Green Bay Packers CB Charles Woodson struggling to get back to last season’s greatness : Packers Insider

Green Bay Packers CB Charles Woodson struggling to get back to last season’s greatness

October 29, 2010 by  
Filed under News

Oct 30, 2010 ~ by Rob Demovsky

~What’s wrong with Charles Woodson?

Joe Whitt has heard the question, and the Green Bay Packers cornerbacks coach understands why.

His star player — who won the NFL’s defensive player of the year award last season — hasn’t made the kind of eye-opening plays he did last season, when he tied for the league lead with nine interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns, and forced five fumbles (including the playoffs).

Through seven games, Woodson has just one interception, although he did return it 48 yards for a touchdown in Week 4 against Detroit, and two forced fumbles.

“He hasn’t played poorly,” Whitt said on Friday. “He’s actually played better than he did last year.”

When asked how that was possible, Whitt pointed to Woodson’s coverage. Last season, according to STATS, an independent sports data and statistical services, Woodson gave up completions 47.6 percent of the time teams threw at him. While Whitt said he didn’t have Woodson’s up-to-date numbers, he said they are better than last season.

“I hear everybody saying he’s having a down year,” Whitt said. “He’s covered better. He’s given up less plays than he did last year.

Although the eyes say otherwise: “He hasn’t played poorly,” Whitt said on Friday. “He’s actually played better than he did last year.”

Wood gave up some plays last year, but he made so many splash plays that he just overwhelmed them. He’s just not making the splash plays like he did last year.”

In addition to the lack of game-changing plays, two things stand out about Woodson’s play. He already has been penalized nine times — one more than he had all of last season, when he led the defense in that category — and he has been on the ground far more than in the past. One of the basic rules of football is to stay on your feet.

The penalties have been a source of frustration, according to his coaches and teammates, and there are indications that the toe injury that has kept Woodson from practicing much of this season is worse than anyone knows. Woodson may also be dealing with other physical problems, although he rarely talks about injuries. He wasn’t in the Packers’ locker room Friday when it was open to reporters.

“I haven’t asked him (about his health),” Whitt said. “I have a policy that if you’re going to play on game day, we’re not going to make any excuses. You’ve got to play.”

Whatever Woodson’s health problems are, he seems more bothered by the penalties than anything else. Woodson was furious over the pass interference penalty that was called on Packers’ rookie Morgan Burnett late in the Week 3 loss at Chicago. After that game, he said, “It’s such an offensive-minded league that you can just throw a ball up on a play and if we touch a guy remotely, then they call a penalty, and that’s got to change.”

Two weeks later against Washington, Woodson was penalized three times — for illegal contact, illegal use of hands and pass interference. The week after that against Miami, Woodson was called for two penalties — illegal contact and holding — while covering receiver Brandon Marshall, who finished with 10 catches for 127 yards (not all against Woodson).

“He’s been very frustrated,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “Like against Brandon Marshall, the guy throws us like three times, then (Woodson) gets up and gets called for it. He is a little bit marked. It’s happened too many times. He feels a little marked because of his style of play.”

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