012 season finale, so Thomas just played through it.
Quite a story. Quite a feat.
Silver Lining

NBA commissioner Adam Silver made it clear this week that he wants some changes in his league. While speaking at the NBA’s board of governors meeting, Silver let it be known that he wants franchises to come up with ideas to address team’s recent practice of resting star players for entire games.

Silver let it be known that if teams do not come up with their own plan, there will be draconian rule changes regarding this practice. He wants paying fans to see the game’s best players.

Silver is hellbent on a solution. He has laid the framework by virtually eliminating back-to-back games.  He has warned that the NBA’s future revenues and growth are directly tied to solving the resting issue, because that problem threatens regular-season and playoff ratings along with the cumulative cost of eroding interest in the sport.

Julius Peppers