From 2009 through 2012, Charles Woodson forced 11 fumbles and Desmond Bishop forced five. Of the 48 forced fumbles counted by the Packers' coaching staff during the past four years, Woodson and Bishop represent exactly one-third of the total. That's a remarkably high number when taken by itself. It's unbelievably high considering Bishop missed all of last season and started only in 2010 and 2011, and Woodson missed half of last season.
"We've certainly been a lot better intercepting than we ever have been with fumbles, and I wish I had an answer for you, because I can go back to some teams I've been with where I thought we were outstanding in causing fumbles and recovering them," defensive coordinator Dom Capers said during the minicamp. "That's why we're working on them so much right now. You see all the pursuit and leverage drills, and we're trying to make an emphasis that you get there and punch at the ball. Obviously, the Bears have done a great job of that. You get certain guys who have a knack for it. You know, Charles Woodson was always good at punching the ball out, (and Chicago's Charles) Tillman is as probably as good as there is at punching the ball out."
Without Woodson and Bishop, the Packers have almost nobody with "a knack" for forcing fumbles. Over the last four seasons – encompassing Capers' tenure as defensive coordinator – Clay Matthews has forced seven fumbles and Morgan Burnett has forced four in his three seasons. Otherwise, there's not a single member of the current defensive roster who has forced more than one fumble over the last four years.
Remarkably, the player with the fifth-most forced fumbles during Capers' time in Green Bay is Frank Zombo, who forced two in 2010.
In that light, it's little wonder why the coaching staff has put such an emphasis on pursuit and stripping the football. The Packers simply don't have enough players with a knack of forcing fumbles.
"It's been fun to watch the guys buy in, because obviously they believe in what Coach McCarthy is talking about," said inside linebackers coach Winston Moss, who runs the daily ball-security drills. "So, it's fun to get on the field, it's fun to see those guys buy into what he's talking about from an emphasis standpoint. We need to address it because we do have the opportunity, based upon our scheme, to affect the passer, disrupt the passer. We're in situations where the ball-carrier is there and we have the opportunity to get the ball out. Whether it's the quarterback, whether it's the ball-carrier, the receiver, let's get the ball out. We're going to make an emphasis of that and see if those guys respond from a production standpoint. It's great to be running around in practice and doing some good stuff, but it would be something to see from a stats standpoint our numbers jump to where they're in the top tier of the NFL."
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.