Can The Green Bay Packers Play Penalty Free Football?

Don ZakCorrespondent IOctober 17, 2008

Why can’t the Green Bay Packers execute proper football this year?  After only six weeks, the Packers have accumulated the second most penalties in the NFL with 49 and lead the league with 464 penalty yards.  

At this pace we will have 131 penalties, average over eight per game thereby giving opponents 78 free yards per game and over 1237 yards total for the season.

McCarthy addressed reporters on Oct 5th stating: “Anytime something happens five weeks in a row, that's a problem, and penalties have definitely been a problem throughout these first five games.” 

Is averaging over eight penalties a game only a problem?  For me it’s more important than the lack of an established running game. 

Let’s review the penalty tally for the season so far: Minnesota—12, Detroit—eight, Cowbells —eight, Tampa Bay—seven, Atlanta—nine and Seattle—five. If each offense individually can be rationalized away and even accepted in some cases, why is there seemingly a lack of proper concern instilled in the players from week to week by the coaching staff?

Some penalties are inevitable, I can understand that.  For example, our style of Bump ‘N Run coverage defensive with Charles Woodson and Al Harris usually carries a one penalty per game allowance.  However, the Atlanta game was clearly lost by penalties. 

Following a Tauscher holding penalty, Matt Ryan & Co. received an early Christmas present from Pat Lee on a 20-yard penalty to set up an early 2nd quarter touchdown.  Even more critical was the holding call that negated a Mason Crosby field goal at the end of the 1st half.  With three points more, the Packers could have played from a tied position instead of being down three points to the Falcons at Lambeau.

Packer fans became accustomed to uncontrolled play from many players during the Mike Sherman era.  Remember Ahmad Carroll’s boxing glove wearing because he was unable to not hold a wide receiver, even in practice? 

With so many other problems to address, the team doesn’t need to keep shooting itself in the foot each week.  “It's about field position,” McCarthy continued. “It's about field position and playing with a favorable down and distance. For as productive as we were on offense, we were backed up a number of times.” 

The team’s back is already against the wall as it faces a difficult upcoming schedule of disciplined teams like Indy, Chicago, Tennessee and Minnesota.  With nothing there to support our backs, the Packers will 131 have penalties for 1237 yards, only a few shy of the Kansas City Chiefs record of 158 for 1302 yards set in 1998.