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Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Chatman Effect

by LosAngelis

PackerChatters Staff

Just a theory I was bouncing around in my head last night. I was listening to Chris Havel torching Antonio Chatman on the sport talk radio last night (he makes no bones about how useless he thinks Chatman is), and I started thinking about my "playing not to lose" assertation.

Chatman, in a way, is kind of the lynchpin of this theory. For several seasons, now, we've grown used to having a non-playmaker returning punts. However, we always justify this by saying "at least he doesn't fumble". And we consider this a good thing.

I don't. Well, let me rephrase that...I don't see it as much of a "good thing" as a "not bad thing". In other words, we're rewarding players for NOT making a mistake instead of doing the positive things. We're rewarding playing it safe instead of taking the risks needed to be a playmaker.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that almost any returner over the last 4 years or so is partially handcuffed, because our return blockers just don't do enough to put the returner in position to make plays...but once again, we're content, because we didn't fumble the ball. We fair catch after fair catch.

Obviously, this is a microcosm, and open for debate. My point (trying to be clear on it) is that playing it safe and focusing on NOT making mistakes doesn't equate to winning.

Obviously, any coach will tell you that a team has to minimalize or "stop" making mistakes in order to win. No doubt there. But you also have to make plays. When I look at our team over the first four games, I saw a lot of focusing on NOT making those mistakes. And, I do believe there is a high frustration level that comes along with that. The reward for trying to win is winning. What's the reward for trying not to make the mistake that will lose the game for the team?

Apply that mentality to nearly any other job or profession...focusing on not making mistakes instead of getting the job done. What if police officers focused only on not arresting the wrong person, letting cars get away for fear there might be a car crash, not shooting when needed because they might miss?

The media focuses very hard on when the police make mistakes. The recent problems in New ORleans are examples. But we normal humans take it with a grain of salt and recongize that those men also make many sacrifices, take necessary risks, and do a whole more good than harm. And we encourage them....DON'T let that punk driving at 100 MPH get away, because he'll be free to commit crimes again some other day.

The Chatman Effect personifies my concen with the Packers, and moreover, with people who look to point fingers on every mistake. The people who condemn Carroll and want him to focus on not making mistakes. The people who condemn Green and want him to focus on not fumbling. The people that condemn Favre and want him to focus on not throwing interception.

Carroll is starting to come around. He's realizing he can minimalize his mistakes, but still make one...and allow that to motivate him to make a play to make up for it later. Donald Driver does this very well. David Martin has shown his ability to do this. Brett Favre has done it for years.

PLEASE...don't make this a Favre issue. I'm not trying to make it that. But, I am focusing on the effects of playing NOT to lose instead of playing to win....recognizing that you can't sacrifice the risks you need to make to win games to serve the "no mistake" god. Favre is a part of that discussion, indeed, but you can apply it to this entire team, and how we criticize the team for mistakes, looking to place blame and point fingers at an individual mistake.

When Carroll has 5 penalites in a game and makes no plays of note, then there is a problem.

When Carroll has 1 penalty in a game, even a big one, but makes it up with solid tackles, and maybe an interception or key defensed pass...you have to see those things even out, instead of focusing on the negative.

I've noticed a couple times the improbable...Chatman has geared up to catch the ball and immediately take off, sometimes directly into a defender on punt returns. I've been trying to figure out if the shock I had was because it was so risky, or because its been so long since I've seen Chatman take a risk I was that surprised.

Who the heck wants to watch a non-risk taking, anal-retentive football team, even if they win? Point is, unless they are incredibly talented, head-and shoulders above all others...they won't win.
It sounds like Darren Sharper would be the perfect player in your system. He was never afraid to gamble for the big play. Were the gains he made in those situations worth the risk of the numerous blown coverags, poor angles, or misreads that he made?

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