But the Packers have fumbled their efforts in creating fumbles. In fact, over the past seven years, the Packers have recovered just 55 fumbles … that ties them with the Jacksonville Jaguars for the league’s fewest. Compare that with what the Bears‘ have forced during that same time period (107) and the Packers should be feeling a bit sheepish about their aggressiveness.
Maybe this could be one of the reasons the Packers have been known across the league as a “soft” team.
Contrary to that notion, however, is the fact that the Packers have gotten to the quarterback at a high rate the past few years and one would think that when defenses get to the quarterback that the numbers of fumbles would coincide. But not in the Packers’ case.
And that’s why the Packers coaching staff is focusing on forcing and going after the ball – being aggressive when it hits the ground.
Here’s what Capers recently told Jason Wilde of ESPN:
“You see us going to the ball with a little more intensity, you see everybody poking at the ball, trying to get the ball out. We’re just trying to get them conditioned mentally. You see us every time the ball is on the ground, you see someone scooping it. We’re treating it like it’s [a live ball] just to condition everybody to get to that ball, scoop the ball and to try to get the mentality of taking the ball away. In four years, we’re No. 1 in interceptions but we aren’t close in caused and recovered fumbles.”
Last year when the Packers focused their defense on tackling, the effort was, for the most part, successful, though one might look to the games against the Vikings and 49ers late in the season and wonder if the early season focus had worn off.
This effort to go after the football, to punch the football from the hands and arms of opponents is a good thing and something that should give the Packers an edge from time-to-time in 2013. Our hope is that the coaches and players don’t forget about the tackling as well. We’ve all seen players go for the strip, bounce off and watch in horror as the offensive player runs for mega-yards after the missed tackle.
That’s not what we want to see in 2013. Capers, who is coaching from the hot seat at this point in the early season, has got to find ways to make his defense effective and aggressive. Giving up 579 yards to an offense – 181 on the ground to the quarterback – isn’t going to cut it. The Packers have to come out fast this season. They have got to stop the run, they have to get after the quarterback and they have to compete for every pass. The soft coverage and watching players in front easily catch the ball and then running untouched for 20 more yards has got to stop.
Maybe this newest effort to force fumbles will also play into a strategy that utilizes the athletic abilities of the players on the field to line up and beat the players across from them.
If the Packers are going to shed the label of “soft” they’ve got to get after the opponent. That means every play is contested and every ball is up for grabs.
If the Packers tackle, play fundamental football and defeat the man across the line of scrimmage, the fumbles will come their way.