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Packers tied with Cardinals for NFL lead in sacks

Oct. 30, 2012
 
Green Bay Packers Clay Matthews (52) and Erik Walden (93) sack Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler Sept. 13 at Lambeau Field. Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette
Green Bay Packers Clay Matthews (52) and Erik Walden (93) sack Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler Sept. 13 at Lambeau Field. Evan Siegle/Press-Gazette

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The Packers are tied with the Arizona Cardinals for the NFL lead in sacks this season.

After eight games, the Packers have collected 26 sacks. Last year in 16 regular-season games, the Packers produced just 29 sacks.

"I think we’ve made significant improvement," said Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers. "That was kind of the thing last year was we were having a hard time getting pressure on the quarterback. I think through the first half of the season, I think there’s been a significant improvement. I mean, obviously, if we’re No. 1 in the league in sacks."

No one is confusing the Packers with great pass rushing teams of the past. They haven't been anointed with a catchy nickname just yet, such as the Fearsome Foursome or the Purple People Eaters or the Steel Curtain.

Nevertheless, Capers likes what he has seen out of his pass rush. (And if this keeps up, maybe the time will come to trot out the "Gang Green" nickname for his defensive unit).

"If you look at the game (Sunday), we only had two sacks but I bet you can count eight or 10 times where we had a guy running free at the quarterback and he just got the ball out of his hands. We pressured a lot (Sunday) and that was part of the plan. We were so close many times and the ball came out.

"You saw Clay (Matthews) two or three times, he hit the quarterback in the back and the ball came out. To me, if you’re getting close and you get that kind of pressure – I’ve said this in the past that the sacks and those things will come because that quarterback’s got to make a decision. He’s either going to throw that ball sooner than he wants to or he’s going to take a sack."

Brad Jones and Morgan Burnett picked up sacks against the Jaguars. Matthews is second in the league with nine sacks, which is three more than he had all of last season. But sacks aren't the only measure of a good pass rush.

"We started the game with a sack – Brad Jones’ sack – and we started the second half, the second play, with Morgan Burnett’s sack," said Capers. "In between there, Clay had an awful lot of good rushes and we had a number of guys with free runs at the quarterback and he was just getting rid of the ball. The next-to-last series, you saw where we missed a couple of tackles over there because he was dumping the ball outside because we had a guy running at him and he just dumped the ball over their head."

The Packers are on pace to collect 52 sacks this season, which would be their highest total since 2001. Here are the Packers' sack totals in recent seasons:

2011: 29 sacks

2010: 47

2009: 37

2008: 27

2007: 36

2006: 46

2005: 35

2004: 40

2003: 34

2002: 43

2001: 52

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