Week 10: Titans Conquer Packers in Blow Out
Gary: After a disappointing loss to the Colts at Lambeau, the Packers are now starting a three-game road trip. It begins in Nashville against the Tennessee Titans. The Packers’ .500 record can be a bit deceiving, but in a positive way. Three of the Packers’ four losses so far have been by a combined nine points.
The Titans are a unique challenge. They enter the game with a near-perfect balance between running the ball and passing. Their rushing attack is the 3rd best in the league, led by former Cowboys star Demarco Murray and last year’s Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. The Packers still lead the league in stopping the run.
Now quarterbacking the Titans is Marcus Mariota, another Heisman Trophy winner, is the first mobile quarterback the Packers will face this season. Dom Capers has been forced to change his defensive scheme because of the injuries at cornerback, and no longer plays with a safety in the box to stop the run. Instead, both safeties play deep to help out young cornerbacks like Ladarius Gunter, Quinten Rollins and Demetri Goodson.
Injuries across the team are testing head coach Mike McCarthy. He tells ESPN that there are 21 different personnel packages in the game plan against Tennessee. It’s the most variety he’s ever installed, as he tries to find a way to spark a Packers offense that’s looked stale this year.
Meanwhile, the narrative around the Packers has shifted. The focus has started to come off of Aaron Rodgers and his poor play this season and now sits squarely on the long-term futures of McCarthy and Ted Thompson.
Surrounded by thousands of Packers fans in Nashville, the game gets underway.
Tennessee roars out to a quick lead, blows out Green Bay
Jon: And boy, does it get underway. If you thought the Packers started off really poorly against the Indianapolis Colts, you were crying into your jersey right away in this one. Here are the first seven things that happened in this game:
- The Titans start the game with an onside kick. It’s recovered by the Packers at the Tennessee 49.
- James Starks runs for 3 yards.
- James Starks run again for 3 yards.
- Aaron Rodgers throws an Incomplete pass to Randall Cobb.
- Green Bay punts on 4th and 4 from the Tennessee 43, and it results in a touchback. It’s a change in field position of 23 yards.
- An offsides penalty is called on the Packers’ Mike Daniels.
- Titans running back DeMarco Murray runs for a 75 yard touchdown.
But no worries, the Packers get the ball back right away and proceed to go five plays and out on the next drive. The Titans then scored on a six play drive that featured a 41 yard pass, a 21 yard pass, and then a touchdown pass from a running back to a tight end. Suddenly, it’s 14-0 Titans.
The Packers go three and out on the next drive, and the Titans score on a 9 play, 71 yard drive. If you’re starting to recognize a pattern, you’re very good at this. The Titans are leading 21-0 after the first quarter, and the aging tight end Delanie Walker has 5 catches for 98 yards and a touchdown.
The second quarter does not get much better. The Packers show some signs of life, scoring on their first drive to make it 21-7. Tennessee proceeds to answer with a four play, 75-yard touchdown drive. Believe it or not, it gets worse still from there.
The Packers march down and kick a field goal, cutting the lead to 28-10. They stop Tennessee on their next drive, and if the Packers score before the half, it could be 28-17 at the break.
After the Packers stop the Titans, something very bad happens that affects this player for the rest of the season. Trevor Davis, back to return a punt, muffs the catch. After a penalty, the Titans take over having recovered the loose ball at the Packers 12 yard line.
Three plays later, they score a touchdown to extend their lead to 35-10 before the half. Good night, Green Bay. The game is academic from that point on. The Titans go on to win handedly, 45-27.
The Atlanta loss was justifiable, and the Colts loss perhaps understandable, but the Packers got absolutely worked in this one. The defense gave up four scoring drives of 55 yards or more. Three were 75 yards or more. How close are you to pressing the panic button?
Gary: Pretty close. The Titans have a talented young quarterback, and a running game that got the best of the Packers as their defense begins to regress. However, that’s no excuse for just how lopsided this game was from the start. I think, like you said Jon, the way this game started was the worst start of the season and maybe even the worst start of any McCarthy coached game because it felt hopeless after two drives.
Losing two games against back-to-back AFC South opponents is a tad embarrassing, too. So much was made going into this year about how Green Bay had one of the easiest schedules in the league, thanks in large part to playing this division.
Now, the best the Packers can hope for against the division is a .500 record -- and that’s not guarantee as their final game is against division-leading Houston.
The road isn’t getting any easier, and that’s why I got my hand on the panic button. The Redskins are next, and they’re a formidable opponent with a quarterback even more talented than Mariota. Well, I’m not sure if he’s more talented overall, but he’s 100% better at asking “YOU LIKE THAT!”
This conversation first appeared in Episode 18 of our weekly podcast. Blue 58, powered by WTMJ Mobile, goes beyond the headlines to help you become a smarter fan of the Green Bay Packers. Hosted by former WTMJ newscaster Jon Meerdink and his friend Gary Zilavy, Blue 58 brings you a unique, upbeat perspective on your favorite NFL team, as long as that team is the Packers.