When Johnny Jolly committed his foolish personal foul penalty in the first quarter, I thought Mike McCarthy should bench him for the game. Indeed, I thought he should be sent to the locker room, told to shower and instructed to finish watching the game there.
Harsh? Yes. And it’s entirely possible that with an injury up front or building fatigue, we would have really needed Jolly. But the Packers are an undisciplined team — a very undisciplined team. And though McCarthy pays lip service to eliminating stupid penalties, it’s hard to point to anything he’s actually done to accomplish this. (Indeed, sometimes when he’s answering questions he downplays the consequences of stupid penalties, which sends the opposite message.) So Jolly’s idiocy was actually an opportunity for McCarthy to make an important point about penalties.
It was a missed opportunity.
Read this from Bob McGinn’s piece today on Jolly’s reaction to the penalty. (Warning: If you are prone to cursing uncontrollably when you’re angry, you might want to close your office door or read this at home.)
Once again, Green Bay didn’t play smart football. The worst example occurred in the first quarter when the Packers had the Vikings stopped in the red zone, but defensive end Johnny Jolly head-butted running back Chester Taylor after the play.
That handed Minnesota a first down and led to a touchdown by Adrian Peterson, giving the Vikings a lead they never would relinquish.
Afterward, Jolly showed little or no remorse, in effect saying that was the way he played and would continue to play.
“Hey, I play on the edge,” said Jolly. “I play like that every game. Me playing like I play.”
That rings in your ears, doesn’t it? “I play like that every game.” And he does. On occasion, he makes spectacular, almost balletic interceptions that would make even the most coordinated defensive back proud. But he also commits dumb penalties that suggest he’s either not paying attention to the game or he doesn’t care about the consequences of his actions. Could it be that there are no consequences?
It seems to me there are two possibilities here — and both should give great concern about the coaching. Either McCarthy (or Dom Capers) did no get in Jolly’s face after the penalty or they did and he doesn’t care. I’m not sure which is worse. If the coaches did not get after him for commiting a penalty that cost the Packers four points, they’re not doing their job. And if they did chew him out and he still said what he said to McGinn, they’re doing their job but not doing it effectively. Either way, there is a discipline problem.
As Jolly says, he plays like that every game.
UPDATE: More here from Jason Wilde.