What We Saw: Titans at Packers

King Henry reigns in Green Bay by doing a bit of everything...

Titans @Β Packers

Final Score: Titans 27, Packers 17

Senior Writer: Benjamin Haller (@benjaminhaller1 on Twitter)

 

With the flurries of snow swirling around under the lights at Lambeau Field, it was a perfect if not romantic night for football as the Green Bay Packers had their season on the line in a home bout against the improving Tennessee Titans. After a statement win over the Cowboys, Aaron Rodgers was hoping to build upon a promising week connecting with rookie Christian Watson. The Titans were out to spoil the night, however, with a fit again Ryan Tannehill coming out of the blocks firing darts.

An impressive 8-play drive finishing in a touchdown to open the game included Tannehill finding another rookie looking to impress after a slow start to his career – Treylon Burks. This beautiful throw was hauled in after Burks created separation and found himself open downfield for a 35-yard gain.

 

The Packers struggled to move the ball early in the game but a chunk play to the returning Randall Cobb gave them a chance just before the end of the first quarter. Just when the Titans thought Rodgers was going to let the clock run out, the Packers quickly rushed to the line of scrimmage and caught the Titans with 12 men on the field on third and long – as he has done countless times, Rodgers threw it up for someone to make a play. Guess who? Three-score hero in Week 10 Christian Watson, of course.

 

The Packers then stopped Henry on a fourth and short from their own 4-yard line after the Titans ate up the clock to wisely slow down the game and keep Rodgers off the field in the cold. A huge play at a crucial point in the game.

 

The Titans were relentless in pressuring Rodgers near his own goal line and an intentional grounding call backed up the Packers, who had to punt from their own 1-yard line giving the Titans great field position to add to their lead before the half. Starting at the Green Bay 41-yard line, Tannehill connected twice with Robert Woods to setup a genuine scoring opportunity once again. Burks was stopped short on a route underneath before Henry ploughed in for a score, finally finding a hole in a Packers defensive front that fought hard against the run. The Titans went into the half with a strong 14-6 lead at the half.

 

The Titans executed brilliant back-to-back touchdown drives at the start of the third quarter to build a two-score lead and for once Rodgers could not respond, turning the ball over on downs twice in the final quarter. A huge play from Henry set the tone for the Titans.

 

The Packers did have opportunities to come back into the game – the final quarter was an up-and-down affair as injury stoppages and stuttering drives prevented either team from making great headway. Ryan Tannehill launched a brilliant 55-yard bomb approaching the two-minute warning to seal the deal. What a throw!

 

It was all about the victory handshakes on the sidelines for Mike Vrabel and his impressive Titans unit. They roll on atop the AFC South with seven wins, but is effectively season-over for Green Bay.

 

Tennessee Titans

 

Quarterback

 

Ryan Tannehill: 22/27, 333 Yards, 2 TD, INT, 3 Sacks | 3 Carries, -3 Yards

 

After a decisive first drive of the game that resulted in a touchdown, Ryan Tannehill seemed to gain confidence as the game went along. He used a heavy dose of play action when not handing the ball off for Derrick Henry to run. Tannehill was productive throwing on first down, allowing Henry to do the rest to move the chains. Tannehill’s accuracy and proficiency was on show in a mammoth 18-play, 62-yard drive that chewed up 10 minutes and 6 seconds of the second quarter. Sadly, the Packers stuffed Henry near the goal line and the Packers took over on downs. However, the second half performance made up for it as Tannehill executed pass after pass, averaging 12.3 yards per attempt while connecting eight different pass catchers to produce his first 300+ yard game of the season. The perfect time to do it. This dart to Hooper for the game-deciding score was inch perfect.

 

The quarterback’s only indiscretion was a needless, risky throw into coverage on second and short at a time in the fourth quarter when the Packers could potentially stage a comeback. Under no pressure in the pocket, Tannehill forced a ball towards Burks but there were three Packers defensive backs in the region. A poor mistake.

 

Tannehill is a valuable fantasy asset down the stretch as the Titans become a more balanced offense. He is only rostered in 16% of Yahoo! leagues. His chemistry with Burks, Woods and Hooper offers a lot of promise. Remember when Nick Westbrook-Ikhine was leading this offense? That was last week.

 

Running Back

 

Derrick Henry: 2/2, 4 Yards, TD | 28 Carries, 87 Yards, TD | 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 45 Yards

Dontrell Hilliard: 1 Carry, 4 Yards | 1 Target, 1 Reception, 14 Yards, TD

 

Before hitting pay dirt at the end of the first half, Derrick Henry was restricted to just 42 yards on 16 carries as fantasy managers sweated another below-average fantasy week from the power rusher. However, the run at the end of the half settled the nerves and put the Titans in a nice position to lean on Henry for the rest of the contest. And on the first drive of the second half, Henry had fantasy managers smiling after a huge catch-and-run for 35 yards followed by a beautiful jump-pass to Austin Hooper for a touchdown. All hail the King!

 

Henry totalled 32 touches all up and registered his sixth 20+ fantasy point game of the season. And the way the Titans offense is coming together at the business end of the season bodes well for fantasy managers down the stretch. He is a rushing phenom.

It was the ever-unheralded running back that made an impression early, however. After a consistent season maximizing limited touches Dontrell Hilliard was a non-factor last week, but an early catch and run in his first involvement in the game proved to be the right play call in the red zone.Side note – he only mustered one more touch the rest of the way.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Treylon Burks: 8 Targets, 7 Receptions, 111 Yards

Robert Woods: 7 Targets, 6 Receptions, 69 Yards

Austin Hooper: 4 Targets, 4 Receptions, 36 Yards, 2 TD

Chigoziem Okonkwo: 2 Targets, 1 Reception, 31 Yards

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine: 2 Targets, 2 Receptions, 28 Yards

Geoff Swaim: 1 Target, 1 Reception, 3 Yards

 

It was a coming out party for rookie Treylon Burks, who made grabs at the start and end of the game to propel the Titans to victory. The rookie has battled injuries and lack of involvement in a so-far underwheming rookie campaign, however this showing will go a long way to pricking the ears of fantasy managers going forward. Burks showed good knowledge of the playbook, an ability to create separation, and a desire to go up against cornerbacks to win in the contest. This sequence for the game-ending catch is a showreel of his abilities – burst of the line, commitment to the route, working off expecting contact, safe hands and fighting for yards after the catch.

 

Tight end Austin Hooper, once a sought-after fantasy asset from his days in Cleveland, made a couple of crucial catches to move the chains in the two scoring drives in the first half and then made a great catch in coverage for the Titans’ second passing score. His involvement comes as a little surprising and his touchdown grabs were his first two of the season. To hint of anything more going forward is hopeful but in a barren fantasy TE landscape it is worth monitoring.

A mention must go to veteran Robert Woods, who played his heart out for his team today and made a number of key grabs on third downs in the second half. Woods hasn’t seen the volume of a WR2 but this showing was more like what he saw from him in L.A. – his six catches were a season high.

 

Green Bay Packers

 

Quarterback

 

Aaron Rodgers: 24/39, 227 Yards, 2 TD, 1 Sack

 

It was a poor night for Aaron Rodgers with the football. Coming off the back of an epic comeback against the Cowboys, the prospect of facing a Titans team giving up the sixth most fantasy points to quarterbacks was a promising one. With Cobb back, Watson emerging and favorite Lazard shrugging off injury, Rodgers had a lot of weapons at his disposal.Β  He seemed to thrive in intermediate routes throughout, peppering Cobb and Lazard with targets, but anything shorter or deeper than that simply failed to hit the mark.

 

He didn’t have too many issues in the red zone, however, finding Watson for both his passing scores. The only trouble is that he didn’t have many return trips to try and pull his team back in the contest. 23.08 fantasy points is nothing to scoff at though. This is Rodgers’ ceiling about now though. Is it good enough for fantasy managers going forward? I hope so.

 

Running Back

 

Aaron Jones: 12 Carries, 40 Yards | 7 Targets, 6 Receptions, 20 Yards

AJ Dillon: 6 Carries, 13 Yards | 1 Target, 1 Reception, 10 Yards

 

The Packers came up against a stout Titans run defense so it was a healthy split between Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon to try and get things moving in the first half. Jones nearly coughed up a fumble at the end of the first half but Randall Cobb dived in to recover it at the last minute when it looked like a turnover.

 

Jones was featured heavily early in the second half and contributed on both Packers scoring drives in the third quarter. This nice pitch-and-catch allowed Jones to use his elusiveness and speed and it was one of the rare moments he had to break off a big play.

 

But Jones was limited to a successful 2-point conversion attempt for his only score involvement of the night, taking a jet-sweep into the end zone. Disappointingly, Jones plodded on to the tune of just 3.3 yards per touch, his night finishing in a chorus of boos with the Packers’ second failure to convert on fourth down effectively ending their resistance. Jeffrey Simmons with the big stop.

 

AJ Dillon disappeared after half time and his fruitless season in fantasy continues to haunt managers in deeper leagues.

 

Wide Receiver/Tight End

 

Randall Cobb: 6 Targets, 6 Receptions, 73 Yards, 1 Fumble (Recovered)

Allen Lazard: 11 Targets, 5 Receptions, 57 Yards

Christian Watson: 1 Carry, 3 Yards | 6 Targets, 4 Receptions, 48 Yards, 2 TD

Robert Tonyan: 4 Targets, 2 Receptions, 19 Yards

Sammy Watkins: 2 Targets

 

Another week, another impact from second-round rookie Christian Watson, who went up and grabbed himself a touchdown on a free play. The desire and hunger will endear this young man to the Packers faithful. A great angle of the catch here. Watson now has five touchdowns in his last two games but still trailed Cobb and Allen Lazard in targets and catches.

 

The returning Randall Cobb made an instant impact in the first quarter, making a great grab on the touchdown drive and recovering a fumble to ensure the Packers stayed with the Titans early. He is the safety blanket and will see plenty of touches but don’t expect WR3 output in terms of fantasy.

 

Allen Lazard didn’t have many opportunities down near the end zone in this one as most of his targets came on early downs in the Packers’ own territory. Add that to the fact that the Titans chewed up much of the clock. He did drop a pass in the middle of the field at a crucial stage at the end of the first half. The ball was thrown slightly behind the receiver but he got both hands on it and should have hauled it on. He also got his hands on one ball in the end zone. 11 targets is great news in terms of potential but Lazard still needs to make the plays. He lack of burst off the line and speed to finish still hamper him.

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