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Mike McCarthy has work to do with Packers' defense, special teams

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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Dom Capers' defense couldn't hold, and Ron Zook's special teams couldn't stop holding.

Because of it, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy might have to dedicate even more time to those units after the way they performed in Saturday's preseason loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

McCarthy, who gave up offensive play-calling duties this offseason in part to spend more time with the rest of the team, ripped the special teams and couldn't have been much happier with a defense that gave up 325 yards and allowed five touchdowns in the first half alone to Chip Kelly's fast-paced Eagles offense.

"I think as you look at the performance first half, particularly in the first quarter, that definitely [is not] the way you want to start a football game," McCarthy said. "I don't think, really, all three phases helped one another at all."

It started when Eagles undrafted rookie Raheem Mostert sliced through the Packers' kickoff coverage team for a 67-yard return on the game's first play. (Mostert, by the way, isn't even listed among Philadelphia's top-three kickoff returners and is No. 3 on the punt-return depth chart.)

Capers had all 11 of his preferred defensive starters together for the first time this preseason, yet the return of Clay Matthews, Morgan Burnett, Mike Daniels and Nick Perry didn't have much positive impact. With most of them in the game, the Eagles took a 25-0 first-quarter lead.

"As a defense, we've got to do better," safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix said. "We've got to continue to fight through everything and just play better."

Meanwhile, Zook's units kept getting flagged. Referee Carl Cheffers' crew called eight special-teams penalties against the Packers. As bad as things were for the Packers last year, former special-teams coach Shawn Slocum's units had only 12 accepted special-teams penalties all of last season. McCarthy fired Slocum and promoted Zook, who assisted Slocum for one season.

"Special teams was poor; I'm not going to sugarcoat that," McCarthy said. "We had bad field position time and time again. The holding in the return game, way too much of it. Each and every week you play with a different officiating crew. We're educated on it. Everybody has tendencies. This group, they called it tight tonight. It was evident the first quarter, but we did not play with the discipline needed in the fundamentals. Special teams did not have a good evening at all."

Sean Richardson, who played more special teams snaps last season than anyone on the Packers' roster, called the penalties "unacceptable."

"I really don't know what it was, but I think guys were trying to play faster than what we were doing, out there thinking too much," said another core special-teams player, Jayrone Elliott. "It wasn't our scheme. We were prepared for everything. I think we've just got to settle down."