Packers: A Resurgent Offensive Line Gives Green Bay A Legit Shot at Beating Seattle

When the Green Bay Packers took on the Seahawks in Week 1 of the NFL season, the offensive line wasn’t built to handle Seattle’s overpowering defense. The Packers started a rookie center and early in the game were forced to use a backup right tackle due to injury.

The results at times were disastrous. A sack on a key fourth down given up by a backup tackle. Then later another sack by the same backup Derek Sherrod, that led to a safety which helped Seattle seal the deal. These are the kinds of plays Green Bay must avoid in order to have a shot at the upset.

But now, 16 games later, Green Bay has built one of the best front fives in football and one that is more than up to the challenge on taking on the Seahawks’ fearsome front seven.

The biggest difference between then and now has been the incredible development of rookie center Corey Linsley. The fifth-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft had a pro bowl caliber season and is much more seasoned than at the time of his baptism by fire at C-Link Stadium in the season’s opening game.

In addition to Linsley’s vast improvement, tackles David Bahktiari and Bryan Bulaga have each been stellar. The resurgence of Bulaga has proved to be particularly important and his absence in the first game, which led to Sherrod playing, was a huge factor in Seattle dominating the first time around.

With the center position and both tackle sports solidified, the Packers boast the best offensive line in the Mike McCarthy era. The group also boasts maybe the best guard in football in Josh Sitton and a true enforcer in T.J. Lang.

Lang and the others won’t back down from Seattle and after helping Eddie Lacy average 4.7 yards per carry and keeping Aaron Rodgers incredibly well protected, their confidence is at an all-time high.

The Packers line will need their best game of the season for Green Bay to be successful. The run must be established and Rodgers has to stay clean, particularly with the torn calf.

For years the Packers have been viewed as soft but their offensive line was determined to change that perception. And for the most part, they have done that this season. But a great performance in Sunday’s NFC championship game and a Packer victory would silence the critics once and for all, while finally giving the Green Bay offensive line the credit it deserves.

chris peterson

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4 Comments
PissedoffinAZ

Remember when GB was going for a Super Bowl double in January of 1998? We were heavily favored, and lost. Most fans at least wondered if cockiness played any part. Let’s hope the Seahawks have listened to all the hype and think they cannot be beat. It’s a belief that can be deadly.

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chris peterson

Sadly I do remember 1998. That was s tough loss. I also remember being underdogs against a 14-2 SF team and beating them at candlestick to get back to the Super Bowl. But yea hopefully they will caught reading their own news clippings too much. It will be tough but i know this Packers team will not go quietly into the night. Whatever happens

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Soyo

Agree 100%. The offensive line will determine who wins this game. If they protect Rodgers, he will complete the passes that count.

But that’s not all that’s different from game one.

Defensively, with Clay now shadowing on the inside, he will be in better position help slow Wilson’s running options. Add to that Harvin being gone, and the Packers should be able to generate a bit more coverage time – allowing them to put a greater focus on pocket containment and slowing Seattles running game. While a significant challenge still remains, these factors provide a much improved scenario from game one.

As for the Seattle DB’s, I say Sherman is the one who did the avoiding. Sherman stayed on the right side in the first game because he didn’t want to try to cover Nelson on the left (where he is clearly uncomfortable) and risk looking human in the process. Nelson matches well with him physically and knows how to get into indefensible positions, and Rodgers is capable of placing the ball exactly where it needs to be when he has the time. But more important than that, Seattle now has 2 more Packer receivers to worry about. I say, if it’s Sherman right – then rotate Adams and Nelson on the right side, target them there when you can. Then spread the other 3 (with Cobb in and out of the backfield), and you will create a much bigger challenge for Seattle vs. the 3-receiver ‘one side of the field’ debacle they saw in game one.

Woops, I didn’t forget the improved Lacy did I?? He has turned himself into a much better blocker and a valid receiving option as well over the second half of the season.

So again, it comes back to the offensive line. Protect Rodgers, open a couple holes for Lacy, and I believe the more talented and improving Packers offense will be able to outscore Seattle, even with one leg gimpy. Fail in protection, and all of the other advantages Green Bay comes in with since game one will go for naught, because Rodgers legs won’t be able to save them.

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