Why not play something close to a 4-4-2-1? I know this doesn’t happen much in professional football (more in high school and college), but if there ever was a time to try to make it work, it might be today. The Titans have two strong runningbacks — Lendale White, who powers the ball up the middle and Chris Johnson who often takes it outside (but is better than he’s given credit for at running inside. Kerry Collins has a wet noodle for an arm and subpar receivers. (How bad? The top receiver, Justin Gage, is someone even the Bears didn’t want. Ouch). To the extent that the Titans have a passing game, it runs through their two tight ends — Alge Crumpler and Bo Scaife.
It’s clear that the priority for the Packer defense will be to stop the run. Of secondary concern will be denying the tight ends space to make plays. They could address both of these — or put themselves in a position to address both of these — by playing all four linebackers at the same time. (Or rotating Atari Bigby in and keeping him in the box.) Yes, it would leave the DBs in man coverage almost exclusively — but that’s what our DBs do best. And we’ve got three of them with Al Harris back. The safety (1) over the top — Nick Collins — could step up to cover a receiver in a three-wide set, though Tennessee doesn’t do that much. Worth a shot, I think.
The Packers would, in effect, try to make Kerry Collins beat them. I’m comfortable with that.
On paper, the matchup doesn’t look great for the Packers, especially given how we’ve struggled against the run. But there are several things in our favor. The Titans played on Monday night, the Packers are coming off of their bye. The Titans are 7-0 and at home, so they’re expected to win. The Packers are the proverbial nothing-to-lose team in this one. If they go down, they’ll be the team we thought they were — a decent but imperfect squad that can compete to win the NFC North but not much more than that. If they win, however, they will get a confidence boost that could pay dividends during the second half of the season.