GREEN BAY – The Titans came into last Thursday's game allowing just 59 rushing yards per game since Week 1.
The Packers' total? 56. Tennessee played to its profile in shutting down the run, and what was evident on the game film was the Titans' quickness at the point of attack.
Near-instant penetration threw off the timing of a Packers ground game that had been rather productive of late. What little success Green Bay had running the ball came to the outside (and that still wasn't much), because the Titans were just too quick inside.
Here's a sampling:
Play No. 1: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 12, first quarter, 10:27 left
Result: 1-yard loss by RB Aaron Jones
Right from the Packers' first offensive snap, the Titans showed they would make it difficult to run on them up the middle, and Tennessee's duo of DT Teair Tart (93) and LB David Long Jr. (51) set the tone. The Packers begin by double-teaming Tart with C Josh Myers (71) and RG Jon Runyan (76). But Long is so fast plugging the hole, Runyan has to come off the double-team early, before any movement has been achieved on Tart, who then works his way free to get in the backfield. Long leverages his hit in the hole perfectly on Runyan, rendering the solid block by TE Josiah Deguara (81) on LB Monty Rice (56) for naught, and Jones has nowhere to go.
Play No. 2: First-and-10 from the Tennessee 40, first quarter, 4:02 left
Result: 2-yard loss by RB AJ Dillon
On any given running play, the Titans appear to play with a mix of defensive linemen who are gap conscious, while others are penetrating without regard for gaps. Here the penetrator is DL DeMarcus Walker (95), who isn't content to just ride laterally off the initial double-team by LT David Bakhtiari (69) and LG Elgton Jenkins (74). He's determined to get into the backfield and is quick enough to do it while the rest of the line is at a stalemate. That closes off the front side. The back side? Long is just too fast for Runyan.
Play No. 3: Second-and-8 from the Tennessee 13 first quarter, :20 left
Result: 1-yard loss by Jones
Back to the duo from the first play, Tart and Long, using their quickness again. Tart surprises Myers with a swim move over the opposite shoulder from where he lined up, getting penetration at the point. Meanwhile Long is crashing his gap with abandon, thanks to DL Larrell Murchison (91) holding his own against a double-team to keep Long free. Fortunately, before the next snap, the Packers catch the Titans substituting with coverage personnel on third-and-long, take advantage of the free play (12-men penalty), and score a touchdown. But the struggles running the ball continue.
Play No. 4: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 6, second quarter, 4:54 left
Result: 1-yard run by Dillon
Backed up by the goal line, the Packers' double-teams on the two defensive tackles in the middle are successful, and Jenkins comes off his nicely to get a piece of Long. But the quickness that beats them this time comes from DB Andrew Adams (47), who doesn't hesitate to crash from the edge, which doesn't allow WR Randall Cobb (18) with a tough angle to execute a block. There's a hole between the two double-teams, but Adams gets a hold of Dillon's ankle before he has any time to find it.
Play No. 5: Second-and-7 from the Tennessee 17, third quarter, 9:25 left
Result: 4-yard loss by Jones
Here the Packers are trying some misdirection, with WR Allen Lazard (13) faking the jet-motion sweep, and then Myers and Runyan pulling the opposite way. But DE Sam Okuayinonu (59) isn't buying anything. He's in attack mode all the way, getting 2 yards into the backfield before either of the pulling blockers can lay a hand on him. He's too quick, they're too late. The lost yardage helps kill the drive and force the Packers to settle for a field goal.
Play No. 6: First-and-10 from the Green Bay 31, third quarter, 5:11 left
Result: 3-yard run by Dillon
This will finish with the textbook definition of being quick off the ball. Watch how fast Tart splits the double-team of Myers and Jenkins. Boom. What does that do? It keeps LB Dylan Cole (53) completely free from any interference to step into open space to make the tackle, and it renders all the other solid blocks across the board useless.