Green Bay Packers clamp down on penalties
The Green Bay Packers have been one of the most ill-disciplined and penalty prone teams in recent years, something Coach Mike McCarthy has been trying to turn around for a while now. Things got particularly bad for the Packers
earlier in the season when they drew 18 penalties in one game against the Chicago Bears, but then something happened that turned the team on its head.
By the end of the regular season the Packers had incurred a total of 78 penalties, which ties them for the third most disciplined team in the league. The turnaround is shocking to say the least and Coach Mike McCarthy doesn’t
want to take the credit for it.
“We've taken a different path this year,” McCarthy said. “They've had a lot of adversity, and they've done a really good job of buckling down on the discipline penalties.” They didn’t really have an option. The fact of the matter
is that the Green Bay Packers could have defeated the Bears in week 3 of the regular season. More than anything else, the reason they lost the game was because of the countless flags that were thrown on the field. Had the Packers continued playing the way
they did against the Bears, they would have been knocked out by now instead of preparing for their show down with the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional playoffs.
The Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin said that Green Bay had started working on their penalties in the off-season, but it was only after the disaster against Chicago that the Packers really turned things around.
Their new found discipline will serve them well at Georgia Dome this Saturday. While the Packers share third place with three other teams, the Falcons are unquestionably the most disciplined team in the NFL. In the regular season
they conceded just 58 penalties. The Dolphins were a distant second with 72 penalties.
“We've emphasised special teams penalties because they're spot fouls, and even though they may only be a five or a 10-yard penalty, they're spot fouls and they're very penal,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. He added that the
Falcons had also focused on fourth quarter penalties. Smith noted that 51 percent of the games played this season were decided by eight points or less, and that 25 percent came down to just 3 points or less. “I think it's very important that you don't have
critical penalties in the fourth quarter,” Smith said.
Packers Coach McCarthy finds himself impressed with Atlanta’s discipline. He said, “It's just not one phase or two phases. They are a football team that really stays on schedule as far as what they try to do and how they do
it. They are very fundamentally sound.” McCarthy added that he appreciated the way Smith had coached the team and it showed in the analysis of the team’s games.
For years McCarthy’s Packers were among the most penalised teams in the league. Last year Green Bay was handed 118 penalties; the worst in the league. The Packers’ offensive coordinator explained to the players in simple
terms that moving forward and scoring is more difficult if they keep going backwards due to penalties. His team has finally started to pay attention.
The Packers’ offence incurred 13 fewer penalties this season than they did in 2009. The improvement in the defence accounted for 15 fewer penalties than last year. The Packers also improved on special team plays. Their special
teams gave away 12 fewer penalties this season.
The Packers special teams’ coordinator Shawn Slocum said, “When we began back in the spring, that was something that we identified that we needed to change. We put the process in motion, and I think we've seen the results of
In last week’s victory over the Philadelphia Eagles - the first play-off win for quarterback Aaron Rodgers - the Packers were penalised just two times. Philbin said “I think we made a bigger emphasis. I know we did offensively.
I know Coach did as a team. I think we probably made more of a point of it, and the guys responded.”