Butler: Packers Have To Lower The Flags


You have to give the Jacksonville Jaguars credit for having the focus and toughness to come into Lambeau Field and get a victory. However, the Packers have now finished the regular season 4-4 at home, and that's unacceptable.

The Packers are going to have to cut down on their mistakes in all phases of the game - offense, defense and special teams - if they expect to be productive in their last two regular season games and in the playoffs. These mistakes that they're making can be fixed, and I know I sound like a broken record when I keep saying they're going to get fixed, but I think they will be.

I've been getting e-mail after e-mail about the penalties and other mistakes and I know that's what's hurting the Packers lately. I believe that the Packers are a very aggressive team, but that's been the cause of many of the flags that have been thrown against the defenders.

I thought the officials in Sunday's game were pretty inconsistent, though. It seemed like there were numerous occasions where Rashean Mathis of the Jaguars was interfering with receivers downfield but wasn't called for it. But that's apples and oranges - you've still got to win the games you're supposed to win, and Sunday was a game the Packers should have won.

One of my biggest concerns from the game was the offense's struggles in the red zone. The Packers have always been a great team down near the goal line, but that's where many mistakes happened against Jacksonville and really hurt the chances for a victory. A fumble in the red zone, two interceptions in the end zone, and a missed field goal all contributed to the Packers not winning this week.

Being able to keep the game that close after making all those mistakes - that shows just how good the Green Bay Packers potentially can be if they only cut down on their errors. The only team that I see getting in the way of the Green Bay Packers making a run is the Green Bay Packers.

As far as some positives from that game go, watching Javon Walker at work on Sunday was a thing of beauty. Seeing him work so hard and come up with all those catches cemented in my mind that he is definitely deserving of a Pro Bowl berth. He plays with a lot of toughness and runs very good routes. He's one of the elite receivers in the NFC.

Another highlight for the offense was the play of both guards. Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera really handled their business inside playing against one of the league's top defensive tackle combinations. Wahle and Rivera proved that they are deserving of joining Javon in the Pro Bowl and I think they should all make it there.

Those two will have to keep up their play this week in Minnesota as it's going to be critical for the Packers to get the running game going early and get Ahman Green off to a big day against the Vikings.

Defensively, I'm almost speechless because it seems like week after week, it's the same thing that keeps hurting the Packers. The holding penalties, the pass interference penalties, and poor tackling have been a problem.

If both of your safeties can play at a high level, you'll always be in position to win the game. That hasn't happened for the Packers lately. For example, on Fred Taylor's long touchdown run, the Packers used a six-man front and there were only five blockers. Someone should have been free to make the tackle, but Darren Sharper wasn't able to be in the right gap to make the play.

I was very disappointed in the play of the secondary Sunday. The Packers have got to take their game to the next level and quickly, because you don't want to go into the playoffs and be one-and-done. A lot of these mistakes can be corrected, and they have to be corrected.

I know everyone was disappointed with the outcome of Sunday's game, and so was I. I have to live among a lot of Jaguars fans in Jacksonville and I'm going to hear about that one for a while. But, if you look at the big picture, the Packers are in the playoffs and the NFC seems to be wide open.

It all starts this week against the Vikings. This is the time where the Packers have to hit their peak. Everyone has to step up this week and go into Minnesota and take the NFC North title away from the Vikings on their turf. If one thing can take the bad taste from Sunday out of everyone's mouths, it would be winning the division title this Friday in the Metrodome.

*LeRoy Butler played 12 seasons for the Green Bay Packers, helping them to two Super Bowls and earning NFL All-Decade Honors for the 1990s, before retiring in July 2002. This season Butler is again providing exclusive analysis to Packers.com beginning with training camp and later with a breakdown of the upcoming game on Saturdays, followed by a column and Q&A session on Tuesdays during the preseason and regular season.

Butler's autobiography, 'The LeRoy Butler Story ... From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap,' is available on his website, leroybutler36.com.*

LeRoy serves as the host on the new DVD, 'Brett Favre - On and Off the Field'. Click here for more information on the DVD.

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