Both defenses were healthy and played pretty solid. I think that's why it was a pretty low scoring game. Again it came down to who was going to take care of the football and make the least amount of mistakes. Well guess who won the battle? The Packers and Eagles both had their share of penalties, seven by each team. The big difference was the fumbles and interceptions.
I don't need to go into detail about my thoughts regarding turnovers. Since I've been writing this column all I‘ve talked about is turnovers. Any team that turns the ball over consistently will more than likely finish somewhere at the bottom of their division. A NFL fact, the team that leads the league in the giveaway/takeaway column usually ends up in the playoffs, and the eventual winner ends up in the Super Bowl. Why? Because when you turn the football over you take away opportunities to score points, and that gives the other teams offense more opportunities to score.
As I watch the tape of the game it just seems like neither team could get anything going. Once they did, they would do something to negate the momentum and keep the other team in the game. I tried to find something positive in the game to really keep the readers excited, but there just wasn't much of anything. I started to say how Samkon Gado looked so promising. How Gado had rushed for over 100 yards in the first half, but then he reverted back to his regular self. His fourth fumble in the last three games. It really looks like Samkon is playing scared. Scared to make a mistake. If you're playing with fear, then you can't be playing with any fun or joy. This game is meant to be fun. Because it is just that, a game.
What I've seen lately are Packer players playing in fear. The fear that if they make a mistake the coach is going to yank them from the game and put them on the bench. Remember what I talked about last week? How would the players and coaches treat this week of preparation? Were they going to come out focused and ready? The answer in my opinion is that they came out nervous and scared, and with very good reason. Some of the players and coaches are playing for the jobs, which is really too bad.
I really believe Coach Mike Sherman has done a great job keeping this team together. You look on television and around the league and other teams are losing, too. Those teams want to take their team's issues and make it league news. That's not what teams/families do. Elsewhere in the NFL, there are players talking negative about their teammates, saying how so and so got the head coach fired … whatever it may be. Not the Packers. They have stayed together through a very tough situation. Losing in Green Bay isn't easy. The players have played hard and have stayed focused every week. They have shown nothing but class, and that's an attribute to Coach Sherman and the control he has on this team. The Packers players have excellent character.
Right now the Packers just don't have the players they've had in the past. Without the dominant players this team is used to having, if you're going to continue to make mistakes and turn the football over it becomes very hard to win any games.
Can the situation change? You bet it can! For all those people out there bashing the Packers, it will get better. The players cannot play in fear. They need to go out there and have some fun and let the chips fall where the may. You got nothing to lose, but your job.
When you talk about a team that plays defense, you've got to talk about the Chicago Bears. I had a chance to see them play and I am totally impressed. They look like the Bears from the 1985 team that won the Super Bowl. Just enough offense to win games and a defense that gives them plenty of opportunities.
The key to their defense is the fact that their defensive line, namely Adewale Ogunleye and Alex Brown can get to the quarterback. The Bears don't have to bring extra pressure with linebackers or defensive backs. Their defensive line is awesome; it is a force. Their four-man pressure allows the Bears to play a variety of defenses and drop a lot of defenders into pass coverage. If they can force a team to be one-dimensional by getting an early lead, they become very hard to beat.
The Packers need to go out and have some fun. Prepare a great game plan and execute it. I've been saying the same things every week. It just happens to be the recipe for success. Stop turning the football over and eliminate the penalties.
Don't play in fear. Put in a few trick plays, give some other players an opportunity, and see what happens. This might just be our week to get back on track.
Former safety Ken Stills played for the Green Bay Packers from 1985-89. He is currently an assistant coach with the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe.