Over the course of four dreadful quarters, the Green Bay Packers have managed to obliterate any shred of optimism on the part of their fan base by allowing a middle-of-the-road Tennessee Titans team to steamroll them by a 47-25 tally in one of the storied franchise’s most devastating losses in years.
Finding anything positive to highlight in their Week-10 implosion would be akin to finding your way out of a deep, dark forest with a brown bag over your head, as Mike McCarthy failed to—once again—light a fire under a sad-sack group that came out flat by allowing Marcus Mariota and company to score touchdowns on their first four drives.
Injuries cannot justify Green Bay’s rapidly eroding play especially when the team in question couldn’t help but find new ways of shooting itself in the foot yesterday with a season-high 12 penalties.
Aaron Rodgers did his best to keep any flicker of hope alive by planting the seeds of an improbable (and hopeless) comeback by narrowing the Titans’ lead to 16 points early in the third quarter, but that’s as good as it got for a free-falling Packers’ squad that couldn’t block, cover or tackle.
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It appeared as if most of the team had forgotten how to play football at times and made the 4-5 Titans look like a collection of immortals with super-human powers with Delanie Walker playing the role of the Man of Steel and DeMarco Murray running defenders over like a suped-up Sherman tank.
Changes should be in order here, but how soon and to what degree remains to be seen. While most devoted supporters can probably agree that McCarthy’s expiration date as head coach has come and passed, an in-season shake-up could pay immediate dividends, but probably won’t result in a dramatic turnaround.
Immediate modifications will most likely result in certain players either getting benched or outright released in a desperate attempt to infuse a breath of life in a rapidly decaying structure seemingly destined for an inevitable collapse that will leave the boys from Packers News on the outside looking in at the start of post-season play.
Although we the fans have no say as far as which players will receive more playing time or which ones will get the axe, well-informed Packer backers that sat through yesterday’s interminable and tortuous defeat are well aware of the guys that are bringing it along with the ones the imposters who aren’t carrying their weight.
With that, I present to you the latest edition of the Packers’ stock report detailing the efforts of this week’s heroes and zeroes.
Aaron Rodgers: His overall performance wasn’t one for the time capsule, but he made the best of a horrid situation by throwing for 371 yards, rushing for 27 and producing three touchdowns (two passing and one rushing) despite Titans’ pass rushers living in Green Bay’s backfield.
After a few plays where No. 12 either misfired or rushed his throws, Rodgers got into a groove on his first scoring drive by completing six consecutive passes culminating with a one-yard touchdown on a short slant to Jordy Nelson.
The offense continually fed off the unique chemistry between Rodgers and Nelson who connected on back-shoulder routes along with passes in which the signal caller correctly anticipated his receiver’s movements.
Rodgers is developing the same type of trust in Davante Adams who made his share of big plays, including a 17-yard hook-up that saw the 12th-year veteran leading his target with a pin-point toss slightly outside his frame.
But perhaps the most memorable Rodgers moment took a place on a third-quarter 2nd-and-10 play in which the Packers’ field general had his entire lower body wrapped up by Avery Williamson on what should have been a sack, but still managed to muscle a five-yard strike to Nelson coming across the middle.
Critics may argue all they want about the 32-year-old’s California-cool demeanor and perceived lack of fiery leadership, but Rodgers was the main reason why most Packer diehards were still tuned in during the second half of a game that was doomed from the outset.
James Starks: After a month-long absence, Starks looked spry, invigorated and refreshed in taking over the lion’s share of the backfield touches. He had a total of 10 touches for 44 yards.
His best play came on a 13-yard screen that didn’t look very promising until he exploded past defenders by using his vision and elusiveness to get into the end zone. The move he put on rookie safety Kevin Byard at the end of the play was pretty remarkable.
The one regret is that McCarthy couldn’t supply Ty Montgomery with a few more touches, but that may happen the next time the Packers actually play with a lead…and who knows if that will ever happen again this year.
Jordy Nelson: No. 87 was an omnipresent force as he made a variety of catches at different parts of the field while reeling in 12 of 18 targets for 126 yards and a one-yard touchdown.
Nelson and Rodgers were on the wave length with the sure-handed wideout frequently running across the middle or coming back toward his quarterback on various plays.
Nelson was also seen playing defensive back on two occasions in which Rodgers tried to force passes that could have been intercepted if not for his receiver’s quick thinking to deflect those balls out of harm’s way.
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When all else fails, Nelson will always be there for Rodgers to target…and during the early stretches of the game, he was the only one getting open.
Davante Adams: The third-year man brings juice to the Packers’ aerial attack and made a number of spectacular run-after-the-catch plays in his team’s futile attempt to catch up with the Titans.
Adams was magnificent in converting a 3rd-and-10 play at the end of the first half with Rodgers hitting him in stride as the pass catcher put on the after burners and raced for a 38-yard gain that put the offense inside the red zone.
The ascending weapon also nearly scored by making an acrobatic catch in the end zone, but couldn’t keep both feet inside the playing area.
A 35-yard over-the-shoulder grab against Jason McCourty in the third quarter was one No. 17 can easily add to his personal highlight reel.
Adams caught six of nine passes for 156 yards and is becoming increasingly difficult to defend due to his repertoire of stutter moves and head fakes he employs in getting open.
Jayrone Elliott: The seldom-used, long-armed outside linebacker brought some much-needed energy to the Packers’ front seven by showing the ability to get off blocks and penetrate the opposing backfield, as he did on a 2nd-and-1 Derrick Henry run play in the first quarter in which the back was dropped for no gain.
The unheralded defender has earned himself more snaps and, hopefully, will see more come his way next week at the expense of others that have checked into the witnessed protection program—more on that later.
Blake Martinez: The rookie linebacker’s motor kept on running and he was one of the few players that were able to bring down Delanie Walker, as was seen on a 2nd-and-4 tight-end screen play where Martinez got out in space and immediately cut down the pass catcher on the one-yard gain.
Martinez was also effective in stopping the run by finding an open crease in the opening moments of the second half and tackling DeMarco Murray for a one-yard loss.
The young tackling machine is making great reads and quickly getting in position to disrupt plays.
David Bakhtiari: The typically reliable bookend delivered his worst performance of the year by uncharacteristically getting called for false-start and holding penalties as well as getting knocked off-balance on a 3rd-and-13 sack by DaQuan Jones before exiting the game with a knee injury.
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the offense will be in trouble if Bakh is out for extended period considering the fact that rookie Jason Spriggs isn’t physically ready to play a full complement of snaps if he were to start.
Don Barclay: If the Bakhtiari injury wasn’t enough to crush the spirit of devoted Cheeseheads, T.J. Lang was also forced to leave the game due to an ankle mishap and the man replacing him is every offensive lineman’s dream.
Barclay’s utter lack of foot quickness and lateral agility made him easy prey for Jurrell Casey, who easily went around the cumbersome guard and tackled Starks for a four-yard loss on an ill-conceived screen play.
Richard Rodgers: McCarthy has a lot to answer for including his decision to leave (Richard) Rodgers on the field for 65 snaps while a true playmaker like Montgomery was only afforded 22.
The lethargic tight end struggled getting open all day and was also responsible for a fourth-quarter interception on a route where he suddenly (and inexplicably) stopped and let Perrish Cox record the turnover on a pass that was at least five yards beyond the reach of its intended target.
The other Rodgers went on to drop a 4th-and-9 pass that would have earned his team a first down had he made the routine catch.
If there anyone on this team that is more deserving of getting cut right now than this man?
He was later seen getting beat by fullback Jalston Fowler on a five-yard run by Derrick Henry.
Two issues with Pennel are that he was too slow off the snap on some plays while also struggling to stay low when engaging blockers and thus losing leverage.
Nick Perry: Outside of one play in the second quarter where he beat his man and closed in on the ball carrier (Henry) on a one-yard loss on 2nd and 9, Perry wasn’t in on any impact plays. He needs help which may be on its way if Clay Matthews can ever get on the field or if more snaps are provided to Elliott and Kyler Fackrell.
Datone Jones: The former first-round pick was recently lobbying for some snaps at tight end and that may not be a bad idea if it can get him going on the other side of the ball.
Jones was once again a no-show who got lost in the trenches and only emerged late in the game on an insignificant cheapie sack in which Marcus Mariota was more than willing to concede an eight-yard loss in the interest of bleeding the clock with his team holding an insurmountable lead.
Micah Hyde: The Iowa product’s head must have been spinning given how he was repeatedly getting beat over the middle and on the outside.
Hyde definitely couldn’t hang with Rishard Matthews on a second-quarter 32-yard touchdown pass in which the defensive back was seen slipping and tumbling to the ground in a desperate effort to prevent the score.
The slot corner was targeted again with two minutes remaining in the first half on a Mariota touchdown pass on a short fade to Kendall Wright that Hyde was too late in reacting to.
The Big-Ten import may not be blessed with world-class speed, but he’s been around since 2013 and should be able to at least recognize routes a little quicker.
Morgan Burnett: In all fairness, Burnett did do some positive things out there, including a hard-earned Mariota sack that saw the veteran safety run down the mobile quarterback and pull him down by the ankles.
But the heady defender was also responsible for blowing the coverage on a Murray-to-Walker halfback option pass that put the Titans up by a 14-0 score.
Instead of patrolling the back end of the end zone, Burnett came up toward the running back which allowed the tight end to roam free and pull in the easy throw uncontested.
To make matters worse, Burnett’s tackling was suspect, as evidenced by his feeble attempt to tackle Walker on a 14-yard play by throwing his shoulder at the big Titan, who went on to add more yardage, rather than wrap him up with his arms.
Kentrell Brice: Watching the rookie safety try to defend Walker was like being at a back-yard game and looking at your seven-year-old nephew try to cover his 12-year-old brother.
Brice didn’t bother jamming Walker and when he did try to bring him down, the all-world tight end shook him off like a flea.
The young man still has a lot of learning to do and I would suggest working on his tackling technique and hitting the weight room.
Trevor Davis: It’s hard to chastise any player if they only committed one glaring mistake, but Davis didn’t have to worry about much in this game outside of his special-teams duties and his fumbled punt at the end of the first half not only deprived his offense of an opportunity to narrow the lead, but paved the way for another Titans score.
He felt the presence of an oncoming Beau Brinkley and simply dropped the ball.