New defensive line coach Brian Baker has a challenge coaching a line that – except for Jay Ratliff – was only average during the season. But Baker has had bigger challenges. He was the defensive line coach in Carolina and last season, the Panthers had to play without Julius Peppers, who signed a huge free agent contract with the Bears.
But Baker handled the challenge quite well. Peppers is one of the top pass rushers in the league, but in his last season in Carolina, the Panthers had 31 sacks. The season after he left, they also had 31. Defensive end Charles Johnson, a fourth-year player out of Georgia, increased his sack total from four to 12 after Peppers left. Peppers had eight in Chicago.
“That was challenging,” Baker said. “The thing that was great about coaching Pepp obviously his skill level speaks for itself, but he was such a great person, such a great leader by example and doing those things. [After he leaves] you have to find that other guy in the room. We actually had a guy that had as many sacks as he did. From that standpoint, that was there, but just replacing his as a man was the hard part.”
-- jan Hubbard