The Green Bay Packers will hit the road this week and begin their three-game road trip with a stop in Nashville where they will take on the Tennessee Titans. This will be the first three-game road trip for the Packers since 2012 and only the third in the last 19 seasons (1998). Green Bay will arrive in Nashville with a storm of criticism from fans, players, and the media. After starting 4-4, the Packers will look to bounce back after a frustrating loss to the Indianapolis Colts at home last week. Here is how they can do it:
Disable the Front 7
As it always is with the Green Bay Packers, the game starts and stops with Aaron Rodgers. His protection is key and the Packers offensive line will have their hands full with multiple levels of talent throughout the Titan’s front 7.
A Dick Lebeau led defense, Tennessee features a quirky, unpredictable fire-zone defense out of a base 3-4. His blitz rate of 35.5% ranks fourth in the league. Anything seems to go on third and longs, including standing up 300-pounders.
One of Lebeau’s most prized players on defense is also the NFL’s leading 3 techniques, Jurrell Casey. A former third-round pick, Casey can be disruptive against both the pass and the run. Built with tremendous balance, leverage, strength, and quickness, Casey will be a handful for the interior lineman on Sunday.
Orakpo, the Washington Redskins 13th overall pick in 2009 and Morgan, the 16th pick in 2010 by the Titans have teamed up to become one of the most feared outside tandems in the NFL. Both don’t have explosive speed, but are built to rush the quarterback and take care of the run. They can’t cover a lick though.
Stay True to Mariota
Let’s face it. Marcus Mariota is the Packers first real test at a mobile, running quarterback. Dak Prescott was good at Mississippi State but only attempted one run against Green Bay a few weeks back. Andrew Luck has been known to run here and there, but he is no real threat on the ground and managed only 15 yards rushing against the Packers last Sunday. Mariota, on the other hand, can torch you if not handled properly.
This will be a true test for the Packers young linebacking duo. Both Blake Martinez and Jake Ryan have been pleasant surprises this season, leading the team in tackles with Ryan at 59 and Martinez at 48.
Between Mariota, running backs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, and leading receiver – tight end Delanie Walker, you can expect the Titans to empesize the run, while mixing in a few deep balls to keep the Packers defense honest. The Titans run the ball on 47% of their snaps and rank third in the league with an average of 144.2 yards per game.
The formations they run are funky. They feature extra tight ends and even a sixth lineman at times. The linebackers and safeties for Green Bay will be tested throughout the game on both containing the run and being honest to the play action.
Attack! Attack! Attack!
The Packers offense was more successful against the Falcons two weeks ago than they had been all season. This success came when they opened up the playbook and utilized the young talent. Rookie Trevor Davis had a breakout game with a beautiful punt return and three catches for 24 yards and a touchdown. Undrafted Free Agent Geronimo Allison pulled in two catches for 21 yards and one touchdown. Fan favorite Jeff Janis had four catches for 30 yards and a touchdown as well.
The key here is to continue to expand the playbook by exploring multiple formations with multiple players. For years, Green Bay’s offense has stayed in the same basic mold and the time has come for them to evolve. This is the game to do so. The Titans are in the bottom half in almost every defensive category. This offense should come out guns blazing.
The potential return of Jared Cook, who was drafted by the Titans in the third round in 2009, would be a huge upgrade for this offense, given the immense struggles of Richard Rodgers. Randall Cobb, a native Tennessean, is also expected to be 100% this Sunday. Each week this team will continue to fight through their games. Each week more players will come back from injuries and this team will find their move. Just you wait.
Hopefully this will end up like the last time Green Bay met with Tennessee. Result: 55-7 Green Bay
Fun Fact: Packers Executive Vice President, General Manager, & Director of Football Operations Ted Thompson played linebacker for the Houston Oilers from 1975-1984, appearing in 146 of 147 games.
Green Bay – 38
Tennessee – 21