The Green Bay Packers are mired in a slump. So are the officials who call their games.
For the past three weeks, the Packers have had to fight their opponents along with opposing fans, phantom roughing-the-passer penalties, some ghost man who interferes with every receiver who Sam Shields is responsible for, missed fumbles, and receivers who catch our defensive backs for touchdowns. That doesn't include "Chuckstrong."
The Packers have had some rough calls go against them. However, they've had a lot of self-inflicted wounds. Through five weeks, the Packers are one of four teams who've been penalized at least 40 times. They lead the NFL with 390 penalty yards. That's one of those statistical categories that teams don't want to lead.
The Packers realize that they must play with more discipline. They realize that they're responsible for overcoming everything that has gone against them. However, according to Lori Nickel of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, one player reportedly made the following comment:
"It's definitely on us as players. But I think the refs are out to get us this year."
The refs are out to get the Packers? That's a bit paranoid. A comment made out of frustration. Why would the referees want to get them? Why would the NFL want to get them? The Packers have had some calls go their way. For the most part, they just haven't been as significant as the ones that have gone against them.
These calls have been more of a case of dumb luck that goes against the Packers. The other problem is that pass interference penalties are far too subjective for anything more than a 15-yard penalty. Whether it's the replacement officials or real officials, these men can't make these types of contact calls at a real-life pace of the game. That's just the element of human error.
What's the encouraging part? It's early in the season. The Packers haven't played anywhere near their potential. Yet, despite having all these things that have gone against them, Green Bay has been in every game. I'm still confident that this team will turn it around and win the NFC North. At worst, they'll clinch a wild-card berth.
Seeing how this team struggles at Lambeau Field in January, maybe that's a blessing-in-disguise. Maybe.
Joshua Huffman graduated from Middle Tennessee State University as a marketing major in 2009. He's been a Middle Tennessee resident from 1986-88 and 2001-present. He lived in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin from 1988-01 and for approximately eight months in 2009-10 as he completed a 20-game volunteer position with the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers. His favorite sports organizations include the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cubs, Nashville Predators and Tennessee Titans. He can be found on Twitter HERE.
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