The Green Bay Packers dropped their 7th game of the season on Thursday Night, falling to the Titans 27-17. Here are four thoughts on where the team stands going into Week 12
1. Christian Watson remained a bright spot for the team
One player fans should remain excited about as this lost season continues on is the development of rookie WR Christian Watson. The Green Bay Packers rookie followed up his Week 10 breakout, 3 TD performance with a 4 catch, 2 TD game, showing that Watson is coming along nicely and has a bright future in the NFL.
While it’s easy to wonder how much different the Green Bay Packers season would look if Watson held onto the first target of his career or was able to stay healthy for the first half of the season, it’s just as important that the touted rookie is making the most of his opportunities now that he’s back healthy.
It would be especially great if the Green Bay Packers could get fellow rookie WR Romeo Doubs back from a high ankle sprain suffered in Week 9 against the Lions, as the pair could become a truly potent WR duo the team hasn’t had since 2014 with Nelson and Cobb.
2. Rodgers was again off-target and disjointed on the field
Unfortunately for the Green Bay Packers, the rest of the offensive effort on Thursday night was dismal. Rodgers’ performance, in particular, was a far fry from what the future-HOF QB did last Sunday against former head coach Mike McCarthy’s Dallas Cowboys.
Rodgers’ throws were often wayward and he again was missing reads on many of his throws. The worst play of the night was a 3rd & 3 that illustrated all of Rodgers’ struggles in one moment when he badly overthrew Lazard on a dig. Rodgers’ throw was late because the QB again avoided the middle of the field, then left the ball too high and behind Lazard, who had no shot to even jump for the ball due to the position he was in on his route.
Rodgers also ended up taking an intentional grounding penalty because he again passed up multiple open targets – the most glaring being Watson on a deep out – and instead threw the ball into the dirt when he got pressure in his face.
The Green Bay Packers’ season likely ended on Thursday night as, while not mathematically eliminated, sits in 12th place in the NFC and 2.0 games out of the wild card race with the possibility of falling to 2.5 games back if the 49ers beat the Cardinals tonight on MNF.
3. The defense stopped the run…but…
The Green Bay Packers went into Thursday night knowing Derrick Henry would be the focal point of the Titans’ offense. And while they did a solid job of stifling the Titans on the ground, holding Henry to 3.1 yards per carry on 28 rushes, the pass defense was picked apart by Ryan Tannehill.
Tannehill had his way through the air, throwing for 333 yards (12.3 yards per attempt) and a pair of TDs, while Henry himself picked up a passing TD on a Tebow-like jump pass.
Coordinator Joe Barry again failed to marry his pass coverage to his pressure packages. The Green Bay Packers were in fact getting decent pressure on Tannehill through the game, helped by numerous blitzes. But, due to loose coverage in the secondary, Tannehill was able to find targets to get the ball too.
The soft coverage prevented the Packers from taking advantage of the times Tannehill put the ball up haphazardously and too often the Titans had pass options running free through the Green Bay Packers secondary, a common theme through this season that has ailed the defense repeatedly.
While many fans are calling for Barry’s head, the fact is there really isn’t any point in firing him at this point as the season is lost and any interim option is coming from within, and do any of the defensive assistants inspire much confidence?
Unfortunately, the defensive game planning and playcalling will have to wait until the offseason to be addressed. That said, if LaFleur is still the head coach in 2023 (I think he will be), Barry should not be back. In fact, there’s a decent argument to be made that the Green Bay Packers should consider jettisoning the entire defensive staff and starting fresh on that side of the ball.
Again, these are likely decisions for another day – and perhaps another head coach – but it’s worth having the preliminary discussions as this unit looks listless and rudderless on a weekly basis.
4. How much longer will we see Rodgers?
Going back to Rodgers, it is fair to ponder whether he is nearing the end of his tenure as the starting QB for the Green Bay Packers. While most fans, including yours truly, hoped he’d get to have an Elway or Peyton Manning-esque ride off into the sunset, the fact is Rodgers and the Packers are likely headed for a disappointing and messy divorce.
Rodgers has not been good for most of this season and while the entire season isn’t his fault, he has not played up to his $50,000,000 contract. With the Green Bay Packers teetering on playoff elimination, the question stands on whether the team should continue to start Rodgers once the team is eliminated.
The front office and staff need to see whether Jordan Love has a future in Green Bay, and there isn’t much of a point running Rodgers out there once the Packers are eliminated. Love may indeed be a dud, but he also could be at worst a solid starting QB. The truth is, while the front office and coaching staff see him in practice, there is no solid answer on who Love is as an NFL QB unless he sees the field.
While many fans don’t want to hear it, the Green Bay Packers should do what is in their best interest once the team is eliminated and start Love. That way, you find out whether there is any point to exercise Love’s 5th year option, if he has trade value, or if you need to consider another QB as soon as the first round of this upcoming 2023 NFL Draft.
There is at least another game or two until this becomes a reality, but the Green Bay Packers should not be entering the 2023 offseason with no clue as to who or what Jordan Love is as a starting NFL QB.