Football is back! It seemed like this day would never come. At last, we can all stop watching highlights of old NFL games on our computer every day. Wait, am I the only one who does that? Awkwardd…
Anyway, here are some (relatively) quick thoughts I had about tonight’s upcoming game.
Will Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense find a rhythm against an elite defense?
We all know that when Aaron Rodgers is on his game, he makes it look easy. The Packers offense is one of the best in the league, and it usually flows with tempo and rhythm. Yet, it seems like at times, against the better defenses, that that rhythm can be broken. For example, the last three times the Packers played the 49ers, two of which were in the playoffs, the Packers lost, and the offense didn’t look like itself. There were times that Rodgers looked like he didn’t know where to go with the ball; his movements did not look calculated, and big plays could not be found. We saw the same thing against the Bengals last year, and when the Packers went to Seattle during the 2012 season, they scored a measly 12 points. The Packers did produce offense in some of these games, but even when they did, the big plays seemed more random, ie Rodgers running around and escaping pressure before throwing it and/or receivers adjusting to make great catches. We have seen the Giants confuse Rodgers in the playoffs before as well.
Obviously when you play good defenses, such as those of San Francisco or Seattle, the first read is not always going to be there and the offense might not run as smoothly as it would against lesser defenses. I get that, but the best teams play well against the better defenses, and in some of these losses, I’ve seen Rodgers holding the ball for a long time or looking unsure of where to throw it in a way I don’t usually see from Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, or Tom Brady. That is why I sometimes question whether his football IQ is quite at the level of those guys. (Even if it isn’t, he is still very smart.) This is not to say that Rodgers isn’t a top 5 Quarterback or even that he’s not as good as these guys. But it will be interesting to see how the Packers O looks tonight. When big time passing offense goes up against big time defense, defense usually wins, so that’s why I’m skeptical.
What is the Packers’ offensive gameplan?
Obviously we think of the Packers as a passing offense, but Eddie Lacy looked very good last year. Now that they have a capable back, are they going to try to run the ball more? Will they try to be more balanced? They will still be a hurry up/shotgun offense, but it will be interesting to see if they’re going to try to commit to running it a bit this year.
How will tempo affect the game?
We’ve heard that the Packers want to go faster and run more plays this year. However, this can be tough to do against good defenses, and you often see hurry up teams slowing it down a bit when they face the better defenses. The Seahawks D line was great at getting pressure on the Quarterback last year. Can the Packers use tempo to tire out the line and negate the rush? Furthermore, how will Rodgers communicate at the line in Seattle, one of, if not the, loudest place to play in the NFL? Will it be through mostly hand signals? Will the noise play a factor? It will be very interesting to see how successful the hurry up can be against this defense. The downside always is, if you’re running hurry up but getting three and outs, you’re going to tire out your defense and give the opposing offense a lot of possessions.
What will the Seahawks game plan be offensively?
This stuff changes from game to game so you can’t draw too many conclusions from one game, especially the first, but it will be interesting to see if the Seahawks throw it more tonight than they have in the past. Last year they were a run first play action team, with the occasional quick throw, ie slant/screen. There wasn’t a lot of progression reading for Wilson, and Seattle was second to last in passing attempts last year in the regular season. Percy Harvin adds a dimension to the Seahawks passing game. With that in mind and with Wilson entering his third year, the Seahawks might want to open up the playbook a bit. Then again, the question with Percy Harvin is if he can stay healthy, which has always been an issue for him. Also, will Marshawn Lynch continue to get most of the carries, or will they split it up a bit? Lastly, keep an eye on Jermaine Kearse, who made some great plays last year and could be a big playmaker for the Seahawks this season. There’s always the strong possibility of a breakout year for second year receivers with potential. Learning the intricacies of NFL offenses and route running can make it tough for receivers to shine right out of college.
Low scoring or high scoring?
I tend to think low scoring with the Seahawks, but it will be interesting to see if their defense is as good as it was last year. If it’s even close to that point, they could honestly go on another run. With most Superbowl winning teams, there are a lot of things that go right in the playoffs, usually close games and/or a lot of lucky bounces of the ball. But with the Seahawks, it really looked like there was a huge margin for error on their part. With home field in the playoffs, they seem unbeatable. The Seahawks remind me a lot of the early 2000s patriots: Crazy good defense with a lot of depth, awesome home field advantage, and a tightly controlled (doesn’t throw a lot or run a very complex pass game) but very fun to watch young quarterback that came from late in the draft whose tangibles are lacking (Brady-Arm/Speed, Wilson-Height) but whose intangibles and “leadership” drive people crazy (eye roll). Both are also considered “winners” (another eye roll). Remember, the 2001 Pats also beat a record setting offense in the Superbowl, and both Brady that year and Wilson last year had below average postseasons. Lots of similarities. Could Seattle be the next dynasty?
Well, that’s just about it. Now for the love of God, let’s sit back relax, and WATCH SOME FOOTBALL!!!!!