Packers vs. Titans: Rants & Raves

The 4-4 Green Bay Packers invade Tennessee to take on the Titans this weekend, although, it's still unclear which set of weapons the Packers plan to use during this invasion.  The quick passing attack that nearly scored Green Bay a road win at Atlanta two weeks back was left on the shelf in favor of a more "rocket launcher" type attack against the Indianapolis Colts last week.  The result was an ugly and embarrassing performance that not only resulted in a loss at Lambeau Field but the Packers were also upstaged by a local rodent to boot.

It's hard to know what's coming with the Packers lately and with this being an unfamiliar opponent and on the road, that only increases the mystery factor.  As Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said earlier this week, this may not be a "must win" game, but the Packers haven't put themselves in a great spot with half of the season left.  Despite being just two games out of first place in the NFC North, the Packers aren't playing well and don't look like a team destined to get it together and go on a run.  At least now right now.

On to what is looking up as well as what is not-so-hot right now for the Packers heading into tomorrow's contest.

Rants

Air Coverage

The Packers currently sit in the middle of the pack among NFL teams in passing yards allowed at 250 per game.  Over the last two games, they've given up over 280 in each.  If you're looking for a silver lining heading into this game, Green Bay last faced Matt Ryan and the league-leading Falcons passing attack and Andrew Luck.  Both are very good quarterbacks.  Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota is nursing ankle injury suffered last week and Tennessee is averaging just 235 passing yards per game.  This is also Mariota's first time facing the Packers.  

The Packers hung with the Falcons most of the day until the final drive when their pass defense went AWOL and give up the winning score with under a minute left.  Against the Colts, the Packers were gashed most of the day when Luck wasn't throwing interceptions.  The signature drive in that game was a 96-yarder just before halftime that allowed the Colts to take a 24-10 lead into the locker room.  We've talked about the injuries to Sam Shields and Damarious Randall plenty.  Quinten Rollins was back against the Colts but still seemed hampered by his groin injury.  The back half of the cornerback depth chart definitely didn't uphold their end of the bargain and the Colts receivers made them pay.  

Randall is still out and so it's more of a still-recovering Rollins and LaDarius Gunter on the outside with Micah Hyde in the slot.  It's hard to expect different results after seeing the same thing unfold each week but the Packers are going to need a few big plays from the secondary if they're going to keep the Titans from moving up and down the field all day.  Safeties Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix both turned in a nice day at the office last week, each recording a sack.  Unfortunately it was a missed sack to Clinton-Dix on the final Colts scoring drive that allowed Indianapolis to keep the ball and run out the clock.

This unit simply has to start producing if the Packers are going to make anything of this season.  The "next man up" needs to simply man up this week.   It's easier said than done but it looks as though they'll have their work cut out for them this week again and that injuries have really ravished the Packers cornerback position.

Identity Crisis

Are you as tired of hearing about how the Packers need to "find their identity" on offense as I am?  If it hasn't happened already, it's not likely to start anytime soon.  Packers head coach Mike McCarthy has proven very slow to adjust and adapt to what his team needs, both in game and in season.  Injuries are partly to blame, taking away both running backs and a tight end who figured to be one of the features this season.  But film study shows that McCarthy hasn't used some of his personnel as effectively as he could.  Defensive mismatches that present themselves several times in game where a linebacker or safety is lined up on the back and instead of, say, Ty Montgomery, it's Aaron Ripkowski.  That's just one example.  McCarthy is stubborn, we know this.  But it's really creeping up on him as this Packers team struggles to find any type of consistency in moving the ball and scoring.  

The Packers may get James Starks back this week, but he's been out for several games and won't likely step in and light the world on fire.  Montgomery has proven effective at times, but he mysteriously disappears from the backfield during stretches of games where the offense also failed to produce.  Tight end Jared Cook returned to practice and hasn't been ruled out yet (as of Friday) but he's probably a long shot to take the field against his former team tomorrow.  T.J. Lang will probably fight through his hip injury but how effective he is will be a question.  Once again, injuries are part of the story for the Packers.

Aaron Rodgers missed some throws against the Colts and also made some.  Despite his struggles this season, he's still Green Bay's best chance to win.  He'll need to come up with a decent day on the road to get his team the "W" this week.  It's strange to say but hopefully Rodgers can avoid turning the ball over, something he has done way more of this season than in recent memory.

Lastly, Mike McCarthy needs to have a solid game plan.  These may be the 4-5 Titans, but they will come ready to play and scheming to stop the Green Bay offense is 79-year old Dick LeBeau.  Think he wants another crack at McCarthy after Super Bowl XLV?  That quick passing game would be a good idea to keep Rodgers out of trouble and negate the pressure that the blitzing LeBeau is likely to dial up.

Playing on the Edge

This one is purely an observation, but it seems like the Packers' lack of speed on defense is something offenses are exposing on the edges.  Spread formations, sweeps, bubble screens.  The Packers close extremely well at the point of attack and on the line.  But get outside of that comfort zone and it seems like that is where teams are doing their damage.  This is my biggest worry for Green Bay in this game.  Tennessee has a decent offensive line and we know that DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry pose a challenge by themselves.  It just feels like this could be the game that truly ends the Packers' dominance against the run and then the defense, much like the offense, may be searching for its identity once again.

Zebra Watch

Jeff Triplette and his crew are working this game.  That is all

Raves

Take Five

The Packers used all of their receivers against Atlanta and the result was a competitive game despite missing several key starters.  Last week, where was Trevor Davis?  Geronimo Allison?  Those two are hardly linchpins, but each had a touchdown catch the week prior.  Doesn't that warrant more playing time?  According to the eye test, apparently it meant more snaps for Richard Rodgers, Justin Perillo and Jeff Janis.  Throwing to Rich Rod and into coverage over other options that appeared to be open was one of the more baffling things to come out of the start of last week's game.

Janis dropped a long pass last week that may have gone for a score if he hauls it in.  He's not as bad as many make him out to be, but he makes a lot of mistakes at the worst possible times.  And I'm not seeing the contribution on special teams so I'm trying to determine how and why the Packers value him as they do.  The results are pretty obvious so far.  His speed is an asset and he's made a few big plays, yes.  But you have another burner in Davis so at least get the ball to the guy who's making more of the positive things happen.

The Tennessee secondary isn't exactly top-notch so the Packers would be wise to put the ball in Aaron Rodgers' hands and sling it.  Randall Cobb should be back to his usual role in the offense after a baffling game against the Colts where he was in uniform, but was more of a decoration on the sideline until late.  Ty Montgomery will continue to get his snaps out of the backfield as we still don't know if James Starks will be ready to go in this game.  Jordy Nelson has spent more time in the slot and slot receivers have fared well against the Titans defense this season.  The opportunities are there, the Packers just need to seize them.

What Else?

I'm not sure what else to put in this category.  Simply put, the Packers are struggling right now and there is no consistent positive that they can hang their hat on.  Kicker Mason Crosby, perhaps, but he missed a kick last week too.  The injuries are tough and we're seeing how important Clay Matthews is to the pass rush, for example.  The Packers need guys to step up and find a way to get a road win this week.  General manager Ted Thompson picked this cupboard full of players, especially the cornerbacks.  While they've had some good moments, they're not making enough plays and creating wins.  Circumstances should be noted, but if it continues, it ends up an indictment on the GM.  Either he legitimately thought these guys could do the job if the starters went down or he was gambling that they wouldn't.  So far, everyone is losing that bet.

-------------------

Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Cheesehead TV Live, Pulse of the Pack and Pack A Day podcasts.  You can follow him on Twitter here

0 points

Comments (16)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Icebowler's picture

November 12, 2016 at 07:45 pm

I'd alternate Davis and Janis opposite Adams on the outside and Jordy in the slot. Montgomery in the backfield and Cobb alternating slot and backfield. Move Jordy outside when Cobb is in the slot. Use Allison outside on 3rd and reasonable. Let's stretch the field and open up the middle. Aaron, just move the chains on 3rd down.
On D we need to slow down their bread and butter run game and force them to throw on third down. Hope Hyde can play and our young CB's put in a respectable showing.
And Special Teams: Stay in your lanes!
Triplette: OMG. Just pray he doesn't screw us!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Point-Packer's picture

November 12, 2016 at 09:31 pm

Love the Janis special teams dig. He has been awful on Special Teams this year. And minus his hail mary catch last year, he has done next to nothing as a WR. Why is he on this team? God knows.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
rdent's picture

November 13, 2016 at 09:41 pm

The whole team has been overrated story done!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
MarkinMadison's picture

November 12, 2016 at 08:22 pm

Janis needs to go. Height and speed like Jordy, hands like William Perry. I wouldn't even put him in the rotation. Give the snaps to Allison.

This offense needs to go four and five wide, hit the slants, get the ball out quickly. No great TEs. No great RBs. No great deep threat until and unless Jordy starts looking like Jordy. This is who they are, and this is what they will have to do.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
fastmoving's picture

November 13, 2016 at 03:44 am

Janis is way faster than Jordy ever was.
Allison is a possession receiver only.
Jordy will never look like Jordy again, at least as a deep threat. Even if his knees get better (big if) he will turn 32 and will lose his speed anyway. And by the way, he didn t do much in his first three seasons either. But get way moore chances back than and thats the big difference to janis.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
NashvilleCheesehead's picture

November 13, 2016 at 06:35 am

I will be at the game today. I have the same feeling I did going to games in the 80s -- low expectations and a slight sense of dread. My how quickly they have fallen.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Nick Perry's picture

November 13, 2016 at 06:50 am

Have fun at the game NashvilleCheesehead. Hopefully McCarthy doesn't get in the way and it's a pleasurable experience.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
NashvilleCheesehead's picture

November 13, 2016 at 08:40 am

LOL!!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Nick Perry's picture

November 13, 2016 at 06:48 am

That look on Rodgers face in the picture is a lot like the look he had on his face watching his Defense try to hold the Colts at the end of the 4th quarter last week.

The Titans have the #1 Red Zone Offense in the NFL. Mariota has thrown 28 TD passes and ZERO Interceptions in his career in the Red Zone. Murray is a TD machine, especially once inside the 10 yard line. Expect them to run away from Perry's side so who ever is there they best be ready.

The biggest question I have is how McCarthy plains to use Montgomery this week. Montgomery is far and away the Packers best option at RB. He's about 5 pounds lighter, and about 1 1/2 inches shorter. In other words he's the man for the Job, should be the man, wants to be the man, and is the man who gives the Packers the best chance for success. Scouts thought RB would be his best position and WHEN he's been in the game he's produced. If Monty rips off a run of 24 yards on his 1st carry, another for 5 yards on his next carry, and then is taken out until the 12:05 mark of the 2nd quarter again, leave McCarthy in Tennessee at the end of the game

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Gforcetrivers's picture

November 13, 2016 at 08:16 am

The one consistency in GB game plan is that if it worked last week we will not do it again this week.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Hematite's picture

November 13, 2016 at 10:13 am

That would be Mike McCarthy thinking he was outsmarting the opponent, when he is actually outsmarting himself.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
sheppercheeser's picture

November 13, 2016 at 09:05 am

I hope they don't start out like last week i.e. just heave the ball downfield, down after down. Let's get a few dinks-n-dunks and move the chains. If the running game comes around, THEN try a few longer throws. How does MM not see that his status quo isn't working? Remember the definition of insanity. Come on Pack- let's find a little creativity to find out what the defense will give us! How about a jet sweep? A few more vintage Packer sweeps. Go Packers!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
holmesmd's picture

November 13, 2016 at 12:44 pm

This is one of the worst teams in the NFL right now. Their lack of effort & preparation is an embarrassment. Blow the whole thing up. This brand of clown ball is unwatchable. What a disgrace.SMH

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
rdent's picture

November 13, 2016 at 09:56 pm

I haven't seen anything so bad since the 70's 80's is this Judge Robert Parins come back to run this team? This is an all time low and I 'm glad they benched AR in the end

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
rdent's picture

November 13, 2016 at 09:53 pm

Trade AR to Cleveland in the offseason

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
rdent's picture

November 13, 2016 at 09:54 pm

He"s DONE!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0

Log in to comment and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.