Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE Over the last six seasons, the Green Bay Packers have qualified for the playoffs six consecutive times, with a Super Bowl win in 2010 and four consecutive division titles from 2011 through 2014.
For the most part, that success has been delivered by destroying teams on offense and dominating on turnovers.
After scoring 38 points against Kansas City in Week 3, the offense has only sporadically produced over the last eight games, including an average of 19.3 points during a 1-4 stretch that has sent the Packers (7-4) tumbling down the NFC standings. The Packers are even in turnovers during those five games, including minus-2 in Thursday night’s shocking loss to Chicago.
“Let’s make it clear,” coach Mike McCarthy said on Sunday, “we’ve been successful here, and success, you don’t own success. It’s rented. And you’ve got to earn it each and every day. I have a lot of love for our players, but I hate losing as much as anybody, especially a game where you felt like you had a lot of opportunities to win the game. Yeah, I was disappointed, I was frustrated. And the games that are close always come down to the details, and when I’m minus-2 in a football game, I’m never going to be happy about that, because I know how much time we put in to taking the ball away and taking care of it. So that’s something that my football team needed to reflect every single time we take the field. We better take care of the football and we better take it away when we have opportunities. That’s cut and dry. That’s a staple of how we play here.”
Against Chicago, Eddie Lacy was stripped from behind in the second quarter and Aaron Rodgers was intercepted on a pass to Davante Adams. For Lacy, it was his fourth fumble in his past five games. As for the interception, McCarthy was critical of Adams’ route on Thursday; on Friday morning, McCarthy noted that Adams was illegally contacted before the pass was thrown.
On the other side of the ball, rookie cornerback Quinten Rollins dropped an interception and had a chance to recover a botched shotgun snap, which would have given the Packers the ball at the Bears’ 47 with about 5 minutes remaining.
Those are the kinds of things that didn’t happen during past seasons. From 2009 through 2014, a timeline corresponding with Dom Capers’ tenure as defensive coordinator, Green Bay was a second-best plus-76 in turnovers. They’re plus-6 this season, which again ranks among the league leaders, but it’s not the overwhelming performance that’s become a staple. That’s what bugged McCarthy after the game.
“There’s only so many things you can emphasize that you want your team to reflect each and every time you line up,” McCarthy said. “You all go to practice each and every day. We spend a lot of time on taking the ball away, takeaway drills, catching the football, handling the football, how we carry the football, ball-security drills. I think it definitely reflects in our turnover ratio in my time here. It’s a primary emphasis, the team with the football has the best chance to win, obviously. It’s a very obvious factor in the game of football. So when you don’t take care of the football and you’re minus-2, that’s what happens. You have a hard time winning a game. So we need to do a better job taking care of the football.”
The challenge on Thursday will be turning the tide against the Lions, who used a shocking win at Green Bay on Nov. 15 to win three consecutive games after a 1-7 start. The Lions have turned it over just once during their winning streak.
“I think when you look at the contributing factors,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell said during a conference call, “that’s the No. 1 predictor of wins and losses in our entire league and in football, period, whether it’s Pop Warner or high school or whatever it might be. I do think that that’s a huge factor.”
Bill Huber is publisher of 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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.