Packers are piling up penalties as they struggle to produce points

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — It isn’t just a lack of talent or experience that’s hindering the slumping Green Bay Packers.

There has also been a lack of discipline.

The Packers have committed a league-high 7.4 penalties per game. Green Bay committed 11 penalties for 99 yards Sunday while falling for the fourth straight time in a 24-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

“Certainly the lack of disciplined play, that’s paramount,” coach Matt LaFleur said after Sunday’s game. “Because it doesn’t matter what you’re doing if we’re getting called for things. We’ve got to clean it up.”

The Packers have committed 52 penalties through their first seven games of the season after producing 17-game totals of just 69 in 2021 and 89 last year.

“We can’t win that way,” cornerback Rasul Douglas said. “We get a third-and-1, they get penalized. Now it’s third-and-10. We get third-and-11 on defense and, all of a sudden, we get a penalty to give them a first down. They’re hurting us.”

Green Bay’s early flurry of penalties helped cause the Packers to fall behind for good in the first quarter.

The Packers were called for ineligible receiver downfield on their opening series to wipe out a 20-yard completion from Jordan Love to Romeo Doubs on third-and-1. The Packers ended up punting on that series and wouldn’t get a first down until their fifth possession, with just over four minutes left in the first half.

Green Bay then committed personal fouls on back-to-back plays during the Vikings’ first touchdown drive. Jonathan Owens was called for unnecessary roughness in what appeared to be a marginal call, then Kingsley Enagbare was flagged for roughing the passer.

“Just got to be a more disciplined football team at the end of the day,” running back Aaron Jones said. “I feel that’s something that we’ve always been here - a disciplined football team. So just getting back to being disciplined.”

Green Bay figured to be making these kinds of mistakes early in the season because of its youth, particularly on offense in the first season after the trade of four-time MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Yet the errors are still happening on both sides of the ball nearly halfway through the season. Players and coaches have noted the Packers shouldn’t be using their inexperience as an excuse.

“It’s our circumstance,” LaFleur said Monday. “It is what it is. The expectation is whoever’s wearing that ‘G’ on the side of their helmet that’s out on the field, is that we go execute at a championship level, and we’re just ... we’re not there.”

WHAT’S WORKING

Not much at all is working for the Packers on the field, but at least they’re finally feeling better physically. All the Packers’ inactive players Sunday were healthy scratches, with LB De’Vondre Campbell and CB Jaire Alexander both returning from injuries.

WHAT NEEDS WORK

This list seemingly gets longer every week. The Packers simply must start faster. They can’t keep committing this many penalties. Their passing game isn’t producing big plays. The pass defense that had been a strength for most of the season struggled Sunday to contain Minnesota’s receivers, even with Vikings star Justin Jefferson on injured reserve. KJ Osborn, Jordan Addison and tight end TJ Hockenson all had at least 88 yards receiving.

STOCK UP

OLB Rashan Gary announced Monday he agreed to a four-year contract extension that enables the Packers to keep one of their top overall players through 2027. ... OLB Preston Smith had two sacks Sunday and has four over his last three games.

STOCK DOWN

LT Rasheed Walker struggled enough that he was replaced by Yosh Nijman in the first half. LaFleur said the left tackle situation is “going to be up for discussion” this week. ... The entire offensive line had a tough day, as Love was sacked four times. ... WR Christian Watson has just six catches for 60 yards over his last two games. After scoring nine touchdowns (seven receiving, two rushing) in his rookie year, Watson has reached the end zone just once in the four games he has played this season. ... Alexander returned from a back injury that had caused him to miss three of Green Bay’s last four games, but he had trouble when he matched up with Addison. Alexander had the coverage on Addison’s 20-yard touchdown.

INJURIES

Nijman hurt his foot late in the game.

KEY NUMBER

73-9 — The Packers have been outscored by that margin in the first half of their last five games.

NEXT STEPS

The Packers must decide whether to make some moves before Tuesday’s trade deadline as they get ready for Sunday’s home game with the Los Angeles Rams (3-5).

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl