The Seattle Seahawks are facing arguably their toughest opponent of the year this weekend. Come Monday night, the Green Bay Packers will be squaring off with Seattle in CenturyLink for some Monday Night Football action.
There is no shortage of story lines in this one as both teams have lots to prove early on in the season.
Last week, Seattle looked great against Dallas. Several players stepped up as needed, and the team worked together to shock the Cowboys 27-7. The Seahawks are looking to carry that momentum into Monday night’s game.
In order to carry that momentum, several Seahawks players will have to step up and play out of their minds. Green Bay is no easy task, to say the least.
Here are my 5 players who must impress against Green Bay on Monday Night Football.
Russell Wilson has done just about everything the Seahawks have asked him so far. Yes, he has had a few accuracy mistakes, but that’s to be expected from a rookie starting quarterback with a shaky offensive line. He has gone out, controlled the game, and allowed the game plan to unfold like it should.
Pete Carroll is not looking for Wilson to go out and throw for 300+ yards per game as this is a run based offense. However, Wilson will have to step it up this week against a solid Packers team who are still one of the favorites to represent the NFC in this year’s Super Bowl.
The game plan will be the same, rush it down the Packer’s throats. But what will be different this game is that Wilson will have to make some big plays in order to keep the running game intact. He will be facing an insane pass rush from the NFL‘s leader in sacks, Clay Matthews, and several other stellar Packer defenders.
He will need to have much better reads, much quicker reads, and a quick release to avoid taking the sacks Matthews will be looking to add to his total.
He will also have to be careful in the secondary, because Charles Woodson is always lurking and Tramon Williams is getting better seemingly by the game.
If Wilson is quick and accurate, this game could easily swing in the Seahawks favor.
There are two keys for Russell Okung in this game. First, he needs to stay healthy. He has been injured off and on throughout his time in Seattle and needs to figure out a way to stay healthy. He is arguably the best blocker on the offensive line (when he’s healthy) and the Seahawks absolutely need him to do what he does best in this one.
Second, he needs to be effective. As mentioned before, Clay Matthews will be zeroing in on Wilson and Okung will need to be a big part of keeping his QB standing up.
Matthews will come from several angles on the field and will be a force, but if Okung can maintain his composure, stay healthy and not allow the pass rush to get through him, he will have done his part.
Chris Clemons & Bruce Irvin
The Seahawks pass rush is one of the worst in the NFL right now. While the rest of their defense ranks in the top 5 and top 10 in several categories, the Seahawks desperately need sacks. They need sacks to legitimize the claim that they are one of the top defenses in the NFL, but they also need the sacks to win games.
I know it makes too much sense, but you would be surprised.
The combo of Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin absolutely HAVE to hit Aaron Rodgers. Even if they don’t get the sacks, they need to hit him, they need to knock him down. Football 101, folks – when the quarterback is rattled, he makes mistakes. And that’s what the Seahawks have been missing.
If they don’t get pressure on Rodgers and he has lots of time in the pocket, he will absolutely pick this team apart. A rule of thumb…no matter how good your defense is, a defender is most effective within the first 5 seconds of a play. After that, the receiver typically finds a way to get open.
That’s how Rodgers dominates.
Jason Jones will be a big help as well as Red Bryant whose pass rush has really improved since last season.
I know I harp on this every week, but it continues to be the second biggest issue on this defense. An issue that can lose you games if you’re not careful. As I have stated a million times, the linebacking corps is exceptional at making tackles and on run defense. But they leave the middle of the field wide open a lot of the time.
You cannot make a mistake like that against a team of Green Bay’s caliber. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are arguably the best slot receivers these Seahawks will face this year and they absolutely dominate the middle of the field.
Keep in mind they also have Jermichael Finely who is clutch when it comes to short yardage passes over the middle.
In order to stop this, the linebackers must step up their press defense and get these slot receivers out of their rhythm. If not, Rodgers will be completing a lot of short passes and will march down the field every time.
I know this sounds funny, but Marshawn Lynch will have to be impressive in this one. It is true that he always finds a way to get his, but he is really going to have to earn it in this one. The Seahawks running game keeps them in games and gives them the edge in most contests.
Green Bay will be game planning for that and Lynch will need to creative in how he racks up his yardage in this game.
Beast Mode will need to set the tone for the offense and run extra physical against a big Green Bay defensive front that will be eager to collide with him.