Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks: Sketching out a Game Plan for Green Bay
This may come down to which offense gets going first and which defense can make the biggest plays.
Add in the (in)famous 12th Man in Seattle and it's bound to be a raucous game, and a lot closer than I had originally thought.
Let's take a look at how the Packers should approach this one.
When the Packers are on Offense
The Packers need to get going early. They need to figure out what has been the hiccup in their game plan and fix it.
More specifically, they need to get Aaron Rodgers and his receivers on the same page. The hubbub between Rodgers and James Jones was the visible one, but there have been a few times where it was clear his receivers weren't where Rodgers expected them to be the first two weeks of the season.
There are times when the unit just seems out of sync.
To counter this, they need to get off to that hot start. I'd say some short plays to guys like Jones, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb should help, and getting them involved early will get their head in the game and cut down on drops.
Jermichael Finley needs to be involved as well, for virtually the same reason.
With Greg Jennings' status unknown for Monday, the Packers will have to utilize all their weapons. Even with Jennings, it'd be a safe bet they would spread the ball out anyway.
The Seahawks defense is good, not great. They do get pressure on opposing quarterbacks but don't often get sacks (just two so far this year).
The short passes to start will disrupt anything they get going—mix it in with some work by running back Cedric Benson and you've probably got the front seven on its heels.
This isn't to say Rodgers shouldn't go long. In fact, once they knock the rust off, I'd say a few deep balls to Nelson would be very effective.
Ideally, the Packers want to run out to a lead. It doesn't have to be big, but enough to force the Seahawks to throw the ball themselves, rather than have Marshawn Lynch run it.
When the Packers are on Defense
Primarily the Packers want to do two things. First, shut down Marshawn Lynch, and second, get Russell Wilson under pressure and moving out of the pocket.
Lynch is likely to be the focal point of Seattle's game plan offensively, as their rookie quarterback is still a bit raw. Lynch is a punishing runner with a combination of raw strength and game-breaking ability.
The middle of the defensive front—guys like Ryan Pickett, A.J. Hawk (who is playing well so far) and D.J. Smith—will have to work hard to contain him. The secondary will need to lend a hand as well, though the hope would be that Lynch won't make it to the second level.
It will be up to Clay Matthews and a rotation of Eric Walden, Brad Jones and Nick Perry to get after Wilson in the pocket. Matthews is on a tear right now, and you can bet Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll will have the offensive line keying on him.
I expect they will hold in a tight end or fullback Michael Robinson to help shut Matthews down, so it's up to the other linebackers and defensive ends to get penetration and attack Wilson.
Make him uncomfortable and he will make mistakes. It doesn't help that the receivers he has haven't exactly been lighting up the league right now, though tight end Anthony McCoy had a great game last week against Dallas.
If they get pressure on Wilson, they will also want to keep an eye on McCoy in case the rookie quarterback looks to him as an outlet.
I would expect that if they cannot get to Wilson—and the offensive line shut down DeMarcus Ware last week, so it's not unthinkable—then he will test the secondary.
It really comes down to pressure—if they get help from the front seven, they are much more effective. On the upside, Tramon Williams looks to be back to his old self and Charles Woodson has been effective switching between safety and cornerback.
They definitely outclass the wide receivers in terms of talent, as long as Wilson doesn't have all day to throw the ball. Even the best coverage can only hang on for so long.
The Packers need to come out quick and hard right away. They need to bottle up Lynch (no small task) and force Wilson to throw, ideally under pressure.
After a big win against a division rival, there's no way Green Bay wants to slip up and lose. The Seahawks have shown they are no pushovers.
If the Packers start slow and don't get pressure on the quarterback, they may find themselves with a serious fight on their hands.
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