Vince Lombardi: “What the Hell is going on out here? Grab! Grab! Grab!
It doesn’t take a genius to see what’s going on in today’s National Football League – it’s an alarming rise in the lack of fundamentals being executed on the field, especially in the area of tackling. It’s fast becoming the namby-pamby league.
Yesterday’s pathetic attempt by the Green Bay Packers in the defending of their goal in front of a national television audience was nothing short of shocking, but it’s something that all Packers fans have been watching for weeks – and something that seems to have been coming for the past few years.
You can’t blame it on the injury to Aaron Rodgers, you can’t necessarily blame it on the injuries along the Packers defensive front because we all know that the “next man up” mantra means that there shouldn’t be any drop-off in the performance of the reserves.
It might be somewhat of a stretch because there’s no hard evidence in front of me, but I’m looking all the way back to the signing of the latest collective bargaining agreement and the new practice rules established through that document. Limiting the number of practices, especially the number of padded practices cuts down on the number of days when players can hit one another, when they can tackle one another. We have to ask the question – is it having an effect on the quality of fundamentally sound football players on the field?
You bet it is. If you don’t practice your craft every day, you won’t improve. If you don’t home in on the skills you need to sharpen, they get dull.
The Packers are as dull as dull gets at this point.
Consider these words written July 23, 2011, by profootballtalk.com’s Mike Florio – just days after the signing of the CBA:
This specific point was raised with us earlier in the hour by a source who agreed with Friday’s reduced-contact source, who said after the Atlanta labor seminar, “The only thing the players didn’t get is someone else to play for them.”
For the sake of Packers fans reading this, we’ll consider what we’ve seen the past few years in the tackling department.
ProFootballFocus.com has nailed it with these statistics:
Packers’ missed tackles by season:
|* Through 12 games |
The pattern here is clear. The Packers’ inability to tackle this season is alarming and on par with the 2011 15-1 season when Aaron Rodgers carried a defense-less team until they got exposed by the Kansas City Chiefs near the end of that year and were one-and-done when they got to the playoffs.
Yesterday’s embarrassing and humiliating performance was something fans have been harping about for weeks, something that Mike McCarthy has said will be “corrected” with each and every week – but nothing ever seems to happen.
According to Rob Demovsky of ESPN, the Packers “average … 7.9 missed tackles per game on defense, … and are on pace for 126 for the season. With an average of 1.7 missed tackles on special teams, they are on pace for 27.”
Is it any wonder why the Packers are 5-6-1? Those numbers are record-setting.
It’s because this team is soft – once again.
This is the same team that was in the top two or three of the league in rushing defense the first half of the season. What the hell has happened? Is it coaching? Is it fear that someone may get hurt in practice? Is it all on the players who seem to be playing without a sense of urgency? Is it that the number of tackling drills in practice, especially in training camp, have gone by the wayside?
How is it that this team gave up a total of 474 yards rushing through the first six games and then laid down to give up 473 over a two-game span – to the Vikings and Lion?!? These are good rushing teams, but this is not Green Bay Packers football. This is not the team that won a Super Bowl only a few years ago, the team that has dominated the tough NFC North Division the past few years, the team that, when they hit the field, always have a chance to win.
They have become the Detroit Lions of years past … a team that consistently gets outmuscled, outcoached and outscored.
If the Packers continue to play this way, they may as well mail it in and start playing for a decent draft pick. Maybe they can find someone who actually knows how to tackle.
We have to continue to be the Vince Lombardis of the world. We have to keep asking what the hell is going on and hold Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy, all the coaches and every player accountable. When advertisers start walking away from this game because it’s turning into something that’s no more exciting than a game of tiddly winks, then this league is in big trouble. At this pace, that’s not far away.
Right now the Green Bay Packers are among a slew of teams across the league with 5 or 6 wins. This is not parity, this is mediocrity. It’s bad football … it’s bad FOR football. I’m not saying we want to go back to the days when Dallas and San Francisco dominated, but there’s got to be a swing back toward excellence.
Right now, we getting a very bad brand of football.
What’s the answer? I’m not sure, but somebody with the wherewithal and influence needs to start looking closely at the cause.
The Packers have been the epitome of this downturn, but it’s an infection that’s coursing its way across the league.