Penalties Put Packers in Bad Positions

The numbers are ugly, even though coach Mike McCarthy decided not to push the envelope with the replacements. We go beyond the basics to tell you one area the Packers must improve upon if they're going to get back on track.

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy had a choice to make.

Play aggressively to take advantage of the replacement officials, or play within the rules so as not to fall into bad habits that would hurt the team once the real officials returned.

McCarthy chose the latter.

"We had conversations about approaching the game differently as far as the rules, pushing the envelope, being aggressive," McCarthy said on Thursday. "We chose not to (push the envelope). We felt it was important to continue to work at playing the game the right way with the fundamentals and technique and the approach to the rules. We'll continue to take the same approach."

The decision didn't pay many dividends. Not only are the Packers 1-2, but they've been slapped with 24 accepted penalties. Not only does that include 10-penalty games against San Francisco and Seattle, but it includes four for unnecessary roughness (26th in league) and three for defensive pass interference (25th). Compare that to last season, when the Packers were guilty of just three unnecessary roughness penalties (second in the league) and four defensive pass interference penalties (first).

Offensively, the Packers have five stalled drives because of penalties, a stat defined by the league as no points scored on the drive and no first downs after the infraction. Last year, there were just 13 stalled drives. Defensively, they've given away eight first downs compared to 16 last season.

Only five teams have been guilty of more penalties. That stands in stark contrast to last season, when the Packers tied Indianapolis with a league-low 76 accepted penalties. This year, the Packers are minus-9 yards in penalties. Last year, they were plus-357.

With the return of the real refs, the Packers will have some familiarity with the men in stripes.

"We're really focused on improving ourselves," McCarthy said. "I never really have. I can't really be concerned about where the officials are coming out of their training camp. We do have their history with our officiating crews. We'll look at that history like we do every week, and that will be part of our mind-set going in. It still doesn't change the way we approach the game."

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at

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