Bad at Forcing Fumbles, Worse Recovering Them

Green Bay's defense and special teams have been bad at forcing fumbles, and they've been inexplicably horrible at completing the takeaway. Given these numbers from our research, no wonder the Packers are putting an increased emphasis on stripping the ball.

Defensively, the Green Bay Packers excel at one thing: Intercepting the ball.

During Dom Capers' first four seasons as defensive coordinator, the Packers have 103 interceptions. That not only leads the league, but Chicago ranks second with 100 interceptions over the past five seasons.

Where the Packers haven't excelled is forcing fumbles.

Over the past four seasons, the Packers are tied for 18th with 83 forced fumbles. It's a whopping 39 behind top-ranked Chicago's 122. NFC North rivals Minnesota and Detroit are tied for fourth with 101 forced fumbles. Green Bay is far closer to the bottom of the pecking order, with Indianapolis ranking 32nd with 70 forced fumbles.

It's something that Packers coach Mike McCarthy is well aware of, based on the obviously increased emphasis at Tuesday's organized team activities practice. Defenders routinely swarmed the ball-carrier and tried to tug and yank and pry the ball loose.

"There has to be (more of an emphasis)," McCarthy said. "We practice it every day. We have a drill that's specifically ball security every single day as far as taking it away and ball extraction. Statistically, we're not where we need to be, so it's definitely one of the emphasis for our football team, particularly our defense and our coverage units coming out of the offseason study."

Forcing fumbles hasn't been a strong suit at any point over the past four seasons, and the Packers have gone from mediocre to flat-out bad. After forcing a 13th-ranked 24 fumbles in 2009, Green Bay forced a 14th-ranked 22 fumbles in 2010, a 20th-ranked 19 fumbles and 2011 and a 20th-ranked 18 fumbles in 2012.

And now they don't have Charles Woodson, who with 11 forced fumbles over the past four seasons was one of the better thieves in the league.

One problem is the Packers simply don't have any big hitters on defense other than Clay Matthews, who has seven forced fumbles during his first four seasons. It goes beyond that, however. Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman isn't a blow-'em-up hitter but his 10 forced fumbles in 2012 are tied for the most in the league since 1991. It also takes a mentality of getting as many defenders as possible to wrap up the ball-carrier and then go for the ball. That's been a missing element.

If forcing fumbles is relatively easy to explain, then it's inexplicable how the Packers have had such a devil of a time recovering them.

Essentially, recovering a fumble is a 50-50 proposition. The Packers, however, are the only team in the league to have failed to recover 50 percent of their forced fumbles at any point over the last four years.

The Packers recovered 5-of-18 forced fumbles in 2012 (27.8 percent), 7-of-19 (36.8 percent) in 2011, 8-of-22 (36.4 percent) in 2010 and 10-of-24 (41.7 percent) in 2012.

They ranked 28th with five recoveries in 2012, 26th with seven in 2011, 24th with eight in 2010 and 17th with 10 in 2009.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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