Aaron Rodgers and the offense get the headlines, but it’s one key defensive statistic that determined whether the Green Bay Packers won or lost last season.
Simply, when the Packers tackled well, they won – or at least their defense played well enough to win. In Green Bay’s 13 victories (including postseason), the Packers averaged just 5.8 missed tackles per game, according to the weekly stats at ProFootballFocus.com. In their five losses, they missed 13.6 tackles per game. Remarkably, the Packers missed 76 tackles in their five wins compared to 68 tackles in the five losses.
Green Bay went 13-1 when missing no more than 10 tackles in a game. The lone exception? The Week 3 loss at Detroit, with Green Bay missing only six tackles in that 19-7 setback. In the Packers’ other losses, they missed 18 in Week 1 at Seattle, 13 in Week 8 at New Orleans, 12 in Week 15 at Buffalo and 19 in the NFC Championship loss at Seattle.
What happened down the stretch in that final overtime loss to the Seahawks was remarkable because the Packers had hit their tackling stride. In Week 16, they missed three tackles at Tampa Bay. In Week 17, they missed four tackles against Detroit. And in the divisional win over Dallas, the Packers missed only five tackles. That was by far their best three-game stretch of the season. With a trip to the Super Bowl on the line, Green Bay missed four tackles in the first half, 13 in the second half and two overtime, according to PFF’s Sam Monson.
For the season, Green Bay missed 120 tackles. That was tied for 20th in the NFL, according to ProFootballFocus.com. (See chart for the team-by-team numbers.)
It’s a small sample size, but a full season of Sam Barrington and Clay Matthews in the middle of the Packers’ defense should help those numbers. Barrington was the third-best tackler among the 70 inside linebackers who earned 25 percent playing time last season, according to PFF, with three misses in 60 attempts for a rate of 20.0. A.J. Hawk ranked fifth (five misses; rate of 18.8), so he generally made the play when he was able to get to it. Matthews’ data includes his snaps at outside linebacker, but he missed only three tackles for a rate of 16.0). Jamari Lattimore was 57th (three misses; rate of 7.3) and Brad Jones was 70th and last (three misses; rate of 2.8).
The Packers have to tackle better in the secondary, in general, and cornerback, in particular. Morgan Burnett ranked 14th out of 96 safeties who played 25 percent of the snaps with nine misses for a rate of 13.7 tackle opportunities per miss. However, HaHa Clinton-Dix ranked 68th with 15 misses for a rate of 6.3. The hope is experience alone will help him make a big jump. In fact, that might have been the case down the stretch, as Clinton-Dix didn’t miss a single tackle in the final four games after missing a combined seven vs. New England, Atlanta and Buffalo in the preceding three games.
Of the 125 cornerbacks who got 25 percent playing time, Tramon Williams was 49th (eight misses; rate of 9.5), Casey Hayward was 95th (seven misses; rate of 6.0), Sam Shields was 110th (11 misses; rate of 4.9) and Davon House was 113th (six misses; rate of 48). Combined between nickel cornerback and safety, Micah Hyde missed eight tackles (rate of 8.1).
Green Bay’s 120 misses were its most in the past five seasons. We’ll have a big-picture look at missed tackles for Tuesday’s Countdown piece.
Missed tackles: 2014
Source: ProFootballFocus.comBill 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.