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Butler's Breakdown: Packers vs. Titans


Monday Night Football at Lambeau Field against the Tennessee Titans - this game is going to be huge in deciding how the 2004 Green Bay Packers team will be remembered.

I think this is a defining game for both teams. These are two teams that before the season, a lot of publications picked to win their respective divisions, go to the playoffs, and more, but both are sitting at 1-3 and are looking at a must-win situation in week five.

The whole Packers team must understand the magnitude of this game. Going 1-4 is unacceptable and a win here could go a long way in getting back in the hunt of things in the NFC North.

On one hand, you have a former MVP, Steve McNair, that's a little banged up. On the other hand, you have former three-time MVP in Brett Favre, who was a little banged up as well last week.

Let's get to the meat of the game.

On defense, the Packers have to stop Chris Brown. This guy started the season - the first three starts of his career - with three straight 100-yard games. He put up numbers on some very good defenses, including the Jacksonville Jaguars, and ran for over 100 against them. Last week, he only had 55 yards against the Chargers, but that was primarily because the Titans got behind early and had to throw the ball more than 50 times.

This Tennessee offense is a run-first offense. They run a lot of perimeter running plays and they like to get Brown out on the corner with his combination of speed and size. The offensive line is very big and strong, but they can be penetrated. The Green Bay defensive linemen have to make sure they get up the field and stay in their lanes to control Brown.

McNair's favorite receiver is Derrick Mason, who is a down the field, big play guy. Their favorite play is when they play-action the ball to Brown and then throw a deep post route to Mason. The Packers safeties and corners have to be very disciplined this week and not bite on the ball fakes.

I look for the defense to possibly use some eight-man fronts and also some stack defenses if they prove they can stop the run with just seven men in the box. You have to tackle well against Chris Brown; he's been breaking a lot of tackles in his early season run to the top of the rushing yardage leader board.

On offense, I look for the Packers to come out aggressive and try to get ahead right away from the start. Against a team that is 1-3, if you can get up on them early, especially if they're on the road - that can be very effective. Doubt will set in, and the Packers would be well on the way to winning the game.

Ahman Green has to be a huge factor this week. I think he will come out with a strong game after being held out of the end zone for the past three weeks.

The Tennessee defense is aggressive, and they're led by Keith Bulluck - a big, strong, fast linebacker who is very opportunistic. We all saw what he's capable of when he picked off that deflected pass in the preseason game and took it 70 yards for a touchdown when the Packers played in Nashville.

One thing the Titans secondary does is they do a good job of stripping the ball, so you can better believe every time Ahman carries the ball they're going to be reaching for it. Most teams can't tackle Ahman, so their tendency has become to reach out and try to strip the ball.

Javon Walker has proven to be a big-time receiver over the past few weeks and he I expect the Packers to try to get him, Donald Driver and Robert Ferguson one-on-one with the Tennessee cornerbacks and exploit those match-ups.

Xs and Os won't even be half of the factor in who ends up winning this game. The keys this week are will, determination and leadership. That's what's going to win this game. It's Monday Night Football, which gives the Packers a chance to show all of their fans across the nation that the 1-3 start was a fluke and not the real Green Bay Packers.

*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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