Before we go overboard with jubilation after the Packers’ huge Week 1 dismantling of the Bears on the road, it would help to remember it was not exactly a perfect Pack performance. There was one area that stood out as requiring improvement: penalties.
The Packers committed nine penalties for 90 yards on Sunday, which was the fourth-most penalty yardage of any team in Week 1. What’s more is that there were four penalties (three that were accepted, one was offsetting) that were not part of the game flow—in all, three for unnecessary roughness and one for unsportsmanlike conduct. Those are pure mental mistakes.
And coach Matt LaFleur was not happy about it. He said he warned his team that, though they did not pay a hefty price for those mistakes on Sunday, that could change in the future.
“That’s definitely one thing we addressed today,” LaFleur said in his press conference on Monday. “We’ve got to be smarter in those situations because those can really hurt you.”
Third-Quarter Penalties Were Costly
Three of the Packers’ misconduct penalties came in the third quarter, when the game was still in doubt. Linebacker DeVondre Campbell was called for pulling a Bear off the post-play scrum following the Packers’ recovery of a Justin Field fumble. That moved the Packers’ starting field position from the 28-yard line of Chicago to the 43.
“We know we can’t pull guys off the pile,” LaFleur said. “I’m not going to ever come to the total defense of (Campbell) in that situation, but the guy was kind of putting his elbow into the neck of one of our guys, which I told him, ‘You’ve just got to go slap his hand away or do whatever you can do to help your teammate out in that situation.”
Rudy Ford was also whistled for an unnecessary roughness penalty following an 11-yard gain for the Bears, that pushed Chicago to the Packers’ 21 in the third quarter, a big boost in the touchdown drive that helped the Bears cut the score to 24-14.
“Rudy, we talked about his, as well,” LaFleur said. “I get it. You’re a competitor and he was bringing it. And he had some pretty nasty hits early in that game and, unfortunately, he was on the wrong side of one. “
Rasul Douglas Dinged for Celebration
There was, too, the Rasul Douglas penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct following the pick-6 by linebacker Quay Walker in the fourth quarter that sealed the game at 38-14.
Douglas appeared to be taunting the Soldier Field crowd after the play.
“I didn’t really see Sul’s until I saw the film today,” LaFleur said. “I’m sure there’s going to be some memes to that out there somewhere. But, you know, you want to try to handle with class and dignity when you win, as well, and we’ve got to make sure that we clean up some of that stuff.”
Overall, LaFleur warned, the Packers were not hurt by the penalties. But that could change.
“You’ve just got to keep your poise,” he said. “Those are moments that you’ve got to learn and grow from. Thankfully, it didn’t cost us, but you never know when it can.”