Looking back, I can’t believe the Packers recovered the opening on side kick. From that point on, they delivered the most dismal, wretched, embarrassing performance I can remember watching since the ’80s. I don’t even know where to begin.
I suppose we should start with the defense, a unit that looked lost and uninspired. Losing Jake Ryan on the opening series didn’t help, but from the first snap they appeared a step behind and unsure of their responsibilities. They’re not tackling, covering or rushing the passer. Other than that, they’re on fire. Clearly, the loss of Clay Matthews has taken a toll. But no one has stepped up. Not Nick Perry or Datone Jones. Not rookie Kyler Fackrell. And definitely not Julius Peppers, who should have ridden off into the sunset after last season.
The defense gave up 351 yards in the first half to an offense that, while hot of late, lacks elite playmakers. The ease with which Delanie Walker got open and then rumbled after catches was alarming. But then, so was the effort by everyone sporting the green and gold on this day. One week after a supposed wake-up call at Lambeau, the Packers took three steps back with a performance that should have no one saying, ‘well at least they’re still just a game out of first place in the North.’
The offense didn’t fare much better. It took them into the second quarter to finally get things going and by then they were down three touchdowns. The return of James Starks did little to ignite the running game and drives were stalled by penalties all afternoon.
The ten penalties were embarrassing, none more than the taunting penalty assessed to Mike Daniels at a point where the Packers were a third down stop away from having a chance to crawl back into things. Instead, a first down gave the drive life and was punctuated by a back-breaking touchdown three plays later. Then there was the muffed punt by Trevor Davis (apparently the Titans should have been flagged on this play for making contact too early). The defense finally forces a three and out and the Pack turns it right over–the Titans score because of course they do–and the game was officially over.
To add injury to insult, the Packers lost three important players and it looks like they might be out for a while. Ryan left early with an ankle injury, then it was TJ Lang’s turn in the second quarter with an ankle. In the third quarter it was David Bakhtiari’s turn to exit with a knee injury, forcing rookie Jason Spriggs to deal with Brian Orakpo. That didn’t end well. The Packers were left with no O line backups on the bench. One more injury would’ve forced a defensive lineman to switch sides.
The reality is the Packers are 4-5, losers of three straight and four of their last five. And there doesn’t appear to be a quick fix available. Sure, they might get Matthews and Damarious Randall back next week, but the last two games have shown us that they are a lost team right now.
When you see a team as uncompetitive as the Packers were on Sunday, it raises all kinds of questions that will be answered in the offseason. Is it time for a coaching change? Is it time for Eliot Wolf to take over for Ted Thompson? This is an organization that prides itself on stability, but to see this kind of effort from a team that was considered a Super Bowl contender six weeks ago, everything needs to be analyzed carefully after these last seven games are played.
Do the Packers have a chance to right the ship and win the division? Sure. Do they look like they can compete with Dallas and Seattle in the playoffs? Um, no. With two straight prime time road games coming up, they’ll have the chance to show the nation just what they’re made of.
After what we witnessed on Sunday, the Skins and Eagles will welcome them to their homes with open arms.