GREEN BAY – It’s time.
Mike McCarthy has been harping for weeks about the Packers getting their turnover differential heading the other direction.
Dom Capers has often preached that turnovers “come in bunches.”
The Houston Texans are tied for 26th in the league with 19 giveaways on the season, and their quarterback, Brock Osweiler, is tied for the most interceptions with 13.
All of that points to this – if the Packers are to get back to being a team that wins the turnover battle decisively on a regular basis, a staple of McCarthy’s success over his decade-plus in charge, it has to start this week.
“We’ve certainly gone through some stretches where we haven’t gotten them,” Capers said. “It’s kind of like sacks. You go through two, three games, you don’t get much done, and then all of a sudden …”
A month ago, it appeared the Packers might be on the right track, when safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix intercepted two passes in the first quarter against the Colts. “A bunch” was coming, right?
Not exactly. The Packers then went 13 quarters of football, all the way until the opening possession of the second half last Monday in Philadelphia, without a takeaway.
Clinton-Dix got the defense off the schneid with an interception of Carson Wentz that helped Green Bay, leading 14-10 at that moment, finally end its four-game losing streak.
“Ha’s interception Monday night came at the right time,” Capers said. “They were starting to move the ball into our territory. Those kind of things change games around.”
The defense needs to start doing it more often, and if there’s any such thing as momentum in the turnover department, Sunday’s game against the Texans might be the Packers’ best chance to establish it.
Houston’s minus-9 turnover differential is by far the worst of any current division leader. Not only has Osweiler thrown a baker’s dozen of picks, he also has fumbled five times (though losing only one).
Don’t think the Packers haven’t noticed.
“The opportunities are going to be there,” cornerback Quinten Rollins said. “We just have to take advantage of the position that we’re in. Hopefully we’ll get an opportunity to make some plays and he’ll give us a chance to get the ball.
“I think he threw three (interceptions) last week, so he’s definitely going to come in and try to tighten that down.”
Along the same lines, the Packers hope last week’s pass rush was a sign of more to come. The defense recorded four sacks in Philly, Green Bay’s most in a game since Week 5.
Also, it wasn’t necessarily an accident that one play before Wentz badly overthrew his tight end on the ball Clinton-Dix picked off, he had been leveled by Datone Jones just as he released a pass.
More often than not, it all works together.
“If you can get pressure on him, disrupt his rhythm …” Capers said. “Those three, four plays, whether it’s sacking the quarterback and turning it into a longer-yardage situation, or coming up with the ball and taking a possession or two away from a team, we’re hoping we’re trending the right way with that.”
If the Packers are going to make a serious run here, they have to be.