Since the start of 2009, a timeline corresponding with Dom Capers’ run as the Packers’ defensive coordinator, Green Bay ranks second in the NFL with a plus-81 turnover margin.
Still, for the Packers to return to their status as major championship contenders this season, they’ll have to get back to their turnover-producing ways.
Last season, the Packers were tied for 10th with a plus-5 in turnovers. That’s solid but it wasn’t good enough to mask the flaws on both sides of the ball.
When the Packers have been legit Super Bowl contenders, they dominated the turnover table. In 2009, when Green Bay went 7-1 during the second half of the season, it was plus-24 in turnovers. In 2010, when Green Bay won the Super Bowl, it was plus-10. In 2011, when the Packers stormed through the regular season with a 15-1 record, they again were plus-24 in turnovers. In 2012, the Packers were plus-7; in 2013, when quarterback Aaron Rodgers missed half the season, they were minus-3. In 2014, when the Packers did everything but win the NFC Championship Game, they were plus-14.
Other than 2013, when the Packers suffered through half a season of bad quarterback play, they’ve been consistently frugal with their giveaways. It’s been takeaways that have plotted the team’s course. Green Bay had 40 takeaways in 2009, 32 in 2010 and 38 in 2011 — a total of 110 for an average of 36.7. During the past four seasons, Green Bay has 94 takeaways for an average of 23.5, with its best season of the bunch coming in 2014, when it forced 27 turnovers. Cornerbacks Sam Shields, Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins could form a ball-hawking trio, but only Shields has proven production.
Capturing the giveaway-takeaway battle has been a staple of coach Mike McCarthy’s winning regime. Going back to 2006, his first season as coach, the Packers are a whopping plus-92 in turnovers. New England leads the way at plus-129; no other team is better than plus-36.
Not surprisingly, the turnover results show up on game days. Since 2006, the Packers are 74-10-1 when winning the turnover battle, an overwhelming .876 winning percentage. Last season, the Packers went 8-2 when winning the turnover battle, 2-1 when breaking even and 0-3 when coming out on the wrong side of the ledger.
The chart, put together from data at Pro Football Reference, shows the expected correlation between winning and turnovers. Results are from the start of the 2009 season.
Turnover margin since 2009
Bill Huber is publisher of 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 www.twitter.com/PackerReport.