If turnovers are contagious, the Green Bay Packers defense is finally catching the fever

Kassidy Hill
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
View Comments

GREEN BAY − Are turnovers contagious? 

“I hope so,” Green Bay Packers safety Adrian Amos said, laughing. “We started getting them, we started doing things well.” 

The numbers seem to back up Amos. Through the Packers first nine games, in which they went 3-6, the defense accumulated a mere five interceptions. In the past six games, during which the they have gone 4-2, the defense has nabbed nine interceptions. Their 14 is tied for fifth in the league. 

It’s something those in the Packers locker room had been promising for weeks, but had been yet to deliver. When they come, they’ll come in bunches, those in the secondary kept saying. Finally, against Dallas, the dam broke and it had everything to do with the levee being breached up front. 

“The D-linemen getting after them quarterbacks,” cornerback Jaire Alexander said Thursday. “They been making it happen up front. We been making it happen in the back.” 

In the first nine games, the front seven totaled 44 quarterback hurries, an average of 4.8 per game. In the past six games, that number has jumped to 5.3 per game (32 total). With the pass rush applying more pressure, it’s forced pockets to collapse and routes to break down, and it's pushed quarterbacks into ill-advised throws and decisions. An aggressive approach in the front has allowed those in the back to feast. 

"I think we’re getting more aggressive,” corner Rasul Douglas said. "We’re communicating more, we’re playing the way we’re supposed to play. "

Green Bay Packers cornerback Rasul Douglas celebrates after making an interception against Miami.

No one has benefited more than Douglas. Since the Week 8 loss at the Buffalo Bills, Douglas has four interceptions. They’ve all come in the fourth quarter. Since the beginning of the 2021 season, Douglas has had six interceptions in the fourth quarter, which, according to ESPN Stats and Info, leads the league over that time. 

“I think I be close in the first three quarters and then in the fourth quarter I just finally get one,” Douglas said. “I always think I can make a play and I know I’m gonna make a play eventually and sometimes it just happens in the fourth quarter.”

Against both the Los Angeles Rams and Miami Dolphins, those fourth-quarter Douglas interceptions effectively put a cap on, or at least greatly contributed, to a Packers win. 

“Usually when people turn the ball over, you score points,” Douglas said, "and they're behind so they got to do a little bit extra to try to get back. So you get one, you get another." 

But it’s not just Douglas who is capitalizing. Against the Dolphins, the Packers got interceptions on three straight drives in the fourth quarter, shutting down any hope Miami had of taking the lead. Douglas, Alexander and linebacker De’Vondre Campbell all accounted for those turnovers. 

More:Packers rookie Devonte Wyatt, finally getting a chance, can't wait to show what he's learned

Silverstein: Packers haven't figured out how to replace Davante Adams' red zone dominance

“I think it’s a by-product of everything,” coach Matt LaFleur said Monday of the increased interceptions. From contain the quarterback leading to opportunities, to disguising looks, to being where the ball will be, the Packers did a little bit of everything to bait Tua Tagovailoa into turnovers, LaFleur said. 

“I know on Jaire’s,” LaFleur said, "we got a nice little re-route on the intended receiver and he just kind of overthrew the receiver. Then on Rasul, I thought he did a nice job. We were in a Cover 2 look and he re-routed the under route and I think Tua thought he was gonna stay on it and he hinged and got the easy pick. 

“Dre’s, he just did a great job of reading the quarterback. And we knew that Tua was gonna be a guy that throws with a lot of anticipation. As a matter of fact, if you go back and hit pause when he’s throwing some of those balls, some of those explosion plays especially, the one to (Jaylen) Waddle, it’s amazing how well he can anticipate. But it also, at times, can hurt you if guys are ... do something that you’re not expecting them to do.” 

On Sunday, in what essentially amounts to a playoff game, the Packers will attempt to keep this turnover streak going against Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota Vikings. Cousins is tied for seventh in the league (along with Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes) with 11 interceptions. He has thrown only three in the Vikings' past six games. 

But turnovers can be contagious, and the Packers defense feels like it's finally where it needs to be.  

Said Amos, “We’ve had good pressure on quarterbacks. We’ve been in the right spot the last couple of weeks and the turnovers have come, so hopefully they keep pouring in.”

View Comments