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Packers Secondary Not Pressing Despite NFC-Low Two Interceptions

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Packers Secondary Not Pressing Despite NFC-Low Two Interceptions

Green Bay Packers cornerback Tramon Williams. Photo by Corey Behnke of CheeseheadTV.com.

The Green Bay Packers have intercepted an NFC-low two interceptions this season, part of the reason they're an uncharacteristic negative-three in turnover differential this season. Only the New York Jets have intercepted fewer passes among all NFL teams.

Despite the low interception output, cornerback Tramon Williams isn't concerned. He knows the Packers defense has played well this season, regardless.

"The turnovers and things will come," said Williams. "It's one of those things where we'd rather be playing better team defense, like we're doing right now. The interceptions, the fumbles, they'll come, and once they come, they usually come in bunches. So we don't have a problem with that right now."

It's true. The Packers have been playing good defense this season, particularly against the run, where they rank third in the league giving up only 78.2 yards per game and a mere 3.4 yards per carry.

But they haven't been quite as good against the pass, ranking near the bottom of the NFL, 28th to be exact, giving up 293.6 yards per game.

If only they could grab a few more interceptions, it stands to reason that those passing yards would go down.

The question to ask at this point in time, however, is why have the Packers grabbed so few interceptions this season? After all, this is a team that's grabbed them at a break-neck pace the past couple of years.

Since 2011, the Packers have racked up 51 interceptions, which ranks second  in the league in that timespan, behind only the Chicago Bears' 53.

To take it a step further, their 127 interceptions from 2008 to 2011 were the most in a four-year span by any team since the AFL-NFL merger.

Correspondingly, the Packers' record is predictably good when they're snatching away passes from their opponents and expectedly poor when they're not.

During the Mike McCarthy era in Green Bay, for example, the Packers are just 8-19 (.296) when they don't intercept a single pass in a game, but they're 25-4 (.862) when they take away two, 11-3 (.786) when they grab three and a perfect 7-0 (1.000) when they steal four or more.

One of the obvious reasons the Packers haven't grabbed many interceptions this year has been the absence of cornerback Casey Hayward, who has yet to play this year as he nurses a hamstring injury aggravated during the preseason.

When he comes back back, Hayward is hoping to pick up where he left off last season when his six interceptions ranked fifth in the NFL and tops among rookies.

"I only can go about the things I can control," said Hayward. "I can't control I got injured. But when I come back, I'm going to try to do the best I can, get back into the same form I was, on that same level. If I can get back to that and help this team out, I'll be happy."

Hayward has been a limited participant in practice both Wednesday and Thursday this week, but at least it's the first time he's practiced the first two days of the week yet this season. His status for Sunday remains up in the air, but the Packers could definitely use his service, especially considering all the injuries they've suffered elsewhere on the roster.

"It definitely helps us out a lot," Williams said of Hayward. "Obviously the depth we have at this position, it helps that out, plus the injuries that we have on defense. It helps us out with that too and gives us a little more flexibility to run some different packages. I'm definitely looking forward to him coming back."

Once Hayward comes back, the secondary will be able to settle into more comfortable roles. While Hayward has been out, Williams has had to defend the slot on occasion, a position he's rarely played.

Maybe with Hayward's presence, the Packers will be able to improve upon the two interceptions they've come up with this year, cornerback Sam Shields and linebacker Mike Neal the only recipients.

The Packers have done a good job creating turnover via fumble this season, forcing eight and recovering four. Now they just have to grab more interceptions to get back to a level they've become accustomed to in previous seasons.

Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email carriveau@uwalumni.com.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (11) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

CDog's picture

I will assume this streak will end once Brandon Weeden throws the ball.

jeremy's picture

Followed by whoever the Vikings have scraped off the street and Cutler...

TommyG's picture

and by then we will all be singing praises of our secondary just before Vick and the Beagles gouge us for 500 yards passing.

Sven's picture

If Hayward can come back this week, I expect that will be a big help for the pass rush. The Packers have not give quarterbacks many places to throw the ball, and the Ravens games was down right impressive. with Hayward covering the slot it may take even longer for QBs to find a receiver and more time for these young pass rushers to get home.

Cleveland will be tough to over come with all the injuries, but the Packers will win, by over coming adversity.

66paperboy's picture

Don't get too excited about Hayward's initial return. He'll need a few weeks to knock the rust off. The feel of the game has to return. My real concern is the DB's incessant looking in the backfield at the quarterback while a receiver blows by them. The corners and safeties are both guilty. Yes' our DB's have speed to close but chasing two yards off instead of being on the receiver's hip is one the reasons why they're giving up catches/yards.
Go Pack!

Stroh's picture

In the Packers scheme the Safeties are in essentially a 2 deep safety look most of the time, while the CB play primarily man underneath and on the sidelines. The Safeties by nature of the scheme are in a zone defense. In a zone D the safeties are SUPPOSED to be looking into the backfield. The QB gives cues as to where recievers are and when the QB is about to throw the safeties can break on the ball.

Apparently you don't understand the role of the safeties.

The CB's while mostly in man don't play man exclusively. Most plays they are in man, but sometimes they also play zone and when they are in zone they are again, like the Safeties, SUPPOSED to keep an eye on the QB so they can break on the ball.

If you understood these facts you would be able to figure out when they are in man and when they are in zone! These are really basic themes of coverages that you should really know.

barutanseijin's picture

It would be entirely possible to disagree with someone & to contribute what you know without calling the other person an idiot.

Personal foul, roughing the poster. 15 yard penalty, rewrite the post.

dawg's picture

+100

dawg's picture

He can't help it, best to ignore!

hayward4president's picture

We could have 3 ints....if House could catch.

DraftHobbyist's picture

For me, it is surprising that the Packers have so few INT's but also very understandable when you really think about it.

Going back to 2010, Tramon Williams grabbed a bunch, 12 to be exact (and 3 more in the postseason), but he hurt himself and hasn't been the same since. Charles Woodson was responsible for 10 from 2010-2012 and is no longer on the team. Casey Hayward had 6 last year and hasn't played this year. Nick Collins had 4 (plus 1 in the postseason) in 2010 as no longer on the team.

We've also had problems with our S's, and when you have problems with your S's your CB's have to play safer so it's harder for them to get INT's. Shields had 9 (plus 4 in the postseason) from 2010-2012 and now has 1 this year. I think the team playing safer defense has contributed to his drop in INT production.

The good news is that Burnett came back, House is stepping up, and Hayward is about to come back. That should help. Then when we get Matthews and Perry back for that pass rush to created bad throws I think we'll see a spike late in the season when we need them most.

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