We May Need to Wait Another Week to See the "Packer Offense"Posted:Sep 21st, 2012 9:49 pm
21 points. That's the target. Score 21 points Monday night and you win. Under Peter Carroll the Seahawks are 1-15 when their opponents score 21 or more. Ok, 21 points. Sounds simple enough. But after watching the Seahawks' first two games, we may need the defense to kick in with some points to help us get there.
Say what you want about Carroll, he's a great defensive coach and has built a unit that boasts three Pro Bowlers in the secondary. Two of them, CB Brandon Browner (6'4") and S Kam Chancellor (6'3") are really tall and physical. S Earl Thomas may not have the height but is a big hitter who earned a Pro Bowl spot in his second year.
With the Pack's offense struggling to find a rhythm, the road gets no easier in Seattle, always considered the loudest outdoor venue in the league. They're historically great on Monday Night Football too: 17-8 all time, that's tops in the NFL. They've won their last five, three of them shutouts. The place will be rocking and Rodgers and McCarthy will be challenged to rely on one of #12's strengths: using his cadence to confuse the defense. It will be bedlam in there. Throw in the hybrid 4-3 and 3-4 looks Seattle shows you on defense and the offense will need to be ready.
The good news is the Packers have had 11 days to prepare. They watched the defensive slugfest in Arizona, where the Cards blitzed rookie Russell Wilson relentlessly and he was never comfortable. Then they saw the Cowboys sit back, see if their pass rushers could get to Wilson without blitzing and the rookie looked more comfortable, made no mistakes and let Marshawn Lynch lead the way. Big plays on special teams and defense made things easier.
Greg Jennings did not practice on Friday and looks like he'll miss another game. Randall Cobb has also been limited in practice with a hamstring injury. So the offense is not running on all cylinders and will need the production it got from Cedric Benson in the Bears game. Benson needs 20 touches in this game for the Packers offense to do its thing. Play action was back in business against Chicago and needs to be in play against the aggressive 'Hawks.
Many of us had hoped Ted Thompson would part with a third round pick a couple of years ago and acquire Lynch, thinking that as a college teammate of Rodgers the chemistry would be there and Lynch would resurrect his career. Thompson passed and Lynch is now the focal point of the Seattle offense.
The Packers defense will give us a truer glimpse of where they are on Monday night. The tackling and rushing defense was strong last week, forcing Cutler and the Bears into long down and distance and we all know how well Cutler handled that. Russell Wilson is making his third career start and is learning on the job. Those that have followed him (and that includes all of you Badger fans) know that he has great leadership qualities, burns to be great and has captivated the organization. But if Lynch is bottled up, he'll be forced to make some plays in the air and the ball-hawking Packer defense will be waiting.
We saw what a difference a week can make. After one week the defense looked overmatched. A week later it was dominant against a supposed playoff contender. Now it gets the up and coming Seahawks who will get their prime time chance to show the world that the 49ers won't have a cakewalk through the West this season.
Here are a couple intangibles working in the Pack's favor: the 11 day break is almost an early bye week, giving players much needed added time to get their bodies ready. Mike McCarthy has never lost a road opener. He knows how to get the team ready and in the right frame of mind away from home.
Both teams will run the ball a little bit, but Rodgers will make more plays--look for Jermichael Finley to step up and make a couple of big plays (it still won't feel like the "Packer Offense," but don't sweat it. We'll get that next week when the Saints come to town). And look for the defense to force Russell Wilson into a couple of mistakes.
It kind of feels like the Giants-Panthers game on Thursday night. Home underdog ready to strut its stuff in prime time gets put in its place. A reminder that its time may be coming, but not on this night, against this team.
Packers 23 Seattle 16