Packers Training Camp Countdown — 31 Days: Not in Giving Mood

Despite the team's offensive problems last season, turnovers weren't an issue for most of the year. Taking care of the football is a strength that must continue.

Last season, Green Bay Packers’ offense fell into a funk the depths of which hadn’t been seen since before Ron Wolf traded for Brett Favre.

One of the offensive strengths that didn’t deteriorate was its ability to protect the football and not beat itself with turnovers. Last season, the Packers tied for fourth in the NFL with 17 giveaways — their eighth top-10 finish in the past nine seasons. Their turnover count was the fifth-fewest in franchise history.

That, however, is only part of the story. During Green Bay’s 6-0 start, it turned over the ball four times — once vs. Seattle in Week 2 and three times vs. St. Louis in Week 5. Even after losing three consecutive games, the Packers had just six turnovers through the first 10 games. But in the final six games, the Packers had 11 giveaways.

With playoff seeding and NFC North bragging rights on the line, the Packers gave away the football two times in a home loss to Chicago, four times in an embarrassing loss at Arizona and two more times in the Week 17 showdown vs. Minnesota that cost the team its division stranglehold.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers didn’t have a good season by his lofty standards but he did toss a manageable eight interceptions. That's not unusual — Rodgers owns the lowest interception percentage in NFL history. The larger problem was fumbles. James Starks had five fumbles (three lost); he entered the season with five fumbles in his first five seasons combined. Eddie Lacy had four fumbles (two lost); he entered the season with four fumbles in his first two seasons combined. Starks’ fumbling woes, in particular, hurt the offense because he was the team’s most productive running back but couldn’t be trusted to carry the load.

“You’ve got to hold onto the football,” coach Mike McCarthy said after Starks fumbled during the regular-season loss to Arizona. “That’s been the case for 10 years now. If you don’t take care of the football you won’t play.”

Turnovers, of course, are the deciding factor in most games. Green Bay went 6-2 when it had zero giveaways and 2-0 when it had only one. That’s an 8-2 mark with one or fewer turnovers and a 2-4 record with two or more turnovers. Looking back to the start of the 2009 season, Green Bay is 43-7-1 with zero giveaways and 33-14 with one giveaway. That’s a combined 76-21-1 with one or fewer giveaways, a winning percentage of .781. With two or more giveaways, the record is 28-34 — a winning percentage of .452.

The chart below ranks teams by the number of giveaways since the start of the 2008 season — a timeline corresponding with Rodgers’ time at quarterback. The Patriots and Packers rank first and second, respectively, in winning percentage and turnovers. Of the top 14 teams in giveaways, 12 have winning records.

RkTeamWLTW-L%TO 
1 NWE 96 32 0 0.750 133
2 GNB 83 44 1 0.652 144
3 SFO 70 57 1 0.551 165
4 SEA 69 59 0 0.539 179
5 BAL 77 51 0 0.602 180
6 KAN 56 72 0 0.438 180
7 ATL 74 54 0 0.578 183
8 SDG 67 61 0 0.523 188
9 HOU 65 63 0 0.508 188
10 MIA 60 68 0 0.469 192
11 CAR 69 58 1 0.543 193
12 NOR 77 51 0 0.602 197
13 IND 79 49 0 0.617 197
14 PIT 82 46 0 0.641 199
15 STL 39 88 1 0.309 200
16 MIN 64 63 1 0.504 204
17 CIN 70 56 2 0.555 206
18 DAL 66 62 0 0.516 210
19 TEN 54 74 0 0.422 211
20 JAX 39 89 0 0.305 211
21 DEN 78 50 0 0.609 211
22 WAS 49 79 0 0.383 213
23 CLE 37 91 0 0.289 213
24 CHI 64 64 0 0.500 218
25 OAK 44 84 0 0.344 222
26 TAM 45 83 0 0.352 224
27 NYG 67 61 0 0.523 224
28 DET 47 81 0 0.367 229
29 NYJ 65 63 0 0.508 230
30 BUF 52 76 0 0.406 232
31 PHI 69 58 1 0.543 235
32 ARI 71 57 0 0.555 239



Bill Huber is publisher of 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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.


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