Instant Takeaways: Packers can’t stack wins against Titans

Nov 17, 2022; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) attempts to break a tackle by Green Bay Packers defensive end Dean Lowry (94) in the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 17, 2022; Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) attempts to break a tackle by Green Bay Packers defensive end Dean Lowry (94) in the first quarter at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

After a big win against Dallas, things come back to what is the Green Bay Packers’ new normal, as they lose their seventh game of the season, this time to the Tennessee Titans. The pass defense struggled mightily, and while the offense was able to move the ball at times, it wasn’t nearly consistent enough.

Now at 4-7, here are my instant takeaways from the Green Bay Packers performance.

– As expected, it was tough sledding on the ground, with the Packers averaging barely over 3.0 yards per rush. They did find some success running out of shotgun and to the boundary with several receivers out wide. Unlike against Dallas, it was clear that the Packers wanted to spread out this stout Tennessee defense as much as possible, which meant more shotgun and passing plays overall. I guess I can see why Green Bay felt the need to do this, given the opponent, but this wasn’t the formula a few days ago and the offense looked much more disjointed. When Green Bay needed the passing game, they couldn’t come through.

-Running the ball wasn’t easy, but the Packers were still quite effective off play-action, including Christian Watson’s third-quarter touchdown.

– Against a very good pass rush, the Packers’ offensive line once again held up in pass protection. Now healthy, this group has been playing much better as of late.

– Naturally, there was a lot of concern about this Packers’ run defense against Derrick Henry, but they did do a nice job of containing him. Barry sent some blitzes, had Quay Walker lined up at edge rusher, and played with heavier fronts, utilizing four interior defensive linemen along with two edge rushers. The players also did well tackling and set some strong edges.

– On the flip side, this defense looked awful against an underwhelming Titans passing game that entered the game ranked as one of the worst in the NFL. For an offense with no major threats at receiver and an offensive line that has struggled in pass protection, Barry played a lot of soft zone coverages again, but when he didn’t, it’s not as if the cornerbacks played all that well. Ryan Tannehill had time when he wasn’t blitzed, and the underneath routes were open all day. Zone coverage plus no pressure is not a recipe for success. As I wrote about prior to the game, Green Bay should have been much more aggressive against these pass catchers. Instead, the Packers were picked apart by Tannehill.

– The third-down defense was so bad against Tennessee. Whether third and short or third and long, the Titans were able to move the chains. As far as what the issues were on third and long, take a look at the previous paragraph.

– If Barry doesn’t blitz, there is very little pressure getting to the quarterback.

– Christian Watson is becoming a touchdown machine, and tonight, that athleticism was on display. On the first touchdown, a free play, Rodgers simply gave him a jump ball opportunity. On the second, his speed blew through the Titans’ zone coverage on a crosser.

– A terrific performance for Quay Walker. He looked the best that he has all season against the run and did a little bit of everything for the Packers, from run defense to playing edge to blitzing and coverage. Unfortunately, he left with a shoulder injury.

– The Packers deployed the same personnel in the secondary as they did against Dallas. Darnell Savage was in the slot when in nickel with Adrian Amos and Rudy Ford deep. In base, it was Savage and Amos at safety with Krys Barnes next to Walker. Then in dime, which wasn’t used much, it was Keisean Nixon in the slot, Amos at linebacker with Walker, and Ford and Savage deep.

– It was Randall Cobb’s first game back, and on a short week, he made some big plays in the passing game while also being Green Bay’s punt returner early on. In addition to Cobb, Keisean Nixon had a punt return as well, bringing some playmaking to the position.

– The weather is turning cold in Green Bay, and the special teams play is declining. There was a penalty and a blocked extra point. Mason Crosby’s inability to get kickoffs to the end zone isn’t helping the kick coverage unit either.

– There were some missed opportunities to extend drives in the fourth quarter because of some poor throws from Aaron Rodgers. He also took a very avoidable sack in the final minutes that killed a drive. It was a rough fourth quarter for him.

– Following their seventh loss, the Packers may be at the point of needing to win out in order to make the playoffs.