GREEN BAY — When the Green Bay Packers forced at least one turnover during Matt LaFleur’s coaching tenure, they almost always won the game.
The problem is that they haven’t produced enough bullpen this season and are off to their worst five-game start since LaFleur’s arrival in 2019. The Packers (3-2) will try to correct that problem on Sunday when they host the New York Jets (3-2).
“They’re going to come in droves,” safety Adrian Amos said. “And they will come soon.”
The Packers have been able to take the ball away and protect it on offense since LaFleur arrived as coach in 2019. Packers plus-32 margin from 2019-21. they led all NFL teams during that span.
Green Bay owns a 37-1 regular season record under LaFleur when producing at least one takeaway, the exception coming in 34-31 overtime loss at Indianapolis 2020. The Packers intercepted Tom Brady three times when they lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game to close out their 2020 season.
The Packers are 30-0 when they have produced more plays than their opponent in regular season games LaFleur has coached.
But the Packers have committed more turnovers (seven) than they have forced (four) so far this season. Their minus-3 turnover margin ranks 28th out of 32 NFL teams, ahead of only the Los Angeles Rams, Indianapolis, Washington and New Orleans.
“We know that’s an important part of this game, and when you’re down 3 for the year, it’s not good,” LaFleur said. “We haven’t won the turnover battle in any of these games yet.”
Part of the problem is that the Packers don’t take care of the ball like they normally do.
Green Bay’s 37 turnovers in 2019-21 matched the New England Patriots from 2015-17, the lowest total in any three seasons in NFL history. The Packers had 13 each in 2019 and 2021, and just 11 in 2020. Their seven turnovers this year have allowed them nearly 24 in a 17-game season.
Aaron Rodgers was selected three times, one in a season last year when he threw 37 touchdown passes with just four interceptions to earn his second consecutive MVP award. The Packers also lost four tight ends, two from Rodgers and one each from Romeo Doubs and Aaron Jones.
The bigger problem is on the other side of the ball.
Only Las Vegas and Washington produced less takeout than Green Bay. Kansas City and Miami joined the Packers in just four turnovers.
“It gets pretty frustrating because we work so hard all week and in camp for those moments,” cornerback Jaire Alexander said. “When they weren’t here like they normally are, it’s a little frustrating.”
Last year, The Packers tied for eighth with 26 carries and were third in the league with a plus-13 turnover margin.
After throwing 18 interceptions to tie for sixth in the league last season, Green Bay’s defense has picked off one pass this season. It came from Alexander with just over two minutes left A 27-10 win over the Chicago Bears.
“We’re going to make our plays, I feel like any time,” safety Darnell Savage said. “It’s just one of those things. You just have to be patient, just do your job and your plays will come to you. We are not worried. I think we’re going to have a lot of turnover by the time it’s all said and done.”
Defensive coordinator Joe Barry says the Packers can’t simply rely on luck or cooperation against a mistake-prone offense.
“The offense isn’t just going to turn the ball over,” Barry said. “You have to create them. You have to physically take the ball. We have to keep chopping wood and they will come.”
And when they start coming, Barry believes they won’t stop.
“Entries happen in droves,” he said. “They really are. Every year I’ve ever been a part of a great takeaway year, which we did last year, they come in packs.”
NOTES: Rodgers practiced fully for the second straight day after missing Wednesday’s practice with an injured right thumb. … The Packers have ruled out WR Christian Watson (quadriceps) and OLB Tipa Galeai (hamstring) for Sunday’s game. … OLB Rashan Gary (toe) is questionable. Gary was a limited participant in Friday’s practice after sitting out Thursday’s practice.
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