'Stupid Mistakes' Still Prevalent

Since becoming head coach of the Green Bay Packers, Mike Sherman has not quite had a visible outburst during a game like he did Saturday night against the Miami Dolphins.

After defensive back Tod McBride was called for a personal foul late in the third quarter, he was pulled from the game and chewed out vehemently on the sideline by Sherman. McBride would not return for the remainder of the game.

The mental mistake by McBride, and several other penalties, missed tackles, and fumbles against the Dolphins, diminished the happy outcome for the Packers, a 17-12 comeback victory on a rainy evening at Lambeau Field.

Sherman said following the game that his team has a "case of stupidness" that it has to work out which is overshadowing certain bright spots. He assessed where he believes his team is at with one preseason game to go, while addressing the media shortly after the game.

"We need to correct our mistakes," said Sherman. "I thought we played a very good first quarter against a very good football team. We were 10-0 at the quarter... We talked long and hard about eliminating stupid mistakes, and we played mistake-free for the most part for that first quarter. That was very pleasing." "We preceded to do some very unacceptable things in the second quarter. We made a mental mistake on a route, we dropped a couple balls, we had penalties, and senseless penalties to say the least."

By all public accounts, Sherman has a mild-mannered temperament and is a positive man. He was brought in last year by former general manager Ron Wolf, however, to provide discipline and direction for a team lacking those qualities. He corrected many problems a year ago and will have the same challenge headed into the regular season this year.

Among several sore spots against Miami were three penalties on a second quarter drive which buried the Packers offense deep in its own territory. Guard Marco Rivera was called for consecutive penalties for illegal use of hands and a false start, netting a loss of 15 yards. Three plays later, tackle Chad Clifton was called for a false start, leading to a third-and-28 situation.

Sherman also pointed out that fullback Matt Snider was called for a costly illegal block in the back on a kickoff return, also in the second quarter. The penalty forced the Packers to start their drive at their own 7-yard line. They eventually would have to punt, setting up the Dolphins' with good field position.

Through three preseason games the Packers have committed 27 penalties.

The Packers also lost a fumbled snap on a exchange from center Frank Winters and quarterback Doug Pederson early in the fourth quarter and dropped at least three passes. Brett Favre was just 7 of 19 for 92 yards with one touchdown and one interception in nearly three quarters of action.

Though the defense has given up only two touchdowns in three preseason games, it was not without its share of problems as well. "I think we've got to tackle better, that was one of the things," said defensive tackle Jim Flanigan. "I thought we played pretty well in the first quarter, and in the second quarter, there was a little bit of a letdown, and they had some big plays on us."

One of the big plays was a 20-yard run by Dolphins' running back Lamar Smith to end the first quarter. The Packers had him in the backfield for a loss but could not bring him down. Smith escaped to his left, reversed field back to the right, and made several tacklers miss en route to a great run. It eventually set up the Dolphins' first score of the night, a 29-yard field goal by Olindo Mare to cut the lead to 10-3.

The most obvious of the mistakes, however, was McBride's personal foul. He became entangled while blocking downfield with Dolphins' receiver David Foye on the play prior, to the point where a referee had to intervene. The feud between the two players continued on the next play when McBride was hit with the infraction. McBride pleaded with the referee before being pulled from the game.

"The personal foul was totally ridiculous," said Sherman, "and we're just not going to tolerate that."

"What he did... he was stupid," said Sherman. To the Packers' credit, the ugliness that occurred after the first quarter did not affect their confidence on a 95-yard, game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. Quite possibly Sherman and his team can take that and other things from the game, but they still know they have some problems to correct before Sept. 9.

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