Stats & Storylines in 2019

The 2019 Packers have made some dramatic improvements over the 2018 team. Here are some numbers to punctuate those improvements. 

A little over the halfway mark of the 2019 season, there are plenty of statistics and storylines to reflect on (hence the title). For starters, and perhaps most importantly, the Packers currently sit atop the NFC North at 8-2, with a 3-0 division record. What’s more, Green Bay is also sitting as the second seed in the NFC, with an opportunity to move into first place in the NFC with a win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football.

How did the Packers get to that point? Well, with plenty of big-time moments in big-time games. Week 1 against the Chicago Bears, then-newly acquired safety Adrian Amos made a game-sealing interception in the red zone, giving the Packers a 1-0 record and new head coach Matt LaFleur his first win. 

Next week at home against the Vikings, cornerback Kevin King snagged another interception in the red zone, and the Packers climbed to 2-0 on the season, and more importantly, 2-0 in the division. 

Where am I going with all of this? Well. It’s a testament to how different this 2019 team is compared to the 2018 squad. The 2018 defense had a total of seven interceptions on the season, with five of those seven interceptions coming from players who are no longer in Green Bay (Ha Ha Clinton-Dix with three and Bashaud Breeland with two). Already in 2019, through only 10 games, the Packers have a total of nine interceptions on the season, contributed by seven different players. The team is on pace for 18 interceptions on the season, which would more than double the 2018 total. 

Sticking with the defense, last year, the Packers were led by Kyler Fackrell who had 10.5 sacks on the season. The second highest total on the team belonged to Kenny Clark (yes, a defensive lineman), with six. In 2019, the two free agent edge rusher acquisitions, Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith, have already combined for 18.5 sacks on the season. And, if we want to take this a step further and count QB hits, the Packers are on pace for a whopping 20 more quarterback hits in 2019 (94) than the team had in 2018 (74). Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine has repeatedly emphasized creating pressure for opposing quarterbacks, and so far in 2019, his team has done just that. 

The defense has adopted a “D Train” moniker, and with good reason. The unit continues to chug along each week, and the Packers have a plus-nine turnover differential on the season. In 2018, the Packers finished the season at exactly zero, yes zero, in turnover differential. Protecting the football has been another emphasis for this team, and that’s evident throughout the first 10 games of the season. Per the team’s dope sheet, the Packers haven’t turned the ball over in four straight games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that ties the 2014 and 2016 seasons for most consecutive games without a turnover by Green Bay since 1933, the first year turnovers were tracked. Additionally, Green Bay hasn’t fumbled the football in four consecutive games, which the team hasn’t done since the 1967 season (good year).

The Packers are making strides on offense, too, with the team’s running attack perhaps the most improved facet of the offense in 2019. Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams have already combined for 20 touchdowns this season, with 12 rushing and eight receiving scores in 2019. For context, the Packers team total is 30 touchdowns through 10 games, so the dynamic duo of Jones and Williams have contributed 66% of Packers touchdowns so far in 2019. 

Something else the 2019 Packers offense is emphasizing? Keeping Aaron Rodgers upright. Granted, almost all of his 2018 season was played on a bad knee, Rodgers still took 49 sacks on the year. In 2019, Rodgers is on pace for only 35, just a few sacks above two per game. General Manager Brian Gutekunst used both free agency (Billy Turner) and a second-round draft pick (Elgton Jenkins) to fix the guard positions and shore up the offensive line. So far through 10 games, those investments have paid dividends. 

One last statistic to note before Sunday’s matchup? Well, the Packers are currently the only team in the NFL to be undefeated (4-0) against teams with winning records. The Packers are finding ways to win close games, something the team was unable to do in 2018 with a 6-9-1 record. Six of Green Bay’s losses in 2018 came in one-score games. In 2019, the Packers are finding ways to win those close games, with five of the team’s eight 2019 victories coming by one score. 

The 2019 Green Bay Packers are a solid football team, and they’ve learned from the 2018 season. This one on Sunday is for first place in the NFC. 

 

Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and a podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

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Comments (32)

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Hematite's picture

November 22, 2019 at 05:28 am

Packers 37
49ers 31.
The defense bends but doesn't break.

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Turophile's picture

November 22, 2019 at 05:34 am

New GM last year, new head coach, offensive coordinator and many new position coaches this year. New scheme and playbook, new attitude to acquiring veteran free agents (youngish high earners).

All that newness and a good winning streak makes this season very different from the last few. I'm not much of a betting man, but I felt the vibe before the season started, and put a bet on the Packers for the Superbowl this year (and I haven't done that for many years). Exciting times to be a Packer fan.

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MarkinMadison's picture

November 22, 2019 at 05:59 am

Still looking to see if this defense can look dominant again when Savage is healthy. The offense still hasn't really found itself quite yet. But yeah, #12 is staying a lot cleaner, and that is huge. The defense is getting more pressure, and that is huge. One stat I see every once in a while: number of starts missed by preferred starters. I bet that stat looks FAR better for the Packers in 2019 than 2018, and far worse for the Bears.

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ShooterMcGee's picture

November 22, 2019 at 06:16 am

1 area of regression or at least no improvement has been special teams. Our returners may be the worst in football and the coverage teams have been atrocious. This has not cost us a game yet but it may, probably in the playoffs when teams are more evenly matched. It seems that special teams was completely ignored in this past draft and free agency. How is it we cannot have 1 competent kick and punt returner on the team?

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PackfanNY's picture

November 22, 2019 at 07:18 am

I completely agree that special teams has not really improved this season. Not sure it’s about the kick and punt returners per se. Packers never seem to create any seems on returns yet other teams always look like they are just about to break free down the field. Either way, the Coach and ST coordinator are both in year one but they need to figure something out in the short term. Hopefully this is one of the things ML was looking at after the break. Not much can be done personnel wise now but in the off-season it clearly needs some attention.

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Sol's picture

November 22, 2019 at 11:39 am

I agree 100%

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ShooterMcGee's picture

November 22, 2019 at 04:17 pm

You may be right about it being the blocking or scheme instead of the returners, however, a good returner can occasionally break a big 1. Our punt returners have negative yards (which might be historically bad) and I do not recall a kick return beyond the 25 yard line. It's so bad that other teams have been kicking it short knowing it wouldn't be returned to the 25. When I watch our returns as long as we don't fumble it's a win.

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DavidMichalski's picture

November 22, 2019 at 07:33 am

But it swung the momentum in the Eagle loss, the Packers were rolling and let Miles Sanders break a big return. They started out pretty good but it’s been pretty bad ever since. Definitely still very excited and will be enjoying every game this season.

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Sol's picture

November 22, 2019 at 11:45 am

I remember our guy getting bear hugged in the end zone late in the game and it changed the outcome with the interception that it caused. Not complaining it's just the way some football games go. But your totally right about that big return.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

November 22, 2019 at 11:00 am

Gute did spend a 5th (punter) and a 7th (Bradley) on STs. Crosby has been excellent (92% on field goals and no missed PATs), even if his lack of leg strength on kickoffs (which several of us pointed out) has been a problem. Overall, keeping Crosby seems the correct decision. Scott was going gangbusters but doesn't seem to like cold weather much. Still, GB got something of a 2nd-year jump from him. Bradley improved this year.

I wrote a bunch of comments suggesting that Trevor Davis is a really good Punt Returner and gunner, and would be missed if he didn't make the team. Reaction was mostly negative to retaining Davis. I do admit that I approved of taking a 6th round pick for him since he'd be an UFA in 2020. He is missed, though.

So, that leaves coaching. Murphy/Bell cheaped out on Rizzo and signed a nobody. There is little doubt in my mind that the athleticism of the special teams players is better this year. LaFluer wanted Rizzo, and we got Mennenga to save a few hundred thousand in non-cap dollars. Head coaches should be able to select their coordinators: shame on Murphy/Bell.

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ShooterMcGee's picture

November 22, 2019 at 04:02 pm

Thats great info about the coaching. I didn't know about Rizzo, thanks.

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Swisch's picture

November 22, 2019 at 04:08 pm

At least in retrospect, the trade of Trevor Davis looks terrible.
I didn't object at the time, though, perhaps because I thought Darrius Shepherd could step in to return kicks right away.
At the time, it would seem fair to think the Packers had a good replacement for Davis, who now seems like a key piece missing on a team trying for a special season.
Let's hope that overall the Packers emphasize special teams in a big way, starting right now with any improvements that are possible.

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ShooterMcGee's picture

November 22, 2019 at 04:37 pm

The Saints signed an UDFA out of Assumption college named Deontea Harris. Kid is electric. Has 2 punt return touchdowns and is 3rd in league average. They say he is a "touchdown waiting to happen." Obviously we could have pursued him especially since we had such a huge need. But who knew? The guy is 5'6" and 170 pounds. Just another reason besides Taysom Hill to watch the Saints and feel envy.

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jannes bjornson's picture

November 22, 2019 at 06:25 pm

Touche'

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Sol's picture

November 22, 2019 at 11:58 am

I am sure that will be remedied next year and is already being looked into. I am pretty sure coaches salaries don't count against the cap and there is no reason to go cheapo. Like GM says leave no stone unturned when looking to improve our team.

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Sol's picture

November 22, 2019 at 11:50 am

The way it looks now I am sure the coaching situation will be remedied this off season. Pretty sure coaches don't count against the salary cap. No reason to go cheapo

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jannes bjornson's picture

November 22, 2019 at 06:28 pm

Yes, russ low ball must be relieved of his duties.

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Bearmeat's picture

November 22, 2019 at 07:07 am

Has the defense been better than last year? Yeah. Is that a high bar to clear? No. Is the defense good at anything other than rushing the passer and stops in the red zone? No.

That doesn't mean we can't win on Sunday. There is no perfect team. But it is definitely unsettling that we have supposedly "fixed" the personnel on defense, and we still have a subpar unit.

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flackcatcher's picture

November 22, 2019 at 08:43 am

This defense is better than last years by simply being healthy. I forgot who mentioned it up thread, but having your preferred starters on the field is a huge improvement over the horror show of the last two years. But it's worth pointing out how thin both units are. There are not replacements for Martinez nor Clarke, of course the Smiths are at this next to impossible to pull out in Pettine's defense. And without Campbell, Pettine can not play the shifting formations he likes to employ. On the other side they have no replacements for either guard with the loss of Taylor, and we all knows what happens if Rodgers goes down. Rebuilding depth takes time, and a good deal of luck, something this team been short of until this season. All of this is reflective in special teams play. The quality of a teams depth shows up in both punt and kick returns for this Packer team. (Ugh) All we fans can do, is hope the God of Injury stays away for the rest of this season and into the playoffs.

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Bearmeat's picture

November 22, 2019 at 11:01 am

True on all fronts.

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ALLGASNOBRAKES's picture

November 22, 2019 at 07:11 am

Personally, I'm REALLY hoping during the Bye Rodgers did a lot of self-scouting. I'm not bashing Rodgers here so please don't get that twisted. What I'm saying (Yes again) is Rodgers HAS to incorporate the GB offense between weeks 5-8 in with Adams and less of his MM roots.

IMO when Rodgers starts holding the ball forever bypassing open underneath receivers, chucking passes 40 yards downfield several times a game and almost every 3rd & 8 for example, this offense almost certainly will stall. I think the 13 years Rodgers spent in McCarthy's system still rears its head at times. Now that's not always bad, but when other options are right there for the taking then TAKE THEM! Rodgers is one of the smartest QB's the NFL has ever had. Hopefully, he's smart enough to see the 400 yards and 30 points a game WITHOUT Adams could actually be better. Not just that either...It would actually open up some of those 40 yard passes later in games.

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ShooterMcGee's picture

November 22, 2019 at 03:56 pm

I think you hit the nail on the head and it will be the key in the 49ers game. If Rodgers can throw quickly to his 1st or even 2nd read it can negate the pass rush. Our offense seems to click when this happens. However, if he holds the ball too long we are in trouble. Their defense is too good to be beat by improvisation.

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Handsback's picture

November 22, 2019 at 08:08 am

The defense has gotten much better verses the few years. The stats may not show it but the wins do. Now the concerns are many and represent the same deficiencies of years past; like busted plays, allowing quick TDs, having the opponent control the clock by running the ball. In a way, this game doesn't allow any excuses for Green Bay to lose, everyone healthy, bye week, and a match-up of strength verses strength. This should be a great game to watch. I see the Packers winning by a TD, but having to stop the 49ers last drive to win it.

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Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

November 22, 2019 at 08:33 am

I agree with you Handsback that the D looks completely different—in a good way. Think Bearmeat’s assessment is off above. The past few years in those close games I was just hoping that the other teams would just hurry up and score so that we could get the ball back to AR at the end. Now I am wondering who’s going to make the big play to seal the victory. Plenty of daggers to go around this year.

That being said, I think IT IS TIME for a comfortable victory...maybe 31-20 with no drama.

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mrj007's picture

November 22, 2019 at 08:59 am

SF has #2 Defense and GB #28. And while GB record is great- its an aberration aided greatly by 5 home games and a number of questionable penalties going their way (at least enough fire a casual observer to notice). Sacks and interceptions are like home runs in baseball, but total Defense is like batting average and over time, teams total defense rating is a more accurate representation of what you see watching the game. I would favor a run first attack with short rhythmic passing against SF. GB won’t be able to stop SF and will need to get lucky with penalties and turnovers going their way to win

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Jonathan Spader's picture

November 22, 2019 at 12:04 pm

SF had had a far easier schedule than GB which has been pointed out multiple times. So for your aberration aided look no further than strength of competition for SF.

As for the questionable calls the refs giveth the refs taketh away. Questionable calls cost the Packers the Eagles loss. Clear pass interference wasted a challenge by the Packers and was still deemes not PI costing the Packers a time out. Final play of the game clear PI wasn't called or reviewed. For the Lions game Flowers was called more than once for illegal use of hands. I don't agree with the call but he's partially to blame.

You don't get lucky with turnovers you force them. Garoppolo does tend to force throws and interceptions are there for the taking. It'd be nice to see Alexander finally get an interception instead of dropping the ball.

Bottom line should be a hell of a game.

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Since'61's picture

November 22, 2019 at 09:50 am

I would like to see the stats comparing this years defense versus 2018 on 3rd down. That's the key stat for the defense getting off the field. Comparing TOP also tells about how well the defense is improving at getting off the field.

This season's defense has been making stops when they need to, especially in the 4th quarter when the Packers are protecting a lead. That is a key factor regardless of the yardage rankings. To me the defense needs to return to its level of tackling we observed early in the season when the tackling looked improved over the last few seasons. It may be that the bye week will help the tackling improve. If we tackle solidly and everything remains equal we can beat the 49ers.

Special Teams are a concern but it shouldn't be this hard. I can live with the poor returns as long as we don't fumble the ball. However our coverage teams need to play better both in terms of staying in their lanes and making tackles. We give away too much field position and put the defense in tough spots unnecessarily.

This week is a big opportunity for MLF to show how well he comes off a bye week against a well coached opponent on the road.
Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

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jannes bjornson's picture

November 22, 2019 at 06:35 pm

Special teams is attitude. Bring up another Lb from the p squad to replace Madison.

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Tarynfor12's picture

November 22, 2019 at 10:46 am

The Packers are better than what we've had to endure the last few seasons as a whole and the easiest way to defend such is the record after 10 games.

The defense has gotten a jolt via the Smith's pass rush which had been a disaster. However,the defense still plays poorly overall but good enough to not grab defeat from the jaws of victory as had been another flaw of past seasons.

The offense is still struggles at times and the reasons are more than one or two which can be overcome but 3+ can look like a mountain. The OL is not consistent, the WR group has at times looks amateurish,the TE position is still a major issue, the run game can be explosive and squashed and Rodgers still holds the ball too long and the 3rd and 1-3 bombs are still predictable and team building decisions as like vs Car need to curbed.

The health of the team has been a yearly mantra as defense to the teams bad play but that cannot be used this season and certainly not this week against SF, who are according to the HC,will have 8 starters as game time decisions.

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stockholder's picture

November 22, 2019 at 11:34 am

I don't like stats. It's praising the past, instead of making improvements for the future. They sure don't help tune anything. They can stop you from trying new. STATS really can divide a team. Like fine wine, shouldn’t the PACKERS get better with age? I’m not trying to put this team on the rocks. Or, one that is never satisfied. But we still see a soft middle. Reckless play. And question Rodgers judgements. Consistency is what makes a team unstoppable. They aren't. Improvement will always take you to the super-bowl. If this team doesn’t improve, they will be reading their own obituary. What I’m saying is don’t be satisfied. Keep pandora's box shut!

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Jonathan Spader's picture

November 22, 2019 at 03:04 pm

96.3% of people hate statistics. 89% of statistics are made up. There are lies, damn lies, and statistics.

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Swisch's picture

November 22, 2019 at 11:46 am

I'm hoping our standout quarterback takes a pride in craftsmanship in honing the short and intermediate game for the offense during the upcoming games -- mixing up the run and pass, gaining precision on pre-snap motions, executing play fakes, using various areas of the field, getting different guys involved -- keeping the defense guessing.
Then breaking out the long pass at just the right times.
One idea is that on third down and more than fifteen yards, take a chance on a deep throw once in a while -- because an interception forty yards down the field is about the same as a punt. Have a couple of guys trailing the deep receiver by about twenty yards to make the tackle if there is an interception.
I love the occasional long strikes, but what's more important is to move the chains. I hate it when opposing teams convert third downs on our defense; so I'm guessing it really hurts when we do it to them.
May the great Aaron Rodgers end his career over the next few seasons with a flourish of artistry in choreographing an offense that is a joy to behold, and devastatingly diverse to exasperated defenses.

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