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Inbox: They had to play way better than that

Busts occur when rules aren’t followed

Tennessee Titans wide receiver Robert Woods
Tennessee Titans wide receiver Robert Woods

Brian from Bemidji, MN

Not gonna lie...this team is hard to watch.

Not gonna argue with you.

Tom from Saugus, CA

Well, that was a giant step backward! Offense hardly had the ball in the first half as the defense could not get the Titans off the field. Then when the defense made plays or got us breaks in the second half the offense could not cash them in. This team unfortunately is out of sync and I see the season slipping away.

Last Sunday's win doesn't mean much when you follow it up with a performance like that.

Matt from Dyersville, IA

Is it just me, or is there an extreme lack of urgency on this team? Looks like the fire is gone. I'll hang up and listen.

It always looks like the fire is gone when you're losing, and in this case, never getting the ball back in the second half only down one score. The Packers simply lost to a better team. There's no doubt the Titans are better. The way they shut down the run all night and then flustered Green Bay's offense in the fourth quarter proved that, and I'm not sure the Packers even get so many late chances if the Titans don't get play-action happy. I don't think the Packers lost to better teams in Washington or Detroit, but they didn't play well enough to win those games. They had to play way better than that to beat Tennessee.

Alan from Mount Auburn, IL

Will Matt LaFleur or Aaron Rodgers now publicly say Aaron's hand injury is more serious than we have been led to believe?

Nobody wants to make excuses, but I think Rodgers has said enough. He admitted this week it basically hasn't gotten any better since the original injury in London. That was six weeks ago. We've seen him make great throws, so the injury isn't incapacitating. But we've also seen badly missed throws, which speaks to an inability to find a consistent grip and feel for the ball. The bottom line is if he's going to play, he has to make the throws he's counted on to make. Rodgers knows that.

Don from Boise, ID

They were open. What happened?

The passes were off.

Matt from Kuka, HI

The Titans are statistically at the bottom of the league in passing offense, including being 31st in yards. Yet Barry had no answers to stop Tannehill's big night and the highly vaunted Packers' secondary continued to have terrible coverage breakdowns. Coaches always talk about accountability. Well, who is accountable?

All I know is schemes aren't designed for receivers and tight ends to be running wide open time after time. Somebody is responsible for that man and/or that area. As I said in the live blog, that was the most egregious volume of coverage breakdowns I've seen all season. It was worse than Week 1 at Minnesota, which was mostly about one guy. This was about different targets running free all over at different times. Who was at fault won't be discussed publicly by the players and coaches, but coverage schemes have rules, and busts occur when rules aren't followed.

John from Hubertus, WI

How embarrassing. A Herculean effort against the run completely negated by the Charmin soft zone pass defense. When it's third-and-8, why are we constantly giving receivers a 10-yard cushion?

I don't know. The entire pass defense looked out of sync from upstairs. As I mentioned frequently in the blog, blitzers were getting picked up, and zone droppers were dropping beyond the first-down marker. I don't know of coverages on third-and-7 that are drawn up with the second-level defenders getting 9 yards of depth. Defenders have to know where the marker is and play to it. I also heard the word "creativity" regarding pressure a couple of times this week, but other than Walker getting a free run on his first blitz, I saw the Titans' protection ready for any other pressure calls it saw. Gary's absence was really obvious in that game, and Tennessee eschewed checkdown targets to have extra protection help most of the night anyway. They executed their plan and the Packers didn't.

Bruce from Travelers Rest, SC

On a totally irrelevant note, Charles Woodson's Chardonnay made the list of the Wine Spectator's top 100 wines of 2022.

Anything Charles does, he does well.

Paul from Pompano Beach, FL

It was hard to gauge the enthusiasm and emotion in the stands – opening TD by the Titans and then missing the PAT to tie the game seemed to keep the crowd somewhat at bay, but the team seemed lackluster throughout.

The crowd was really into it after Christian Watson's second TD and Jones' two-pointer made it 20-17 late in the third. Then the air was let out of the balloon when Robert Woods was wide open for 32 yards two snaps later. Five plays, 63 yards, touchdown, no third downs. Totally deflating. After that, the defense came around and the crowd was with it again, but the offense got no first downs on three straight drives while the game was in reach. There was nothing to get excited about.

Jacob from Greenfield, WI

If I were to tell you before the game that the Packers would hold Henry to 87 rushing yards on 28 carries and win the turnover battle but still lose by 10 what would you have said?

I would have said Tennessee's defense must be as good as advertised, and the Packers must not have gotten it done offensively. I would not have foreseen 333 yards passing from Tannehill.

Dan from Grand Rapids, MI

My wife and I were fortunate to be at both games. After Watson dropped a few on Sunday I told her if he caught a touchdown and we won I'd buy a jersey. She said two TDs. Three TDs later I had gained a new favorite player. Sadly I did not get a second jersey on Thursday. But it sure looks like we have a player.

For sure, and I'm certain we would have seen this sooner from Watson if not for all the injuries. But that whole thing about ifs and buts, blah blah blah, nobody cares.

Phil from Portland, OR

On the touchdown to Hooper, why was the call reviewed without the Titans having to challenge? That's not a reviewable play, right?

Certainly it's reviewable, and that's New York chiming in on a high-impact call that is obviously wrong on an immediate look at the replay. That doesn't happen a lot, but it does seem to happen more often during primetime games when New York only has one game to watch.

Peter from Eagan, MN

Rodgers said they have to play up to their potential. What do you see that says this team is better than 4-7? Not too many flashes of excellence this year that convinces me of anything better than what we have seen so far.

It's been a whole season of flashes not translating into four-quarter games. The wins over Chicago and Dallas were pretty decent four-quarter performances, with brief letdowns rather than prolonged ones. But the rest of the season has been mostly fits and starts, with extended struggles in each game, and this league is too competitive to survive playing like that.

Dan from Herriman, UT

Mike, were you two jacked up for Final Thoughts, or was it just that cold outside?

Yes, we were a little jacked, but for good reason. We were actually hustling to get done before the shovelers making their way across the bowl caught up to us, because the noise of their shovels scraping on the bleachers would have ruined our audio. No retakes.

Ron from Long Beach, CA

Since when are football games relocated because of inclement weather? This isn't baseball. I mean, hurricanes and tornadoes I can understand, but snow in Buffalo? Will this start a precedent and cause games at Lambeau to be relocated because of the threat of snow?

Well, we haven't had multiple feet of snow in that short amount of time here that I can remember. The decision to move the game is as much about keeping the public safe as anything. The NFL doesn't want fans doing anything dangerous trying to get to the game.

Riley from Waukesha, WI

Hey Mike, I can't help but laugh today because we have a daily poll at work and today's question is, "Could the best college football team beat the worst NFL team?" and our office is split. I feel like there's no question the NFL team would win. On average, NFL players are 6 years older than college players and all that strength and conditioning training is going to be a glaringly obvious advantage. Others think it's not that big of a jump. They're horrifically misinformed, yes?

As adverbs go, I'm not sure horrifically is adequate there.

Nick from Brookings, SD

Hey Mike, I hate even saying this, but if the Packers drop the next game on their schedule in Philadelphia, they are all but mathematically eliminated. Is there any chance Jordan Love would start the remaining games for the season? It might be in the best interest for the future of the team, they need to know if he's the guy or not sooner rather than later.

I'm not trying to be some eternal optimist here, but based on the current state of the NFC, I expect someone at 9-8 will make the playoffs. So my view is if the Packers get their ninth loss, then other discussions begin, but not until then, even as I agree regarding the need to know the unknown.

Laura from Pittsburgh, PA

Who has been most improved this season?

Josh Myers and T.J. Slaton would be worthy of consideration off the top of my head.

Adam from Pacific Palisades, CA

I was discussing this with a fellow Packer fan (who, not coincidentally, has the last name of Packer). In 1975, Dave Pureifory filled in as kicker for an injured Chester Marcol. Pureifory made 2-of-4 extra point tries. Was he the heaviest person to kick an extra point or field goal in the NFL? I remember him looking huge when kicking off.

Pureifory was 260 pounds, and the Raiders' Sebastian Janikowski was actually listed at 265 during his career. Also, Detroit's Ndamukong Suh, at 300-plus pounds, tried to kick an extra point (among other things) back in 2010.

John from Mercer, PA

I was hoping you could shed some light on regression for us. In normal jobs you get better as you get experience and learn more about your role. Why, in sports, do some players seem to regress so severely over their first few years? Is it coaching, nagging injuries, not handling the money well, complacency? I just don't understand how it happens.

It can be any combination of those things, and also the constantly changing competition. It's a cliché to say if you're not getting better you're getting worse, but it's absolutely the truth because the competition is so fierce the level of play required is a steadily moving target.

Joshua from Eagle River, AK

Call me a bad fan but that's a wrap. Any chance we can just play loose and relaxed the rest of the season and see what that does for us now that the pressure is off?

I wish I could say the Packers have been playing tight and under a lot of pressure, but that's not what I saw. It looked and felt like that in Detroit. Not last night.

Tom from New Braunfels, TX

It is really a sad day in a long career when Ryan Tannehill outplayed Aaron Rodgers at home in 20 degrees and snow. Some of the fourth-quarter throws to Sammy and Lazard were tough to watch. The sack with Dillon running free right in front of him...I just don't get it.

There's been a lot that's difficult to explain.

Chuck from Sun Prairie, WI

Good morning, Mike. Regarding your "face being too blue," is there a chance Blue Man Group could call you up from the practice squad to their active roster?

My marshmallow tossing accuracy and mouth-catching ability have never been up to snuff.

Jared from Rochester, MN

Disappointing end after last week. Biggest story of the season? One side of the ball gets hot and makes plays but it's wiped away by poor play by the other side. Frustrating to see but I guess it's the nature of the beast.

But it shouldn't be the nature of the beast. That's why it's so frustrating, and why I wrote about it at length after the game.

Jay from Wilmington, NC

I'm really starting to appreciate losing in the playoffs. How 'bout you?

As a fan, you have to learn to enjoy every win in this league. Let this season remind everyone of that.

Cindy from Jackson, WI

What time is the game on Sunday?

Glad we're all paying attention. Happy Friday.

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