The Most Important Number For The Packers In 2010
The difference between success and failure for the Packers in 2010 will come down to one number. It's not the number of sacks, either for or against. It's not the number of touchdown throws from Aaron Rodgers or rushing yards for Ryan Grant.
It's turnover margin.
The Packers forced a league high 40 turnovers in 2009 while giving it away a league low 16 times. That produces a turnover margin of +24 which was far and away the league's best. Despite the deficiencies in the secondary and the occasional lack of quarterback pressure the Packers intercepted opposing quarterbacks 30 times. That number is so high the Packers aren't likely to duplicate it. The last time a team recorded that many interceptions was the 2007 San Diego Chargers. Since the 2002 realignment teams have intercepted 30 or more passes only four times. So that gives you an idea of how difficult it is to force that many turnovers.
Meanwhile, Aaron Rodgers was only intercepted seven times. A lot of talk last year was about Rodgers and did he hold the ball too long, leading to a high number of sacks. To be sure Rodgers is far less likely to force it into coverage the way Brett Favre did. So the trade off is more sacks but less turnovers. Ultimately it comes down to field position in that category. The Packers fumbled it away eight times last season, tied for fifth lowest in the league. There were fumbles in the preseason, probably more than coach Mike McCarthy would've like to see. If the Packers can protect the football in the same manner there's no question with that offense Green Bay should score a ton of points.
The real key goes back to the defensive side. You sense the Packers will need a bend-but-don't-break philosophy. Points and yardage will be given up but when stops need to be made the Packers must rely on forcing turnovers. If the Packers want to take the next step they must be as protective of the ball as they were in 2009.