Coupled with the release of Charles Woodson, the Packers have parted ways this offseason with the top two fumble producers of coach Mike McCarthy's tenure.
McCarthy was hired as Green Bay's coach in 2006. In his seven seasons, Woodson forced 15 fumbles, Bishop forced eight and Clay Matthews forced seven, based on the numbers compiled by the coaches' film review. In all, eight players forced at least four fumbles. Six of those players are no longer on the team. An additional three players forced at least three fumbles, and two of them aren't on the team, either. Thus, of the 11 players who forced at least three fumbles, eight of them are no longer on the roster.
Of the 86 forced fumbles during McCarthy's tenure, only 25 have come by players on the current roster. Compare that to the 27 fumbles created by Woodson, Bishop, Frank Zombo, Tom Crabtree and Erik Walden — five players who were released or allowed to depart via free agency this offseason.
Without much in the way of proven fumble producers, it stands to reason why the coaching staff has made such an emphasis out of swarming to the ball-carrier and trying to strip the ball. Other than Matthews, who creates big-play opportunities with 42.5 sacks in four seasons, only Morgan Burnett has shown the ability to knock the ball loose. Tramon Williams has forced three career fumbles and nobody else has forced more than one.
Even Matthews isn't above reproach, however. Twenty defenders notched double-digits sacks last season. They averaged 2.9 forced fumbles. Ten forced at least three fumbles, and seven of those had at least four. Carolina's Charles Johnson forced seven sacks, matching Matthews' career total, and Denver's tandem of Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil (now with Baltimore) had six apiece.
Forced fumbles (coaches' numbers)
Woodson: 15 (one in 2012, one in 2011, five in 2010, four in 2009, one in 2008, three in 2006).
Bishop: eight (two in 2011, two in 2010, one in 2009, three in 2008).
Matthews: seven (one in 2012, three in 2011, two in 2010, one in 2009).
Kampman: five (one in 2009, one in 2007, three in 2006).
Burnett: four (two in 2012, two in 2011).
Collins: four (one in 2011, one in 2008, two in 2006).
Gbaja-Biamila: four (two in 2007, two in 2006)
Jenkins: four (three in 2009, one in 2008).
Bigby: three (three in 2007).
C. Williams: three (three in 2007).
T. Williams: three (one in 2010, two in 2008).
Blackmon: two (two in 2008).
Hawk: two (one in 2007, one in 2006)
Poppinga: two (two in 2006).
Zombo: two (two in 2010).
Barnett: one (one in 2008).
Bush: one (one in 2010).
Chillar: one (one in 2008).
Cole: one (one in 2006).
Crabtree: one (one in 2011).
Francois: one (one in 2011).
H. Green: one (one in 2010),
Hayward: one (one in 2012).
Holliday: one (one in 2006).
Jolly: one (one in 2009).
B. Jones: one (one in 2012).
Montgomery: one (one in 2008).
Moses: one (one in 2012).
Neal: one (one in 2010).
Peprah: one (one in 2011).
Shields: one (one in 2011).
Walden: one (one in 2011).
Worthy: one (one in 2012).
Total: 86 (eight in 2012, 14 in 2011, 15 in 2010, 11 in 2009, 13 in 2008, 10 in 2007, 15 in 2006).
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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 email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.