GreenBay Packer Nation

Interactive O/U: Bring Back the Takeaways

The Packers recorded 24 interceptions in the regular season of 2010. They recorded eight in the post-season, partly because they had so many games to play. We all know how that season ended…that’s the one we want to repeat. In 2011, the Packers picked off opposing quarterbacks 31 times and despite the quick and disappointing exit from the playoffs, that is a substantial number. Since 2011, the highest INT total for the Packers in the regular season has been 18 (2012, 2014) with only 11 in 2013. The Packers presumably should have moved on to another Super Bowl in 2014 in a game where the Packers defensively abused the Seahawks until the very last few minutes of the game and then (in a remarkably familiar way to the Cardinals game last year) lost in overtime. Two names are highly involved in the INT scenario. One when it was high, and one more who has stepped onto the stage and stepped up in big games, but needs to take yet another step. 

The Packers had a great run of intercepts that ran concurrent with Charles Woodson at the cornerback position. The major players during that run were Woodson, Williams and Shields. Now with Woodson and Williams gone, the Packers need a young corner to step up. They have a bevy of young talent and I have confidence that solid play is in our future, but one question remains. Will the Packers defense be a ball-hawking defense in 2016?

Everybody knows that the Packers defense held the line in 2015, and it is unfortunate that the team’s season ended with a single, embarrassing defensive series. If the Packers defense can find a way to get back to the 20+ interception range, with Clay back on the outside…they could be special. And I personally think a key player in that is not a cornerback replacement for Charles Woodson at all (can anyone replace Wood?), but he is the guy who wears Woodson’s old number. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

Ha Ha has been as advertised since Ted Thompson drafted him in the first round in 2014. But what I love about Ha Ha (and yes, I am biased as a once-long-ago-safety) is his performance in the NFC Championship game against the Seahawks two years back. Ha Ha had 2 interceptions and recorded five tackles and was a big part of the Packers being the better team in that game despite the final score. From the free safety position, Ha Ha will once again roam the deep, and in 2016, I hope he takes yet another step. Of course, a big part of that will be whether or not the Packers’ D-line gets pressure on the quarterback so we shall see.

To me, the Packers last season were good enough to win the North (even though we faltered in week 17) but not good enough to be the better team against the better playoff teams. Upping the interception total in the regular season to over twenty, and coming on strong in the post-season, could be just the ticket. And with Aaron Rodgers having a full complement of offensive weapons this time around…that could make all the difference.

The Packers have a tougher schedule than the win to loss ratio of the opponents they face would indicate. However, they will face many young quarterbacks, a Teddy Bridgewater who has yet to show he can make the big throws under pressure (see week 17 last year) and a Matt Stafford that has no Megatron. This could be a recipe for big interception totals which, in turn, means a high percentage of wins. And interceptions tend to come in spurts so if the Packers get on a roll at the right time, it could be important for more than just taking back the North.

But what do you think PackerNation? Can the Packers get their interception numbers up in 2016? Make your opinion known in the over/under poll below: