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Butler: Communication Needed For Turnaround


The Tennessee Titans came into Monday night's game with a purpose. Their head coach Jeff Fisher said they had a formula to beat Green Bay at home, and that was essentially to run the ball and get turnovers.

I would like to think that it's not that easy that you can come in and run the ball and get turnovers and walk out of Lambeau Field with a win, but that that formula has now worked for three consecutive games.

We won't do what I call a pile-on session here. We won't go through the blame game. We won't go through the finger-pointing. I think we're beyond that. I think we're to a situation with this team now where they have to fix what is wrong, but before you fix anything, you have to diagnose what's wrong.

First of all, I think the solution is that each guy on the defense - whether he's a starter, a backup or a backup to the backup - has to realize exactly what his responsibility is on every play. Once he realizes what his responsibility is for the week, you have to also know the responsibility of the guy next you. Monday night, the Packers really looked confused on both sides of the ball in a lot of situations.

If I'm cornerback, I have to not only know my assignments, I have to know what the safety on my half of the field is responsible for. Not only do I have to know what the safety is going to be doing, I have to also know what the linebacker is going to be doing on that particular play.

Let's move to the linebackers. If you're the middle linebacker, you have to study what both of the outside linebackers are going to be doing on each and every play. The outside linebackers have got to know what the inside linebacker is doing.

I know this sounds kind of elementary, but sometimes it helps when you're running at a fast pace and you really have to figure out where you're supposed to guy.

When holes in the defense are as big as they were Monday night when Tennessee was running the ball, it was obvious that a lot of the guys on the Packers defense didn't know exactly what everyone else's responsibilities were. If I am supposed to be in a gap, I have to stay in my gap regardless of if another gap is open. I have to trust that my teammate will be there to fill that opening.

I'm not saying that the defense is not trusting each other, I just think that they are getting too out of sync on a lot of plays and the opponents are capitalizing on it.

The reason why I haven't broken down the game yet as far as individual plays and statistics is that I think that has to be secondary at this point. The problems are a lot broader than individual plays. I think the big problem is communication.

This defense needs to communicate more and figure out when they need to go after turnovers and how to create them.

I see opposing defenses stripping the ball from Ahman Green every week. The Packer defense has to counter that by going after more turnovers and being opportunistic as far as getting the ball back to the offense.

Now to the breakdown of the game.

On Chris Brown's first touchdown of night, it seemed like the hole got too big, but there were still one or two unblocked defenders who could have make the play, but just didn't. Tackling has been a real problem in the secondary during the losing streak, so that is something that definitely needs to be fixed.

On Brown's second long run, which put the Titans ahead 14-0, there was a missed tackle by Bhawoh Jue and a missed tackle by Darren Sharper. If that play gets made, who knows how the game might have taken shape?

Going into the game, I thought that the defense was going to have to choose one facet of the Tennessee attack to stop. Either go all out and shut down Brown and the running game, or shut down Steve McNair and the passing attack.

One of the most disappointing plays of the night in my opinion was the 3rd-and-23 that the Titans converted. They threw a simple comeback pass and Ahmad Carroll failed to make the play against Eddie Berlin. That was one of the most disappointing plays because you would think the defense would be able to hold them in such a long-yardage situation.

Although the chances were there for the Packers to make plays and climb back into the game, they never seemed to be able to get their continuity together. They never could rally around one particular thing.

When Bubba Franks scored his first touchdown of the game and cut the lead to 24-10 in the second quarter, I thought that was going to put the fire out and the Packer comeback would begin. Well, the Packers kept piling on to the fire with turnovers.

The communication has to improve on offense as well. It seemed like in certain instances, there would be receivers in the same area which drew a crowd around Brett Favre's throws.

Brett is having to fight an uphill battle right now because it appears he's going to have to try to win some of these games on his own. He's been forced to throw the ball too much. You'd like to go into the game thinking you're going to run the ball, but Green's fumbles and a general lack of running game in the last few weeks have forced too many passes from the offense.

Nine times have teams started 1-4 and gone on to make the playoffs, but there has never been a team to reach the Super Bowl from this position. That's not to say that it can't be done, and I think this team is potentially capable of doing those things.

Right now, any of those thoughts have to be put out of your head though, and the first thing anyone has to think about is to fix the mistakes and get back to having fun on the football field.

If these guys have the character that I know that they have, they will get it fixed. As I'm writing this, the guys are meeting extensively and seeing what they can do to get this turned around.

I know you're angry as fans, but before you jump ship, remember that in the National Football League things can turn around quickly. One win can start a streak, and hopefully for the Packers, that one win will come Sunday at Detroit.

*LeRoy Butler played 12 seasons for the Green Bay Packers, helping them to two Super Bowls and earning NFL All-Decade Honors for the 1990s, before retiring in July 2002. This season Butler is again providing exclusive analysis to beginning with training camp and later with a breakdown of the upcoming game on Saturdays, followed by a column and Q&A session on Tuesdays during the preseason and regular season.

Butler's autobiography, 'The LeRoy Butler Story ... From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap,' is available on his website,*

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