Will Packers Learn Their Lessons?

Win over the Cowboys was nice, but much more is required to defeat Titans

Yes, the Packers beat the Cowboys. It likely means nothing for the playoff picture, except to delay elimination (we’re not big on miracles.) But there were signs of progress that need to continue tonight if Green Bay has any hope of defeating Tennessee: 

 

 — Run the ball more? Check. Rodgers only threw the ball six times in the first half, and 14 all game, a welcome signal of discipline and operating within the system. Not to mention doing less with his bad thumb. 

 

— Use more play action? Check. This goes hand-in-hand with running more. It also requires more play under center and less shotgun. 

 

— Do better on first and second down? Check. This was as critical as anything that happened against Dallas. It cannot be overstated how much getting to third and less than five opens up the offensive playbook and stresses the defense. 

 

— Use the middle of the field more? A definite improvement. The first Christian Watson touchdown was important for the rookie’s confidence and Rodgers’ trust, but it was another high-variance go ball, the odds of which good defenses will take every time. The latter two, however, were nice schemed routes across the field that we need to see more of. Overall there was a much more balanced use of the middle of the field on pass plays, an important development.

 

— Start, and trust, hungrier bench players who deserve a chance? Check. Rudy Ford is exhibit A; Enagbare and Garvin were acceptable. Amari Rodgers has finally been cut.

 

— Sammy Watkins showing signs of a pulse? Yes. 

 

— Did Rodgers do more leading and less moping? Check.

 

All these things need to continue for the Packers have a prayer against a very physical and well -coached Titans team that does not quit. And in Derrick Henry they have a wrecking ball of a running back who is better than anyone in the NFL at doing what gives the Green Bay defense the most trouble. Tony Pollard shredded the defense for 115 yards on 22 carries. Pollard doesn’t hold a candle to Henry. The Packers need Quay Walker to have the game of his life, with slot corner help.

 

Similarly, CeeDee Lamb torched the Packers on the back end. Joe Barry and his squad are going to have to do a lot better tonight or Rodgers will rarely see the field and will be playing from behind constantly. 

 

The Packers have to turn it back on Tennessee, with long, clock-eating drives that keep the Titans offense from running long, clock-eating drives. The Titans have a history, like the Packers this year, of playing down to their competition. Tonight might not save the season, but a good showing can help the Packers find a rhythm and identity that fits the players healthy enough to play. 

 

Otherwise, it’s time to sit Number 12, shut down those struggling with nagging injuries, see what Love can do and angle for a high draft pick.

__________________________
Jonathan Krim grew up in New York but got hooked on the Packers — and on hating the Cowboys — watching the Ice Bowl as a young child.  He blames bouts of unhappiness in his late teens on Dan Devine. A journalist for several decades who now lives in California, he enjoys trafficking in obscure cultural references, lame dad jokes and occasionally preposterous takes. Jonathan is a Packers shareholder, and insists on kraut with his brats. You can follow Jonathan on twitter at @Jkrim.

1 points

Comments (31)

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Coldworld's picture

November 17, 2022 at 08:17 am

The first challenge this week will probably be to stick with our run game. Against Dallas we averaged over 5 yards per attempt from the outset. The Titans look like a much tougher prospect. Can we get enough in the ground to set up the pass? Will we stick with the run game when that doesn’t happen immediately?

The Titans have a good rush. If we deviate from the run it will be a challenge for this line. If we respond by going into a LaFleur 5 yard O then this game is likely over. We have to get their D stretched vertically early. That means protection and more aggressive personnel running more aggressive routes, not just Watson running deep. Playing Cobb/Lazard/Watkins focused ball is likely a loser as we won’t stretch snf probably stall out.

The run is critical to buying us time to create a chance for Rodgers. Then LaFleur had to be willing to use players and personnel in ways which open the opportunity to get chunk posts mixed in. Will he?

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Guam's picture

November 17, 2022 at 10:04 am

I agree with much of what you say ColdWorld, but I think it is not just LaFleur that needs to remember to "run the damn ball". I think Rodgers is just as culpable as LaFleur in the desire to have a passing dominated offense.

Remember it was Rodgers who said he wanted to go down swinging by passing the ball all over the yard. And the Detroit fiasco resulted. And that was after having run the ball so well in Buffalo. I have long suspected that LaFleur calls many rpo's and Rodgers opts for the "p". Both the HC and the QB need to commit to the run. I worry more about the QB than I do the coach.

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PatrickGB's picture

November 17, 2022 at 08:21 am

Very few things bug me more than seeing a big cushion from our DB’s before the snap. Sure, it’s great against mega fast receivers on a go route. But QB’s must be licking their chops at seeing that from the defense. It also invites the run.

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HarryHodag's picture

November 17, 2022 at 08:26 am

"Otherwise, it’s time to sit Number 12, shut down those struggling with nagging injuries, see what Love can do and angle for a high draft pick."
-----
So you sit your $50 million dollar man in favor of his back up? The Packers already know what they have in Jordan Love. Each game Rodgers is active he gets nearly $3 million dollars in compensation. Plus, do you think a healthy Rodgers is going to quietly stand on the sidelines? He'll be ticked majorly which is not good for anyone.
The constant desire to look to the draft to solve all problems brings to mind the Cleveland Browns and the Carolina Panthers. The Browns especially have reaped the draft rewards of being a lousy team. Know what they still are? A lousy team. The Jets have improved with Robert Salah at the helm. Houston and Jacksonville remain lousy even with a bunch of top picks.

The draft is part of a complex puzzle to improve a team and if you happen to find a Justin Jefferson you're a winner. If you find a Damarious Randall as a top pick, it's a disaster.

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Coldworld's picture

November 17, 2022 at 08:38 am

They have no more idea of Love than they did of Rodgers in 2008 when they drafted Brohm (and subsequently admitted) This is just a tired old trope of an argument. As to the 50 million, that’s money badly spent if we are eliminated almost by definition and regardless of fault on the field.

Of course you look at Love and others if we are eliminated. Getting more information on players is better than learning nothing just going through the motions to fulfill a season.

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EnemyTerritory's picture

November 17, 2022 at 09:29 am

Losing with a 50m dollar man versus losing with his potential successor. Either way the draft picks are the same. It’s what you do with them that counts. First, You can potentially turn draft picks into veterans. Look at how Miami acquired Tyreek hill and others…. Second, there is no guarantee the 50m thumb is coming back next year. Why waste the opportunity to evaluate the other options. If love shows anything then you can trade him if you want to hitch your wagon to Rodgers. The front office needs to be brutally honest with QB12 and tell him that they can’t wait two months after the season for him to decide. This conversation needs to be had when they are eliminated from the post season. That way the team can plan the comprehensive rework that is needed and evaluate replacements for high salary cap players and promising rookies.

This is about the G. It is not about one player. There is no rule or contract provision that says that QB12 is the only player who cannot be benched for the good of the franchise.

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Guam's picture

November 17, 2022 at 09:53 am

"This is about the G. It is not about one player." Thank you EnemyTerritory!!. If the Packers are eliminated from contention, they need to do what is best for the team, not for Aaron Rodgers. I don't care if Rodgers gives them the best chance to win a game after elimination, the Packers need look toward the future. And that future is not Arod. It may or may not be Jordan Love, but at age 39, it is not Aaron Charles Rodgers.

I root for the Green Bay Packers first and individual players second. I have greatly appreciated Rodgers' tenure in Green Bay and will applaud his introduction into the Hall of Fame. But the Packers come first, not QB12.

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HarryHodag's picture

November 17, 2022 at 10:56 am

Do you and Cold World think for a second that the coaching staff...who sees Love in person every freakin' day of the season have no idea what his abilities are at this point? Really?

Whether any of you admit it or not Rodgers contract means he plays if he's healthy. I never said there was a rider in the contract. In the pro game you don't sit a guy who makes that kind of money. Period. Love will have to wait.
If Rodgers gets hurt, well there it is. But to think the team will order Rodgers to the bench once the season is scorched is just fantasy. I could see them letting Love do a few drives, but fans come to see Rodgers like it or not.

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Guam's picture

November 17, 2022 at 11:27 am

We are going to agree to disagree HH. Both ColdWorld and I have repeatedly made the point that the Packer FO had no idea what they had in Rodgers' during his second year and drafted Brian Brohm with a second round pick as a potential replacement for Favre. Seeing guys practice is helpful, but there is nothing like game film to determine whether a guy belongs in the NFL or not.
The Packers have some idea what they have in Love, but likely don't know whether he is a starter in this league or not and won't until they play him.

Your discussion of Rodgers popularity and his contract are legitimate, but it would be a gutless Packer FO that abdicated the future to milk Rodgers last few ounces of popularity. And yes, superstars do get sat down. Manchester United has sat Ronaldo down most of this year despite a huge contract because he is not helping the team. United has tried to trade him with no takers and is expected to cut him after the World Cup break. And Ronaldo is a bigger star world wide than Aaron Rodgers. Every athletes' career comes to an end some time. The key is recognizing when and acting in the best interests of the team. Hopefully the Packer front office is up to the task.

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HarryHodag's picture

November 17, 2022 at 01:59 pm

The only thing that matters is winning, even if it is with a team that won't make the playoffs. Aaron Rodgers---love him or not---is the team's best option to keep winning. To think otherwise is delusional.

This isn't fantasy league/draft time. There's still 7 games to go and even a loss tonight doesn't eliminate them from an at-large playoff spot.

Rodgers has corked me off plenty over the past five years. I wanted him gone five years ago. But to put the backup in now--win or lose against the Titans--is bordering on silly. Even if they lose again sitting Rodgers down won't help things.

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Guam's picture

November 17, 2022 at 05:37 pm

If you had bothered to read what I posted, then we might not be having this discussion. My second sentence was as follows: "If the Packers are out of contention, then they need to do what is best for the team, not Aaron Rodgers". I agree that as long as the Packers are in contention, then Rodgers needs to play. However, IF THE PACKERS ARE OUT OF CONTENTION, then Love needs to play.

Once the Packers are out, then the rest of this season becomes about winning next season and winning in the longer term. The longer term and maybe even next season won't include Rodgers given his age. The Packers need to find out what they have in Love and if he isn't the answer at QB, then they need to draft another QB in the 2023 draft. They can't do that with Love sitting on the bench when the Packers are out of contention.

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Coldworld's picture

November 17, 2022 at 03:27 pm

No i didn’t think for a second and nor did TT and co from 2005 to 2008 …. If you don’t catch the dripping sarcasm then it probably explains your post.

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T7Steve's picture

November 17, 2022 at 09:55 am

Jonathan you wrote "with long, clock-eating drives that keep the Titans offense from running long, clock-eating drives." you needed to say long clock eating "SCORING" drives. Play with the lead, play under center. Keys to the game. We had long clock eating drives against the Bills and I think Tennessee would love to use that as a blueprint. Packers need to look like their 2020 O and score touchdowns on the first 4 drives. Maybe punt twice in the second half. IF the O-line is intact tonight it's possible to start improving. GPG!

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Since'61's picture

November 17, 2022 at 10:09 am

Actually Rodgers attempted 20 passes and completed 14 of them. He was also sacked twice which means the Packers called 22 pass attempts. Rodgers also ran the ball which were scrambles. The Packers actually called 24 passes and 37 running plays which is still a better run/pass ration than they have had in forever.

The titans defense is ranked 23rd in yards allowed to date in 2022. They are ranked 2nd in run defense and 31st in pass defense in yards allowed. It's looking like a passing night for the packers to me. Yes, the Packers should run the ball to compliment and set up their passing attack but running against the Titans could prove futile.

A first down approach might be quick passes to Jones or the WRs at the LOS and use long handoffs to pick up 4-6 yards on first down. That means second down we could either run or pass. Point is keep the defense guessing. Move the chains and keep Henry off the field. Ultimately this game like all NFL games will come down to the trenches. The Packers OL needs to be better than they were against Dallas and our DL need to win on their side of the LOS. If Henry gets to rampage through our defense it's going to be a long evening and we'll be playing from behind.

It's going to be in the mid-20s at game time so I'm expecting Dillon for the Packers and Henry for the Titans to get more than their fair share of touches.
Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

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Guam's picture

November 17, 2022 at 10:41 am

I certainly understand your logic Since'61, but the problem is that the weakest part of the Packer offense is our WRs and the strength of the offense is in our running backs. It will be strength vs strength and weakness vs weakness. It is not clear to me that this needs to be a passing dominated game.

I think your point about keeping the Titan defense guessing is the key. The game plan by LaFlear and its execution by Rodgers is going to be critical. And please get Jones lots of touches, either running or receiving.

And the trenches on both sides are going to have to man up and be very physical to match the Titans.

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Since'61's picture

November 17, 2022 at 11:59 am

Guam I agree that it will be critical for jones to get numerous touches. I think that Lazard, Watson, Tonyan and jones provide enough versatility for the passing game to be effective. To me it's all a matter of how effective the OL plays. They are the key to keeping our drives going.

On defense job #1 needs to be to stop Henry. If we can force the Titans to be one dimensional the Packers significantly improve their chances because with Alexander we have one side of the field shot down which limits their passing attack. Barry needs to be creative. Use run blitzes to stop Henry. This game will be a huge test for our LB corps and our DL must get penetration and absorb the Titan blockers.

wish that we had an entire week to prepare for this game, but we don't so here we are. Thanks, Since '61

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Coldworld's picture

November 17, 2022 at 03:33 pm

I would go as far as to say that might just be the worst possible tactic against this team. With that approach we will see our OL tormented and LBs free to blitz or cover without hindrance. We need the run to slow the rush as much as anything. We have to keep at it I feel. Their weakness is in the secondary and deep coverage. If we don’t play to that it could be an eerie repeat of earlier season games.

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T7Steve's picture

November 17, 2022 at 10:56 am

Pass and run from under center. I hope the "THUMB" allows that approach. I don't mind some looks in the gun especially on obvious passing downs, but they need to be 60%+ under I think tonight for the O to work.

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Rarescope's picture

November 17, 2022 at 06:17 pm

Did you see the post on II about the thumb and taking snaps under center a couple two tree weeks ago? That was me ;)

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jannes bjornson's picture

November 17, 2022 at 11:31 am

Score points and make Tannehill try to catch up. Generally, most teams play fast and furious on TR night tilts.
They don't have the energy to ground and pound on short weeks. Run Bill Walsh's play sheet.

5 points
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croatpackfan's picture

November 17, 2022 at 01:07 pm

"The titans defense is ranked 23rd in yards allowed to date in 2022. They are ranked 2nd in run defense and 31st in pass defense in yards allowed. It's looking like a passing night for the packers to me."

That scares me. Why? We saw result vs 32 defense vs pass. Loss. I'm afraid that ACR will turn the game in all pass, as he is prone to do that. I hope not. I hope Packers team learned a lot (every player, including ACR) from the last game. And from the game before last one. It clearly shows that you can not win vs one of the worst team in NFL just by passing. Today football is more than imposing your will. It is complex game. And every player should follow game plan.

Let the planners swet for losing, not players who plays what is told to them.

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Coldworld's picture

November 17, 2022 at 04:54 pm

They have had some significant injuries on their D, some of whom have stared to return. It’s not necessarily as weak a D on paper as it might appear, depending on current health

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beautiful_mystery's picture

November 17, 2022 at 12:04 pm

Yes! If #12 starts crying and having a tantrum in Coach LaF's face....well, I hope LaF leans into one of #12's ear holes and whispers, something like, "careful, I shit bigger than you".

Just once, that is all I ask...

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croatpackfan's picture

November 17, 2022 at 01:08 pm

Be realistic, do not ask for impossible...

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LeotisHarris's picture

November 17, 2022 at 03:41 pm

Now, Pantz_Burp, they'll be none of that here. I believe we've already established that teams with character are polite to each other at all times, and respect authority. Therefore, any crude euphemisms or talk of bowel movements must be nixed. Period.

I'm not sure everyone knows the main reason Lombardi traded Jim Ringo. Sure, there's the well-known story of Ringo acquiring an agent for salary negotiations, Lombardi flipped out and BOOM, Ringo was off to Philly. I think it was Cliff Christl who found out years later that Ringo had been yelling at some of his teammates, and made a face behind Hawg Hanner's back once in a team meeting. He also, reportedly, told a series flatulence-related of knock-knock jokes at inappropriate times. As you'll recall, Ringo was a Philadelphia Eagle from 1964-1967, missing out on World Championships with the Packers. Character matters.

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Rarescope's picture

November 17, 2022 at 06:18 pm

If the Packers players always respected authority we wouldn't have the Lambeau Leap!

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beautiful_mystery's picture

November 17, 2022 at 06:49 pm

Ahhh, Rare...if we didn't have #92 and #36 on that play, I don't know when it would have happened?

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beautiful_mystery's picture

November 17, 2022 at 06:37 pm

Thanks LH, I will stand down and shut my pie hole....for as long as I can practice self-restraint (which isn't a strength of mine).

Yes, character does matter....that is why I am participating in this particular sound board. I want to move the Bell Curve a smidge...

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Rarescope's picture

November 17, 2022 at 06:19 pm

I don't know Burpy, LaFleur is a pretty small guy. I think 12 would have to call his bluff on that one.

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beautiful_mystery's picture

November 17, 2022 at 06:38 pm

He is small enough to clank #12 in the mushroom, if need be....

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beautiful_mystery's picture

November 17, 2022 at 06:43 pm

If the Pack is victorious this evening, they best crank "Tennessee Whiskey" by Chris Stapleton as the fans depart the hallowed ground of Lambeau Field.

I have been told, I sound just like Mr. Stapleton. Chicks dig it and find me emotionally immature. But, my swooning and charasmatic juxtapositioning of my words, keep them coming back. Like a moth and the ol vintage bug zappers hanging on the back porch...

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