Opportunistic Packers looking to rattle Teddy

The Packers are tied for third in interceptions. Julius Peppers called them opportunistic, but the circumstances help Green Bay’s defense.

There have been times this season where Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has had troubles turning the ball over. In seven games played, he has thrown six interceptions, and there have been two games – against Detroit and Buffalo – where he threw more than one interception.

Although Bridgewater has done better of late – minus a down-the-field pass last week that he thought he had to take because time was running out – Green Bay is one of the best defenses in the NFL at taking the ball away.

So far this season the Packers have been able to pick off opponents 14 different times – tied for third in the NFL – and have intercepted their opponents twice or more on five separate occasions this year. Julius Peppers, a linebacker on the Green Bay Packers who currently has two interceptions this year, says that there is not anything specific that the team does to create the turnovers, other than being in the right place at the right time.

“Just being opportunistic,” Peppers said. “Guys being in the right place at the right time and making the plays when it’s time to make them. That’s pretty much it. We’ve had some forced fumbles where we’ve been able to have guys in the area and scoop them, and when the ball’s been thrown our way we’ve been able to get our hands on it and bring it in.”

Although Peppers makes it sound like the Packers have just been lucky so far this season in their ability to create turnovers, there is more to it than just that. They consistently put themselves in a good position to create these turnovers.

The Packers will often take early leads against their opponents, which causes the opposition to pass more in hopes of being able to catch up. When that happens, the Packers know what is coming and are able to play the pass, thus giving themselves a better chance at creating an interception.

You would think that an opportunistic defense like that one would look forward to playing a young quarterback and getting a chance to capitalize on “rookie mistakes.” Peppers, however, says that is not the case.

“We go out and try to apply pressure to any quarterback, regardless of years played, regardless of experience,” Peppers said. “We go out and try to apply pressure and apply it early so it doesn’t matter who it is or how old he is. That’s the game plan every week.”

That constant pressure is another way the Packers have been able to help themselves when it comes to creating turnovers. Quarterbacks that are being pressured and hit constantly can get anxious in the pocket and want to get rid of the ball earlier than they are supposed to. That can lead to defenders jumping a route, a move they might not have been able to make if the ball was thrown when it was supposed to be.

If the Vikings hope to win the game this Sunday, it could come down to how well Bridgewater protects the ball. Will he be the cool, calm and collected quarterback that is able to lead his team down the field? Or will he be the over-anxious quarterback that threw three interceptions in his game against Detroit? Either way, the Packers defense will be looking to disrupt him, and force him to make bad decisions.

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