Back to basics

A fundamentally sound professional football team, the 1-4 Packers are not.

Following a day off, the players reconvened Tuesday for the first of three straight practice days during the bye week. The workouts Tuesday and Wednesday were earmarked for review of the two most recent games with a heavy emphasis on getting back to the basics.

"Those are the root of our improvements and the root of our corrections is fundamentals," head coach Mike McCarthy said. "It's always the little stuff. You can go through every position, every phase of the game, and there's just little things that we need to continue to work on. We're getting better in a lot of them ... most of them, actually. But, there's still some things we need to get cleaned up and continue to work."

Prominent on the weeding-out list is shoring up the communication breakdowns and misalignments on defense that have engendered a slew of big pass plays for the opposition each and every week so far. The Packers have allowed an astounding 35 completions of at least 16 yards, which the coaching staff chalks up as explosive plays.

It's also incumbent on defensive coordinator Bob Sanders during the week off to get the substitution signals straight with players between plays. Three times incredibly in the 23-20 loss to St. Louis on Sunday, the defense had either 12 or 10 players on the field.

"It's like most anything - football, life, it's all about communication," McCarthy said. "There's nothing wrong with the structure, but we need to get it fixed because it's been a reoccurring problem.

"We reviewed it (Monday) in (the coaches') meeting and will apply more of an emphasis on it in the practice environment, in the classroom environment to make sure we get it fixed because it's a reoccurring problem."

The offense hasn't been beyond reproach, either.

There's been at least one fumble by a running back in the last four games. Vernand Morency, who again started in the absence of an injured Ahman Green, was benched early Sunday after he had a costly miscue for the second straight game.

The offensive line is coming off its first solid complete game run blocking, but it's not where it needs to be in the zone-blocking system. What's more, a blown protection by rookie Tony Moll, who stepped in for an ailing Jason Spitz at right guard, resulted in a last-minute fumble by Brett Favre that prevented the Packers from getting a potential score-tying field goal or a game-winning touchdown Sunday.


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