NASHVILLE – If it wasn't already, it's look in the mirror time for the Packers.
"We just have to go back and work on ourselves," quarterback Aaron Rodgers said following a 47-25 loss to the Titans at Nissan Stadium.
It was the Packers' third straight defeat following a 4-2 start that was up-and-down but seemed to provide promise as the team weathered another difficult string of injuries.
But any good will and positive vibe from the fan base has vanished with Green Bay now at 4-5, committing glaring miscues in all three phases, and sustaining still more injuries.
Rodgers' "work on ourselves" comment to begin a turnaround hits it on the head. The rest of the season and any chance of stealing the NFC North title in a currently middling division will be less about Green Bay's opponents and the game plans, and more about the Packers cleaning up their own game.
No one is shirking responsibility, and certainly not Rodgers. Right away he pointed to his miss of open receiver Randall Cobb on the game's first third down, when the Packers had prime field position following a recovery of Tennessee's surprise onside kick.
The game went sideways from there, and quickly. Several schoolyard highlights from Davante Adams and Jordy Nelson were fun to watch, but falling behind so early like they have the last two weeks is no way to find continuity and build confidence.
"Obviously I have to play better," Rodgers said. "We have to find a way to score more points and it starts with me.
"We made some good plays at times. Davante had a great game, Jordy was very solid, Randall played through a frustrating injury. Hopefully we get Jared (Cook) back at some point. It was good having James (Starks) back.
"But we all have to play better, and it starts with me. I have to play better, too."
As much as Rodgers can find success moving the ball with the no-huddle, hurry-up approach, playing that way all the time won't help a defense that continues to struggle with injuries and surrendering big plays.
Starks gives the offense another option it hasn't had for the past month. Rodgers called it a "big boost" to get him back. A more diversified attack coupled with a reset on defense can get things going in the right direction, but the early deficits have to stop.
"The way we started slowly on offense, we got very one-dimensional," Rodgers said. "We'd love to get to some more two-back stuff, but we have to start faster if that's going to happen."
The improvement required is up to the Packers, and Rodgers even noted the "healthy fear" any player in this league has for his job when the film reveals shortcomings. There's never a lack of motivation.
They've hit rough stretches before and pulled out of them. The timing of the current slide is later than those in the past, but regardless, the message is not about who's next on the schedule.
It's about the Packers focusing on themselves to find their way back.
"Guys were ready to play. It comes down to execution," Rodgers said. "You can say all the right things and be as prepared as possible, but it comes down to execution when you're out there."
That's been said before. So has this:
"The urgency has to pick up and the focus has to pick up and we have to play better," Rodgers said.
It's being heard again because it's true, and right now, it's the only truth to go on.
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