The Packers Have a Missed Tackle Crisis

What the hell's going on out here? Everybody grabbing out there. Nobody tackling. Just grabbing, everybody. Grab, grab, grab, nobody tackling.

After improving their tackling ability down the stretch run of the 2014 season, the Green Bay Packers' missed tackle bug reared its ugly head again during the season opener against the Chicago Bears.

 
Whatever language you speak, 10 missed tackles in a game played by professional defenders is unacceptable.
 
This seems like a yearly occurrence with the Packers. They start the season sloppy, give up chunks of yards, yield lots of points, and leave many plays on the field through missed tackles.
 
It's what we've come to expect from the Packers in recent years.
 
When asked about, Mike McCarthy himself acknowledged the recurring issue.
Sigh.
 
So, what's going on in Titletown?
 
Well, Vince knows. Let's ask him.
 

McCarthy's answer in his presser was very telling. He tipped his hand by saying that it wasn't a surprise, but it's not an excuse, either.
 
Why isn't it a surprise? If it's a known issue, why haven't they fixed it? Furthermore, if it's a known issue, why is he refusing to make excuses?
 
I think it has a lot to do with the modern NFL, specifically the new CBA and the high-priced contracts.
 
[Author's note: full disclosure, we briefly mentioned this last night on the Out of the Pocket Podcast, but I wanted to further flesh out the ideas here]. 
 
McCarthy was beating around the bush that new practicing restrictions in the 2011 CBA have limited the amount of live hitting the teams can have during training camp. Two-a-day practices are gone, the number of padded practices have been reduced, and the number of OTAs has been cut.
 
In other words, teams have to play themselves into hitting shape as the season goes and get their tackling practice and experience from within the games themselves.
 
Also, with players making millions of dollars per year, teams don't want to risk losing their starters to injuries in preseason games, so there's another severe reduction in live hitting practice.
 
It's not an excuse because that's the agreement that was collectively bargained. They're the rules that everyone must follow. 
 
Therefore, something has to give. In Packersland, it appears to be tackling.
 
This is clear from watching the Packers's defense improve throughout the season. It appears to be the new football world that we live in. We just have to accept that new CBA rules are the root of sloppy tackling and missed plays.
 
Or is it?
 
I was watching the Monday Night Football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Atlanta Falcons. Going into the game, I expected the Eagles to steamroll the Falcons in epic proportions.
 
After all, in 2014 the Falcons had the lowest ranked defense in the entire NFL.
 
However, something was different on Monday Night. The Falcons were hitting. They were physical.
 
More importantly, they weren't missing tackles.
 
Then, it dawned on me. Dan Quinn, their new head coach, was formerly the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, which have always been a good tackling team under Pete Carroll.
 
Quinn brought that style of defense and tackling technique to the Falcons, and it was evident during the first regular season.
 
Immediately apparent. 
 
What is this magical tackling ability he instilled in his new squad? Did he bring some nanobubbles in a mysterious tackling potion? 
 
It's not a secret, really. Everyone can learn it.
 
PETE CARROLL MADE A VIDEO OF IT THAT IS AVAILABLE TO THE WORLD ON YOUTUBE. [Yes, that all caps sentence was meant to be me yelling].
 

It's not sorcery or blackmagic. It's just good football.
 
Since I saw the Falcons tackle extremely well on Monday Night, and there's proof out there that NFL teams are still able to instruct and master tackling techniques under the rules in the new CBA, it's clear that something is broken in Green Bay.
 
I don't know what's broken. Is it the coaches? The players? The practicing schedule? The scheme?
 
Whatever it is, it must be fixed. It's an issue and has been a chronic problem.
 
I'll go as far to say it's a crisis because it can, and will, costs games down the stretch. It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of when.
 
With Marshawn Lynch coming to Lambeau in a few days, the Packers better be ready to tackle. The Seahawks will, that's for sure.
 
Let's hope the Packers get this tackling issue under control, and soon.
 
EDITOR'S NOTE: The same day Jay wrote this article, the Wall Street Journal had an article on the NFL and rugby tackling techniques. Here's the article: 
NFL Categories: 
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Comments (62)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
TommyG's picture

September 16, 2015 at 01:21 pm

That is a great instructional video! A few guys at my command are rugby players and they said this is the tackling they've been taught since they were kids.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

September 17, 2015 at 07:23 am

You said the keyword "taught", which also suggests practice. It's pretty clear that the Packers don't practice tackling in any manner that resembles sufficient. So, they suck at it. No suprises. They don't deserve to be any good at it and McCarthy being upset about it is actually rather false.

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lebowski's picture

September 16, 2015 at 01:26 pm

I honestly feel like screaming when watching these idiots grab at air and dive at feet with their heads down. Pathetic.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

September 16, 2015 at 06:14 pm

What irks me are the high tackle attempts. No matter how big or small the player is. That plays into the extra yardage players pick up against the Pack.

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dschwalm's picture

September 17, 2015 at 11:49 am

And I thought I was the only person in the free world who did that for the same reasons. It seems Packers always have tackling problems. Hmmmm, I wonder why that is.~~~~~~ Having coached football at the college level, I spent at least 50% of the practice time on form tackling in the first month of the season and because of that, we had a reputation of "sure tacklers".

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EdsLaces's picture

September 16, 2015 at 01:36 pm

The title of this made me lol

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Green Machine's picture

September 16, 2015 at 01:40 pm

As a fan of the Packers, watching that video is depressing.

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RCPackerFan's picture

September 16, 2015 at 02:10 pm

'As a fan of the Packers'

If this part is true. List 5 positive things about this 2015 team.

If your truly a Packer fan you should be able to list at least 5 positive things about this team without 1 negative comment.

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Green Machine's picture

September 16, 2015 at 03:05 pm

What about the Jaguars?
Would someone have to be able to list 5 positives about them in order to be a fan?

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RCPackerFan's picture

September 17, 2015 at 06:30 am

Ok, that actually made me laugh.

Can you list anything positive about the Packers?

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Archie's picture

September 16, 2015 at 05:14 pm

What? You can't be a Packer fan and be critical of the current product? I have been a fan since the late 50s and I think the current defense is horrible and has been for many years. The drafted players are bad and in many cases, the coaching of them is bad. Yet there is no better fan of the GBP than me. Go figure.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

September 16, 2015 at 06:17 pm

Damn! The 50's!? Just joking. I too, feel I am the biggest/best fan of the Packers.

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4thand1's picture

September 16, 2015 at 07:11 pm

Get in line behind me, I'm the biggest Packer fan EVER!

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Amanofthenorth's picture

September 17, 2015 at 04:38 am

Weight wise? That'd be some serious deep water you'd be swimming in if it were the case.

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Amanofthenorth's picture

September 17, 2015 at 04:40 am

.

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RCPackerFan's picture

September 17, 2015 at 06:41 am

Nothing wrong with being critical. The whole point of having Green Machine list positive things is because I haven't seen 1 positive thing from them about the Packers. I question whether they are a Packers fan or are just here trolling... I will say his/hers comments are eerily similar to the ones Cow always made.

Any Packer fan should be able to list positive things about this team.

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johngalt's picture

September 17, 2015 at 11:55 am

I think you're spot on. Sometimes this place is filled with emotional crybabies. It's football for Pete's sake. The opposing team is not going to just lay down and let the packers win. This panic that sets in limits your ability to appreciate the game. I agree- the tackling on this team sucks. But we had these guys on the ropes last time and tackling had nothing to do with missing the SB. Must suck to live with so much anxiety.

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dschwalm's picture

September 17, 2015 at 11:51 am

I will second that, Archie. Who are these people who make up these rules - elementary school teachers??

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Bearmeat's picture

September 16, 2015 at 01:42 pm

Is there a way to "like" the post and "dislike" the reason that it has to be here? Sick of this problem.

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Since'61's picture

September 16, 2015 at 02:05 pm

Jay - my first thought is how do players even make it through High School and College football without learning how to tackle?
My second point is, if this was the first or even second season that the Packers were having this problem I could understand it somewhat, but this is going on for 5 seasons now. Either we are drafting bad football players or we are ignoring the problem or we don't know how to correct it, or a combination of all of the above.
Also, as you noted not every team has this problem. The Seahawks, Ravens, Broncos and Falcons all tackled well in their opening games. Beyond that I can't believe that no one in the Packers organization has seen the Seahawks tape before. Good tackling is not just a matter of good football it is also a matter a player safety. I'm not saying that players don't get injured by good tackles but when performed properly there is less risk of injury than lowering your head, or trying to make a flailing arm or shoulder tackle as is so often the case.
I realize that I am and have been pretty vocal on this topic but to me there is no excuse for it and I'm tired of it after 5 seasons and nothing changing. We have about 23 coaches on MMs staff, is it really possible that none of them know how to coach tackling? Can we hire a tackling coach? Right now that looks like a really good investment. Thanks, Since '61

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Jay Hodgson's picture

September 16, 2015 at 04:01 pm

Something is definitely broken, and like you, I'm growing very tired of it. I think the Packers coaches just don't focus on teaching tackling fundamentals. I've watched Haha C-D regress for two seasons now. He was a much better tackler in Nick Saban's Alabama program. He's developing bad habits with the Packers.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

September 16, 2015 at 06:23 pm

Simple -- it's the players.

Outside of Matthews and Peppers I wouldn't label any other defensive player any better than an above average tackler. I didn't add Burnett because he also gets too high on a lot of his tackles. He makes a lot of tackles, but he also gets trucked a lot.

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PaulRosik's picture

September 16, 2015 at 07:36 pm

Clinton-Dix especially is going to kill himself ducking his head like that. Watch what Luke Kuechly did to himself last weekend ducking his head into the ball carrier. Ha Ha better watch that and learn to keep his freaking head up and see the tackle he's missing.

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croatpackfan's picture

September 17, 2015 at 07:35 am

Since '61. As always you are on the top of the problem. But again, I doubt that Packers ignoring the problem. I really think that it is about more than tackling. Also, Your estimation of good tackling teams is somewhat against statistics from the first week. Top 10 teams by number of tackles only 3 has winning record. 1. and 2. Rams and Miami and 10. Patriots. 3. team by number of tackles are Lions (no points in second half!), Browns, Eagles, Giants, Colts, Texans and 9. Vikings... Packers are 22. but just 1 tackle from position 19. which is held by Steelers, Benglas and Jets (Bengals & Jets are known as good to excellent defensive teams!).
OK, I know that this is the number of made tackles, not number of missed tackles, but it is very clear that number of successful tackles is not directly correlated to winning record. Probably the ratio betwen made and missed tackles can tell better story. Mike Reuter, I call you to make some stats about this issue...
And, yes, my opinion is that some teams found a way to go around agreement. I read that Seattle players stayed after training and practicing tackling w/o coaching stuff, in their free time! Maybe other teams are doing similar. Or maybe Packers will need to hire some good rugby trainer to help them improve this tackling issue...

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dschwalm's picture

September 17, 2015 at 12:04 pm

What??????? Nobody is saying that good tackling translates to a winning record. I don't think anybody on this site is that naive, Croat. BUT, when we have an all world QB, and a top rated offence, it would sure help if we made some tackles and stopped the opponents from running up the time of possession. No wonder Fox was so elated after the game. He couldn't believe how well they played on Offence. Even Jay Cutler looked like a young Adrian Peterson when he juked our safety, Ha-Ha, out of his pants for an extra 12 yards and a first down. Now THAT was embarrassing. Statistics don't tell the story all the time. But, if you think the Packers will make their way to the SB with this type of tackling and overall defence, you will be much more relaxed than the rest of us.

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dschwalm's picture

September 17, 2015 at 11:56 am

We need to contact MM and see if you could spend a couple of practice sessions with these guys, Since '61. I am serious. Couldn't have articulated the contentions in your post any better. This is similar to many other posts on many Packers sites. I am stunned that MM's coaches just don't get it. Blaming it on the CBA is not only irresponsible but also hilarious. Wake up McCarthy!!

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Tundraboy's picture

September 16, 2015 at 02:32 pm

Not enough depth to bench players,but I wish MM would react to missed tackles like a fumble. He doesn't tolerate those.

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lebowski's picture

September 16, 2015 at 09:40 pm

Amen

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Amanofthenorth's picture

September 17, 2015 at 04:42 am

If u don't fumble or throw interceptions you can afford to miss some tackles and still win.

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dschwalm's picture

September 17, 2015 at 12:05 pm

Good luck with that.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

September 17, 2015 at 01:37 pm

It doesn't look good, but he's absolutely right.

In all honestly, I'd choose missed tackles over fumbles/interceptions any day.

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lou's picture

September 16, 2015 at 02:41 pm

Agreed, in Wisconsin they have a United Football League (ala the old Pop Warner) so the kids in my area start really young, well before high school and college - so why are the fundamentals not there in the NFL at a greater degree of time than one could expect ? Joe Witt Jr. has done considerably well taking free agents, some who have played other positions or sports in college and made them into solid NFL starters but the last CB that was an exceptional tackler was Woodson (I would discount Tramon Williams the last couple years because of shoulder injuries). If Witt can teach coverage that well, why not tackling - same with our safety coach Darren Perry who was an excellent tackler as a player ? Somebody needs to come up with answers and soon.

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Ibleedgreenmore's picture

September 16, 2015 at 02:52 pm

To me its the biggest area that needs fixed and it needs fixed before the next game.

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JerseyAl's picture

September 16, 2015 at 03:36 pm

I remember reading 2 years ago about the Seahawks using Rugby techniques to teach tackling. Good find with the video!

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JerseyAl's picture

September 16, 2015 at 09:57 pm

by coincidence, great article about the NFL and Rugby tackling in today's WSJ: http://www.wsj.com/articles/what-the-nfl-can-learn-from-rugby-1442335267

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TarynsEyes's picture

September 16, 2015 at 04:48 pm

Why is it when a someone comments something of the nature of this article they are labeled a troll or other name but when a writer of the site says the same it's heralded as truth?

Non-stick Pam spray cans for everyone..yesss!

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Jay Hodgson's picture

September 16, 2015 at 04:55 pm

People like to disagree, complain, and attack for the sake of doing so. My work gets attacked all the time. For example, last week I predicted a close game with the Bears, but that brought out the disagreements.

Pay attention to the productive comments that engage in a meaningful discussion. Ignore the ones that go ad hominem and use the straw man fallacy.

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PaulRosik's picture

September 16, 2015 at 07:45 pm

There's a difference between snarky, sarcastic anti Packer comments and there is criticism of what needs to be fixed. The what needs to be fixed comments gather replies and discussion and the snarky ones tend to get slapped down.

After Sunday's game I was stunned how negative the comments were about an 8 point road win. There were things to be fixed for sure, but compared to the Packers generally terrible play on the road last season that game was a huge success. One person commented that after watching that defense he thought the Super Bowl was only a pipedream? Really? After one road game? How does that nattering nabob of negativity get up in the morning? Or does he just go, "Oh its cloudy today - I think I will go shoot myself in the head then."

Anyway, I love to talk football but negativity for the sake of negativity is just always going to get put down.

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dschwalm's picture

September 17, 2015 at 12:09 pm

"Ad hominem?????????

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Jay Hodgson's picture

September 17, 2015 at 05:13 pm

Definition: (of an argument or reaction) directed against a person rather than the position they are maintaining.

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Archie's picture

September 16, 2015 at 05:20 pm

After 5 years of non-stop failure to get better on defense we have two choices:

1 - accept the current product; or
2 - complain about it to put heat on the GM, HC, DC and his coaches.

I select 2 and if that doesn't work I say fire the bums and start over. What are we, 2-5 in post-season play since the SB? With the best QB in the game in his prime??? Last year was the kind of collapse that should have gotten everyone fired. But not in GB. We hold on to bad coaches forever. See Starr, Gregg etc. Take away AROD and MM's career record is upside down.

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PaulRosik's picture

September 16, 2015 at 08:36 pm

The NFL playoffs are not a best out of 7 series. It is one game against another top team in the league.

When you lose one of those games the absolute worst thing to do would be to set fire to the team you have and start over. When you are winning, you make small tweaks and go for it again. You would seem to prefer going 4 - 12 and firing everyone to winning another division.

Seems to be a lot of that in Packerdom these days. People who hate the DC and the GM so much they almost seem to want the team to fail so they c an get rid of them. Weird.

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PaulRosik's picture

September 16, 2015 at 08:46 pm

The Patriots didn't win a super bowl for 10 years. And lost a couple in the meantime. Somehow I don't think the Chowderheadtv.com (or their equivalent) pages said they needed to fire everyone in New England and start over too often.

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Green Machine's picture

September 16, 2015 at 09:37 pm

The Patriots have never had a defense this incompetent.

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PaulRosik's picture

September 16, 2015 at 10:18 pm

The Patriots defense is hard to measure. They are consistently in the bottom 5 of the league in terms of total yards given up. They hit their worst in 2011 as the 31st defense in the league in terms of yards and 16th in terms of points. By 2013 they were 26th in yards but up to 10th in points. Last season with their improved corner play they were up to 13th in yards and 8th in points and middle of the road in turnovers. They play that truly bend but don't break maddening style to watch, They force you to drive all the way down the field and bet you're going to make a mistake somewhere along the way. In other words, its what the Packers did on Sunday and get grief for here.

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croatpackfan's picture

September 17, 2015 at 07:42 am

I like your logic (not only this post, but complete) and I agree with you. I posted some stats here few days ago, and nobody tried to answer on it. Except Since '61, but he also has good attitude... This is why all those whinners looking even worse they are...

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dschwalm's picture

September 17, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Name-calling isn't any more productive and constructive than whining

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dschwalm's picture

September 17, 2015 at 12:09 pm

Hear! Hear!

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aussiepacker's picture

September 16, 2015 at 06:07 pm

After watching rugby league in Australia all my life, it often amazes me the poor tackling not just for the packers but NFL wide. Surely the coaches can see this is a weakness and even if they bring in someone especially to coach technique and tackle rubber dummies all day long it would have to improve? I cannot for the life of me understand the duck your head and dive for there toes technique that gets used so much?

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4thand1's picture

September 16, 2015 at 07:47 pm

Guys are afraid of going high so they're diving. Fines, penalties and suhspensions. I see Suh kicked someone again.

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zeke's picture

September 17, 2015 at 05:44 am

I think you meant to say that someone dove at Suh's foot again. With a defective chin strap, which is why his helmet came off. That must have been what happened, or he would have been suspended. I guess.

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4thand1's picture

September 16, 2015 at 07:15 pm

I think MM is so worried about injuries, he doesn't let them tackle n practice. It's beyond me how a player starting in pee wee football through high school and college, can't f-ing tackle. I played hockey and never forgot how to check a guy as I got older. These guys are taught how to tackle at a very young age, its football dammit!

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Oppy's picture

September 16, 2015 at 10:13 pm

Just so we're all clear on this, when the Packers have a missed tackle problem, it's called "Packling", "a Packle".

This is what my group of friends referred the problem to when it was an issue for a couple of years in the mid 2000's.

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porupack's picture

September 16, 2015 at 11:09 pm

Jay, good article and you got the issue laid out well. Glad you dealt with the CBA and the excuse that coaches can't run live contact practices much anymore; it impacts, but doesn't fully account for some teams that tackle and defend well. I watched the Seahawks/Rams game; and wow, admired the defenses of both.
The issues are just with tackling either. How come pass catching TEs can't learn to block, and why GBP can't teach Quarless/Finley etc to block well? Is it that coaching or the player? What about the ILBs-DEs persistently unable to set the edge? In the debate about whether the player drafted just doesn't have the tools or the coaches don't teach and demand the technique; I say the evidence is against coaches after so many years. They aren't teaching/training and demanding results. Belichick gets admiration for doing just that often turning JAGs into reliable players.

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croatpackfan's picture

September 17, 2015 at 07:46 am

I also watched that game. I saw very good defenses for total 62 points in the regulation. They were excellent. As Bears D was against Packers. Oh, no, sorry. Bears D was better. Packers have much better offense than both of those teams!

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porupack's picture

September 16, 2015 at 11:20 pm

Vince had sent a request to the football gods to bring Seattle to GreenBay on week 2, bringing the tackling class taught by Professor Lynch and his protégé assistant instructor Wilson. A dumptruck and a light pickup disguised as tackling dummies. The pack is about to either learn, or get undressed. In either case, they'll be the better for it the remaining 14 games and the post season. By Monday morning, they'll either have earned an attitude, or they'll be busting butt the rest of the year to regain their pride. Either way, its a good time to play Seattle! Time to move on to week 2!

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croatpackfan's picture

September 17, 2015 at 07:49 am

Oh, yes, like last year in NFCCG. till 4 minutes before the end, I saw a lot of lesson, most from assistant professor Wilson. 4 INT! That is the way you should play the game. Bravo! And I forget that your Professor Lynch did almost nothing. Then, Packers stopped playing. It was easy to have productive day when your opponent is not playing, but fooling around!

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 17, 2015 at 08:54 am

Overall, I tend to agree, porupack. Lynch and in a different way Wilson should provide all the incentive needed for the packer players to want to improve their tackling. I guess we will find out if they can.

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PETER MAIZ's picture

September 17, 2015 at 03:03 pm

Yup, it's not the CBA rules because then ALL teams would be affected. When I pointed out the Quinn transformation of his defense at Atlanta it was to emphasize a team that had transformed its defense in several months. Apparently, there are Pack fans that defend Capers 'till the death. I'm not in that camp. So if this problem has been going on since The Dark Ages, why doesn't McCarthy correct it?

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Bohj's picture

September 17, 2015 at 11:01 pm

1) I think we can return to late 2014 form. One game doesn't make a trend. And some of you will say.....five years its been this way. I saw something that was quite productive the second half of last year. We can get there again. Three games in a row with minimal adjustments........then I will be moaning as well.
We didn't miss the super bowl because of tackling. We couldnt turn goal line opportunities into TDs. Burnett slid. Rodgers and co went three and out. Bostick. Ha ha lost coverage on a two point conversion. A coin toss. Tramon got old.

2) We have to accept what our talent level is. We can't be everything. We are super stacked on offense and have a few playmakers on D. No team is everything. We are basically set up like the Patriots. Only I would say we tilt more to the offense and they tilt more to the defense lately. Seattle is tilted way more towards the defense. And now they have to pay their QB. Their run is over after this year.

3) Tackling itself. Let's face it. Guys are trying to prolongue their careers. They want to make splash plays but not get injured doing it. We are becoming arena league in the NFL. They tackle high or dive for the feet because they don't want to take on a big hit. Unless they're in a contract year. I can't answer you why some coaches get more out of their millionaires. But these guys don't ball like old schoolers. They're protecting their short careers. You will have exceptions. Some guys ball......all the time. Mathews, peppers, watt, chancellor etc.

4) Health. Media shows them stories of how they could be brain dead or limping when they are older. They see a teammate derail their career with one injury never to be on a roster again. I really think some of these guys are running around scared. No coaches are going to tell them differently.

5) We aren't alone. I didn't watch 14 games. But the four or so games I did watch.... The tackling sucked across the board. One by a Vikings team I thought was going to have a killer D. Seahawks gave up 34 points. You don't give up points like that by tackling well.
Every year, it will take the month of September for the defenses to catch up and make tackling second nature again. If we go by the first few games of what our identity is going to be....then Tom Brady should have retired after four games last year. Payton should retire after his first game this season.....oh wait hw just threw 3 TDs tonight. Remember the whole r-e-l-a-x thing? Remember how we beat the Superbowl champions. Yeah...we did that with solid play on both sides of the ball.

Let's play ball a few games before we start calling this thing a crisis.

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ES 1957's picture

September 17, 2015 at 11:28 pm

Guys - it's only one game. In the 1st game of 1985 the Bears gave up 28 points to a Tampa Bay team that finished 2-14. Don't rush to judgment.

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Shavager's picture

September 18, 2015 at 06:13 pm

C'MON , this makes 5 CONSECUTIVE SEASONS McCarthy has had to call out Dom Capers' defense for POOR TACKLING! This just isn't a first game problem, it's an ongoing problem this team's had that has cost WINS. Time for Capers to expect ACCOUNTABILITY from his players or changes MUST be made and it starts with the HC. McCarthy can't continue to overlook this POOR aspect of a SB contender. IF it comes down to tackling, this team will watch someone else hoist Lombardi's trophy unless McCarthy begins holding somebody responsible.

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