A Sack Full of Sacks But Not Forced Fumbles

Close to one-fourth of sacks resulted in fumbles last season, but the Packers fell far short of that number. In fact, Green Bay finished near the top in sacks and near the bottom in forced fumbles.

Perhaps the biggest offseason focus for the Green Bay Packers' defense is the need to force more fumbles.

One interesting number mentioned by coach Mike McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dom Capers during offseason practices, both to media and the players, is that 48 percent of all fumbles are by quarterbacks.

The Packers, for better or worse, were right at that average.

Actually, 50 percent of the Packers' forced fumbles came on quarterbacks. However, the Packers tied for 29th in the league by forcing just eight fumbles in 2012.

It was a startling low number by any measurement, but that's especially true when you consider the Packers finished with 47 sacks, the fourth-most in the league.

Last season, quarterbacks fumbled 264 times, an average of 8.25 per team. Despite ranking fourth in sacks, the Packers forced just four fumbles by quarterbacks: one apiece by Clay Matthews, Morgan Burnett, Dezman Moses and Jerel Worthy.

Not all fumbles by quarterbacks come on sacks, so this math isn't exactly correct but it paints a good picture. Last season, there were 1,169 sacks and 264 quarterback fumbles, or 22.58 percent. The Packers had 47 sacks and generated four quarterback fumbles, or 8.51 percent.

"It's one of those areas that we've tried to look at and place emphasis on," Capers said. "We need to cause more and recover more fumbles. A big part of causing and recovering fumbles in this league has to do with the opposing quarterback."

Last season, the Broncos (52), Rams (52), Bengals (51), Texans (44) and Vikings (44) joined the Packers in the top six in sacks. They finished third, 24th, fifth, fifth and 13th, respectively, in forced fumbles.

Of the top 12 teams in forcing fumbles, 11 finished in the top half in sacks.

"A majority of forced fumbles are coming from the quarterback with the ball," defensive lineman B.J. Raji said. "That's really an odd situation where you have that many sacks but your forced fumbles are so low. (The coaches) emphasized the fact we're getting (to the quarterback). Now we just need to start going after the right thing, which is the ball. The second part of it is just our pursuit. That's the second way you get the ball out is everybody pursuing the ball. I think guys really understand where he's coming from and hopefully we get that done."

One turnover can make all the difference. Who knows what happens if the Packers cash in on two chances in last year's three-point loss at Indianapolis. It might have made the difference between a win and a loss, 11-5 and 12-4, a playoff game at San Francisco and a home playoff game against San Francisco.

"You think about the Colts game last year," Capers said, "you remember the one where Clay came and knocked the ball out of (Andrew) Luck's hands and it was rolling around? We had about a quarter of the field and D.J. (Smith) went to scoop it and scoops it out of bounds. If we get that one, we probably win the game because we got the ball down there. Because in the same game, when Nick Perry came off the back side and knocked that ball out, we got it at the 15-yard line and the flag comes out on that one."

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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 packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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