Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, December 25, 2020

Leaky defense must slow potent offense

The Titans head to the proverbial Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field for a rare Sunday Night prime-time game, one circled as a highlight of the season since the 2020 schedule was announced.

In years past, any Titans game that wound up Sunday night was due to flex scheduling by the league. But this appearance is by design, and it will be a big order for the Titans to try and fill against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.

First down

Think along with Matt LaFleur. LaFleur was the Titans offensive coordinator for one season only – 2018, Mike Vrabel’s first year as head coach – before he bolted for Green Bay to become the Packers head coach.

While LaFleur was only in Nashville for one year, he left his mark, most notably in that the system he installed is still primarily what Arthur Smith has perfected with Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee. That said, Vrabel, as the Titans de facto defensive coordinator, will have to be sharp to match wits with LaFleur, even though they know his system and his style.

Second down

Get some pressure somehow, someway. Aside from his insurance advertising partner Patrick Mahomes, Rodgers is about as good as it gets as an NFL quarterback.

Rodgers won’t scramble and make something out of nothing as often as Mahomes, but he is still makes the offense go.

The Titans, who have had pass-rush issues all season, have to find creative ways to at least disrupt Rodgers’ rhythm on occasion. Otherwise, it will be a long night for the Tennessee defense.

Third down

Use offense to benefit defense. The Titans have shown they have quick-strike ability, just like the Packers do. They have scored 40 points now five times this season and are coming off a season-high 46 against the Lions.

But the more prudent path might be to control the clock with Derrick Henry and use shorter passes from Ryan Tannehill to win time of possession. While explosive plays are always welcome, scoring points shouldn’t be a problem for the Titans.

The more they can control the ball and the clock, the fewer opportunities they give Rodgers to hurt them.

Fourth down

Don’t blink first. It is probably going to be cold in Green Bay. And even though there won’t be the usual raucous capacity crowd of cheeseheads on hand, the Titans can ill-afford to make mistakes with turnovers or botched special teams issues. The kicking game seems to have been straightened out in recent weeks. The onus is on Stephen Gostkowski to stay in a good groove in a very important game.