3. Win turnover margin/create turnovers
The 2011 Packers defense was very similar to the painful-to-watch defenses of recent years, except for in one area, creating turnovers. This is something that a Dom Capers defense prides itself on, except for recently, it hasn’t been happening.
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In 2011, the defense gave up a league-worst 6,585 yards, 4,796 yards of which were via the pass, which was…you guessed it, worst in the league as well. They also managed to finish tied for second-worst in the league in defensive penalties, giving up a whopping 948 yards just off penalties alone. They struggled big time getting after the quarterback as well, finishing last in the league in sack percentage, at a lowly 4.4 percent.
Which begs the question, how in the heck does a team go 15-1 in the regular season with a defense like that?
The answer is having the league’s best turnover-creating defense. The Packers defense tied for first in the league with 38 turnovers created, with an insane 31 interceptions. The defense finished first in the league in percentage of drives resulting in a turnover, which was 20.2 percent of drives. It certainly helped having Charles Woodson, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields starting at cornerback.
With a plus-24 turnover differential, this defense was able to stay in the top 15 in the league in points against, even while giving up so much yardage. When you mix that with an offense that is averaging 35 points per game, that makes for a pretty good formula for winning football games.
Time will tell how successful this year’s young defensive backfield will be at creating turnovers, but we do know the secondary must improve from recent years in order for this team to play at an elite level. An emphasis on playmakers on the defensive side of the ball was apparent during the 2018 draft, when the Packers selected selected Jaire Alexander (Louisville) in the first round, followed by Josh Jackson (Iowa) in the second round, both premier talents at the college level in terms of ball skills.
Similar to the 2011 team, the current defense lacks quality depth when it comes to edge rushers. With some younger, inexperienced corners, the pass rush will have to get after the quarterback better than they have the past few seasons.