If there has been one promising development over the past few weeks for the Green Bay Packers, it has been the defense.
After allowing more than 500 yards against Denver and San Diego — then another 427 to the Carolina Panthers, it appeared the Packers were back to their same old ways of playing defense. Yet, in the past three weeks, the Packers have been stingy. Green Bay is allowing just 306 yards per game and just 18 points.
Those are outstanding numbers and are more than good enough for the Packers to have earned three victories. But one thing is missing — turnovers.
During those three games, the Packers forced just two turnovers and in the loss last week to the Chicago Bears — Green Bay didn’t intercept a Jay Cutler pass at Lambeau Field for the first time in his seven years in Chicago.
For the season, the Packers rank just 21st in takeaways, despite ranking ninth in the league in interceptions. And if they want to continue to development as a defense, the next step is getting more takeaways.
Generally, throughout the Dom Capers era, the Packers have excelled at turning over opponents. And while the Packers haven’t been terrible this season — they do have a takeaway in 10 of 11 games — they have only taken the football away multiple times on just two occasions.
When the offense has struggled worse than possibly ever in the Aaron Rodgers era, a short field would be a welcome sight, yet for whatever reason, Caper’s crew has simply been unable to provide it.
The inability to turn teams over has also hurt Green Bay’s ability to posses the ball. The Packers rank 21st in offensive time of possession and 27th when it comes to the amount of time the defense is on the field.
That statistic may not seem significant but over 16 games it begins to add up and it’s one of the reasons why the Packers are near the bottom of the NFL in plays per game — a stat they used to dominate.
So while the Packers are allowing just 4.2 yards per carry and have held opposing quarterbacks to just 14 touchdowns compared to 11 interceptions, as well as a points per game average that ranks sixth in the league — if this Green Bay defense is going to have a chance at becoming a championship defense — it needs to start taking the football away more frequently.
And it needs to start on Thursday night with the Detroit Lions and Matthew Stafford.