One team looked ready to play in the snow on Sunday night and the other looked like they’d rather be anywhere else. The Titans worst performance of the season spoiled an opportunity to go ahead and clinch the AFC South in Week 16 and pushes them to yet another white knuckle finish in the season finale.
There isn’t a ton to be learned from this game in my opinion. We know who this Titans team is. They need to win the turnover battle (or at least draw) and put up 30 or more to have a chance most games and they did neither of those in Green Bay. Sometimes it’s just that simple. So let’s jump into winners and a lot of losers from Packers 40, Titans 14.
Loser: Mike Vrabel
The Titans didn’t look prepared for this game — whether it was the elements or not doesn’t really matter — and that falls on coaching first and foremost. Having that happen in the national TV spotlight against his former offensive coordinator probably doesn’t sit too well with Vrabel right now, and it shouldn’t.
The defense, in particular, continues to be a major problem and that group allowed the Packers to roll up 448 yards of total offense with 234 of that coming on the ground in a gutless effort by the Titans run defense. It’s clear that Vrabel and outside linebackers coach/defensive playcaller Shane Bowen are in over their head trying to run this unit, but that’s a problem that cannot be fixed until the offseason. For now, they at least need to find a way to inspire some sort of effort.
Winner: David Long
The “winners” part of this is going to be short, but Long showed up several times throughout the night and seemed to be one of the few Titans who brought a little fire with them. He’s not perfect by any means, but he’s probably Tennessee’s best linebacker right now.
Loser: Rashaan Evans
That brings me to Evans. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but a dumb Rashaan Evans penalty helped swing this game in Packers direction early on. Evans picked up and illegal use of hands penalty on a 3rd and 10 when it appeared the Titans were set to get off the field on the second drive of the game, giving Green Bay a new set of downs that they’d use to drive down and score again.
Maybe there is an alternate universe version of this game where Evans plays it straight and the Titans settle into the game rather than falling into a huge hole immediately. Unfortunately, we live in the universe where Evans constantly makes boneheaded mistakes and they’re piling up at a rate that far exceeds his positive playmaking.
This is a topic for the offseason, but I don’t see any world where the Titans pick up Evans’ fifth year option for 2022. He’ll be back next year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Tennessee started looking into alternative options at this position.
Winner: Malcolm Butler
Butler came up with his fourth interception of the season in a too little too late play in this game. The turnover didn’t end up mattering, but Butler continues to play well and is one of a very small number of defensive players who is doing so for the Titans this season.
Butler gave up some catches in this game too, but he was a positive overall.
Loser: Adoree’ Jackson
Listen, I feel for Jackson to some degree. Making his first start of the season in the snow against Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams is a tough position to be put in. That being said, Adoree’ got absolutely cooked by Adams, who posted 11 catches for 142 yards and 3 touchdowns on the night. Most of that action appeared to come at Jackson’s expense.
That doesn’t make Adoree’ a bad player, but he had a very rough night. I’m sure he’ll want to bounce back against Houston and look to carry some confidence into the playoffs.
Loser: Ryan Tannehill
This was probably the first very bad performance of Tannehill’s tenure with Tennessee. He finished 11 of 24 for 121 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions and just generally looked uncomfortable throughout the night. Part of that was a good pass rush from Green Bay, but Tannehill was uncharacteristically off even when he did have time in the pocket.
Tannehill’s hands are just nine inches, falling in the 8th percentile among quarterbacks measured at the combine according to Mockdraftable, and that may have had something to do with his poor showing in the snow. Either way, the Titans will need more from him moving forward.
Loser: Titans Pass Protection
While Tannehill was bad independent of his blocking, it’s fair to also mention that the pass blocking was a problem. Whether it was David Quessenberry getting walked back into the pocket or Nate Davis and Dennis Kelly taking turns getting beat on the right side, the Titans simply couldn’t protect their quarterback against a good Packers pass rush.