The Packers have turned the turnover tale on its head during their 7-game win streak. That’s been a storyline for weeks, but its dramatic impact has bears extra emphasis.
Before the run, Green Bay had a minus-6 margin (among the worst in the NFL) but since Thanksgiving the Packers have a +16 margin. That has been by far the league’s best margin in that span.
The offense has quit turning it over cold turkey, with only 1 giveaway in the last 7 games and ZERO turnovers in the last 5 games. It’s the first time the Packers have gone 5 straight games without a giveaway in franchise history.
“Well it is always an emphasis, it is just a matter of execution,” said quarterback Aaron Rodgers. “I have been one of the bigger violators over the first half of the season with interceptions and fumbles. The Houston game, that was our last turnover, when I fumbled in the red zone dropping the snap. We have been pretty solid taking care of the football. It is a concerted effort to tuck the ball away when you are carrying it, and have two hands on it when you’re in the pocket. And you can’t throw the ball to the other team.”
Against the Cowboys in October, the Packers reached an all-time low, turning it over 4 times. They lost by 2 scores after having a minus-2 turnover margin in the game.
But it’s not like the Cowboys are breaking records at taking the ball away. The Packers turnovers accounted for 20% of the Boys total takeaways all year.
“It changes the game,” said receiver Randall Cobb. “You don’t know what happens with those turnovers. I think they capitalized off of a couple of them. We always preach the importance of ball security and the turnover margin, so it definitely could’ve been a different game.”
While the offense was eliminating mistakes, the defense was going from famine to feast in the turnover department these last 7 weeks, with 17 takeaways.
“Turnovers are always a definite plus for defenses,” said linebacker Jake Ryan. “Creating turnovers each game is one thing we need to improve on and one thing we have actually been doing. Just doing that I think would be great for this defense.”
“The thing with turnovers is once you get a turnover they just start rolling in,” said rookie defensive lineman Kenny Clark. “That is one of the biggest things man. We are trying to pile up as many turnovers as we can. Once we get that one, everybody feels like that next one is going to come pretty soon.”
Clark grew up watching Julius Peppers, whose calling card has always been the strip sack. He had one in the playoffs against Dallas 2 years ago on the opening possession.
“Growing up that is all I used to see, and he is still the man at doing it,” Clark said. “He is a man about his technique and he comes out and plays hard every game.”
Peppers technique has rubbed off on his teammates, including Clay Matthews, who has 2 in the last 3 games and would love to introduce Dak Prescott to the intensity of playoff football.
“You know it is always kind of an awakening, whether that is for the best or the worst,” said linebacker Clay Matthews. “Everyone has to go through that. We will see what that means this Sunday, but ultimately the way you test his composure is stopping the run and getting after him, which is a lot easier said than done.”
This year Prescott had a magical rookie season, throwing for 23 scores and only 4 picks. His first actually came at Green Bay right after he set the record for most pass attempts to start a career without an interception. And wouldn’t you know it? Prescott fumbled twice in the game as well, losing one.
He’s been good, but the Packers proved he’s not infallible.