5 Quick Things: GB vs. TEN

After re-watching Thursday’s game against the Titans, here are five six things worth knowing:

1) The play of inside linebackers Quay Walker and Krys Barnes was a big reason why Derrick Henry averaged only 3.1 yards per carry. The rookie from Georgia was used at defensive end on 18 snaps and did a surprisingly good job. He keeps getting a little better each week. I’d like to see Walker given more opportunities to rush off the edge. Maybe he could help fill the void left by Rashan Gary’s season-ending knee injury. Barnes attacked the line of scrimmage and was extremely physical all night. It’s unlikely the player he was replacing – All-Pro De’Vondre Campbell – would’ve been as effective against the run.

2) Rasul Douglas isn’t playing nearly as well as he did a year ago, but Thursday was a very good night for the veteran cornerback. He was physical in run support and made an impressive interception in the fourth quarter that would’ve sparked a team that still had a pulse. But what the former West Virginia star did best was throw his body around on special teams. While a number of other starters are used to cover kicks and punts, none work as hard as the 27-year-old in that unglamorous job. The Packers wouldn’t be such a disaster if a few more players like Douglas were on the roster.

3) While Douglas stepped up vs. the Titans, his more celebrated teammate, Jaire Alexander, had a rough night. The Packers aren’t paying the All-Pro corner over $20 million per year to give up third-down completions to the likes of Robert Woods. It would also be nice to see Alexander at least feign interest in tackling. Watching him run alongside Henry for 20 yards on a third-quarter screen pass was infuriating. Prior to hurting his shoulder in October 2021 and hitting the proverbial jackpot last spring, Alexander would’ve at least attempted to get the much bigger player to the ground.

Alexander (#23) would’ve been more useful carrying an iPhone and taking a video of this play because he had no intention of tackling Henry.

4) It’s unfair to be too critical of Darnell Savage since Thursday night was just his second game as a slot corner, but he needs to be a lot better if this move is going to work. The former No. 1 pick from Maryland got beat twice for 37 yards and appeared to be out of position several other times. He also looked bad on a few feeble attempts to tackle the 245-pound Henry. Savage’s replacement at free safety, journeyman Rudy Ford, followed up last week’s great performance against the Cowboys with a very uneven effort that reminded everybody why he’s started fewer than 10 games since 2017.

5) Titans All-Pro defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons and speedy inside linebacker David Long are brutal matchups for any interior offensive lineman, but Jon Runyan Jr. made their job too easy on Thursday night. The veteran right guard was beaten by both quickness and power and was a big reason why Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon gained only two yards on three carries when running in his direction. Runyan is probably still adjusting to switching sides. His technique hasn’t been as good the past five games, and doing the little things correctly is vital for a player with relatively limited physical skills.

This is a difficult block to make against a very good inside linebacker, but Runyan (#76) has to at the very least slow Long (#51) down a bit.

6) For the second time in 11 days, Aaron Rodgers was outplayed by a pretty average quarterback. The reigning league MVP missed a handful of throws that any talented high schooler could’ve made. If the injured thumb on his right hand is the cause of the inaccuracy, then Rodgers should sit until it’s healed. Then again, a dinged-up digit wouldn’t explain why he took a terrible sack early in the fourth quarter rather than unload the ball to an open Dillon, who was about seven yards in front of him. Lately, Rodgers hasn’t been able to lift the Packers up; in fact, he’s helping to drag them down.

OVERALL: In my game preview, I predicted the team that showed up against the Cowboys would beat Tennessee, and the team that showed up the previous five games would lose by double digits. Unfortunately, the latter group took the field on Thursday evening and lost 27-17. It was a winnable game against a banged-up opponent, but the Packers were badly outcoached, committed far too many mental mistakes, and didn’t come close to matching the Titans’ physicality and intensity.


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Michael Rodney

Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for over 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2004. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey and covered the Philadelphia Eagles for WTXF-TV. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published, and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.

9 thoughts on “5 Quick Things: GB vs. TEN

  1. Appreciate your solid evaluation. Do feel that not only should Savage be criticized but benched. Name a big play he has made. In coverage he often looks lost and his tackling does not exist. I saw twice where he shield away from contact on run support. Couple that with the lost game of chicken against josh Allen and he simply has to sit. Bring up Micah Abernathy..
    Agreed on Walker.
    Receiving personnel strong. Just have to have right guys on field. Why Toure didn’t see action makes no sense. He might not be the biggest or fastest but all he does is make plays. Sometimes the last and the least turn out the best. Star of family night….led team in receptions during preseason. Finally got his chance against buffalo and Detroit….made plays. Intelligent with the ability to read coverage and situation and adjust.

  2. Christian Watson catches 5 TD passes in 4 days. He’s gonna be a star. He’s got a little Randy Moss in him. Too obvious to mention? Must be just for Twitter. Let’s stick to the Darnell Savage tropes. Nothing tiresome or repetitive about that….

  3. I can’t think of one defensive player who’s playing better this season, and that includes Alexander. Maybe Gary before he got hurt, but that’s it. Hopefully, a new DC will make a big difference next season, assuming MLF has the sense to get rid of his buddy.

  4. 1) Always been a fan of Barnes since he arrived. Fans underestimate what he brings to the defense ( toughness and a rally to the ball mindset). That thinking I believe might be more a reflection of him enter the league as an UDFA as opposed to a 3rd round pick. Is it possible that his style of play allowed Campbell or Walker to play a somewhat different game…..maybe.
    Walker hasn’t played a lot of football before entering the league so the sky is the limit for him, love his length and strength.
    2) Big fan of East Orange Douglas who I believe has a spot on any football team….tough, tackles, instinctive, and a student of the game. Never belonged in the slot and as Mike has said I wouldn’t mind seeing what he can do as a safety only because they’ll never play him on the outside over an overrated don’t want to be near the action Stokes.
    Every team needs role players like this that do the dirty work rather than physically gifted players who lack instincts or just aren’t coachable

  5. Michael,

    I know it may be too early, but let me suggest something for your and your readers in the next few weeks.

    You have to make five changes on offense and five changes on defense. Changes may include coaches. The changes must be realistic, keeping in mind the salary cap and the reality that drafted rookies seldom make a big difference in their first year. As a bonus, you may also wish to add ST changes and front office changes. Changes may be personnel, scheme, position, etc.

    Five changes is both the minimum and maximum. You may wish to make seven or eight, but this makes you rank the changes. You may wish to make three or four, but this forces you to think bigger.

    Of course, you may wish to say that I’m setting the bar too low with just five changes on offense and five on defense.

  6. Ok, I’ll play. Darnell Savage is the bane of our existence. What do you do? It seems to me you draft another safety. Problem solved. Not that hard to do. Adrian Amos drafted in the 5th round. Morgan Burnett drafted in the 3rd. While John Schneider, certainly the best GM in our lifetime, traded two first round picks for the very average Jamal Adams. We just picked up a former 1st round safety off wavers. Rudy Ford has played surprisingly well. You can grossly overpay for safeties or you can pick them up off the street. Franchise QB’s however is another story. Much, much harder to find. We need to find out if Jordan Love can play. And if he’s not the answer, then we need to draft another QB. Brian Gutekunst missed on Josh Jackson and KaDar Holloman. He hit on Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes. He missed on J’mon Moore and Amari Rodgers but looks to have hit it out of the park with Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs. The year after the Vikings drafted Randy Moss, Ron Wolf spent his first three pics on CB’s. He hit on just one Mike McKenzie drafted in the third round. Missed on the first two. Such is the way of the draft. I would say QB and not the defense or even safety is the bigger issue here. That needs to be the focus going forward. But I defer to you gentlemen’s learned expertise.

    1. The problem with the current GM is he makes the draft misses worst by using additional picks to move in the round . If your going to move up in a draft for a player you better get it right. So far he’s been dismal drafting in my opinion.

  7. At least Wolf had the sense to get rid of his miss on the 2nd round cb (Fred Vinson) by trading him for Ahman Green in one of the best trades the Packers have made.
    Changes I would make would be to play some of the younger players: Toure, Toms and Wyatt come to mind.
    I’d say Love too but that gets tricky with Rodgers due to his contract. From what I understand he he can really put us in a bind with the cap if he wants to be vindictive.

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