Two years ago, the Green Bay Packers’ cornerbacks were the proven quartet of Tramon Williams, Sam Shields, Casey Hayward and Davon House.
Only Shields remains, but the Packers are in good hands with Joe Whitt as the position coach.
Whitt was promoted to cornerbacks coach in 2009 as part of defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ first staff. The numbers his group has put up are staggering.
— The Packers have 83 interceptions from their cornerbacks. That’s 16 more than second-place New England, and only one other team (Chicago) has more than 60.
— The Packers’ interception count is at least double that of nine other teams, and more than Detroit and Minnesota combined.
— In Whitt’s seven seasons, Green Bay has six seasons of 10-plus interceptions. Only one team (Chicago) has even four seasons in double figures.
Regardless of personnel, Whitt’s crew has produced. From 2009 through 2011, with Charles Woodson dominating like few cover men in NFL history, the Packers received a league-high 41 interceptions from their corners. As expected, the big-play production has dipped without Woodson. Nonetheless, the Packers’ cornerbacks continued to deliver, with NFL-leading totals of 22 interceptions the last two years, 31 interceptions the last three years and 42 interceptions the last four years.
Last offseason, the Packers lost Williams and House in free agency. With first-round pick Damarious Randall emerging as a starter and second-round pick Quinten Rollins playing extensively down the stretch, Green Bay’s cornerbacks ranked third with 11 interceptions.
This offseason, the Packers lost Hayward in free agency. Randall again will start alongside Shields, and Rollins is the obvious front-runner to be the No. 3 cornerback. Another second-year player, former undrafted free agent LaDarius Gunter, is in line to earn playing time this season.
“Just like everybody, there’s a growth and development stage. Go from running the playbook to actually playing defensive football, which I think we started to get to at the end of the year,” Whitt said of the next step for Randall and Rollins. “But they have to have a true grasp of what we’re doing so they can show the quarterback what we want to show them and not just run plays and not just do what the defense says because Joe says do it — to understand why they’re doing it. Once you understand the ‘why,’ you can play much faster. So, that’s where we are right now – understanding every concept. Not just the calls that we call a lot but the calls that we call in special situations, so that they can execute those like the ones we call 10 to 12 guys a game.”
Interceptions by Corners: 2009-2015