Many people have wondered why the Packers have gotten off to a mediocre start after six games.
A manageable early schedule should’ve afforded the Packers a 5-1 record, but instead Green Bay is treading water in the very tight NFC at 3-2-1.
It’s not for a lack of talent because we have all seen the playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. The defense isn’t as talented but judging from Kevin King’s interception vs. San Francisco, it has players that can step up in big spots.
The reason the Packers are in a quagmire is because they aren’t disciplined. They have the second-most penalties in the league. The only team in front of them is Pittsburgh and that’s no surprise given how much of a soap opera the Steelers locker room has become.
But it’s not just the run-of-the-mill holding or false start. It’s the face mask, taunting and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties that really hurt teams. Those fouls are discipline issues and must be stopped.
A key example is cornerback Tony Brown. Undrafted free agents are usually pretty expendable, so after he got a taunting penalty at Detroit two weeks ago, I thought the Packers would surely let him go. Obviously, coach Mike McCarthy thought otherwise and Brown doubled down from his performance at Ford Field with another 15-yard penalty, this time being flagged for unnecessary roughness vs. San Francisco. I thought the Packers would definitely let Brown go after that one, but McCarthy held firm and said, “Tony will definitely learn from that one.”
At this point, McCarthy needs to send a message to the rest of his team that they need to clean it up. Cutting Brown would’ve made the rest of the locker room take notice and it would’ve sent a clear message that McCarthy means business this year.
After taking in Rodgers’ outburst and seeing the Packers routinely play undisciplined and sloppy football, that’s a stain on McCarthy’s coaching. By and large, this is a young football team that is still learning on the job. He may not like being the disciplinarian, but sometimes that’s the only medicine.
This team has the tools to win the NFC North and advance to the NFC Championship Game. But those things will only happen if the Packers play tighter and start holding each other accountable.
There’s a reason the Patriots are dead last in penalties and have zero face mask fouls. It’s because Bill Belichick knows that those little yellow flags cost teams yards, first downs and ultimately games. There’s no reason to throw games away just because you cannot be smart enough not to taunt someone.
Those are things that must be taught and if a player doesn’t receive it, that player cannot remain on the team because he will ultimately be an example for poor behavior.
McCarthy has a choice: Continue the status quo or start teaching accountability.