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Cheese Curds, 9/2: Packers’ takeaways jumped in 2019, but there’s still room to grow

The Packers were among the league leaders in picks a year ago. However, the safeties — though they made some timely plays — were not big contributors to the total.

NFL: Washington Redskins at Green Bay Packers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

In 2019, the Green Bay Packers’ defense posted a solid bounce-back performance. With new players at several levels of the defense, the Packers rebounded from Mike Pettine’s rough first year as coordinator, dropping their points per game allowed from 25 (22nd in the NFL) to 19.6 (ninth).

One major reason for this change was an increase in turnovers. A unit that picked off just seven passes and caused only 15 total takeaways in 2018 leapt up to 17 and 25 a year ago. The 17 picks ranked the Packers in a tie for third in the NFL, while the total turnover number put them in eighth place.

The Packers have been among the league leaders in takeaways in most of their best seasons over the past few decades; they were in the top five in the NFL in turnover differential last year, as well as in 2014, 2011, 2010, and 2009, with first-place finishes in 2014, 2009, 2002(!), and 1996.

More turnovers always are a good thing. But expecting — or even hoping for — a team that was among the best in the NFL at picking off passes to improve in that area is unlikely. If anything, where the Packers can improve in the turnover department is on fumbles, where their eight takeaways put them in a tie for 21st.

A look at one key position group and their impact on the turnover battle leads off our curds this morning as we look ahead to Saturday’s cut-down deadline.

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