GREEN BAY—Packers Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements was asked a question about dealing with the noise at CenturyLink Field.
“What?” Clements said, leaning forward and holding his hand to his ear.
After a summer of blaring music and jet engine-like crowd noise pulsing from the giant speakers parked along the Packers practice fields, Clements’ attempt at humor was to the point. Noise has become a way of life for the Packers.
“It’s an element you have to deal with,” Clements said. “The best thing to get the noise down is to eliminate big plays on their part and, when you get the ball, move it.”
There’s the Packers’ game plan for Thursday night in Seattle: Eliminate big plays on defense and move the ball on offense.
“I don’t remember it being so loud,” Clements said of the Packers’ last visit to Seattle, in 2012. You might remember the game. It had a quirky ending. “They make noise but it’s not that different from other places.”
That was then and this is now. Then, the Seahawks were a team on the rise. The Seahawks against whom the Packers will open the season on Thursday are the reigning Super Bowl champions. Everything in Seattle has gotten a little louder since the Packers’ last trip to the Great Northwest.
“They’re a different team. They’re a better team,” Clements said.
The Seahawks are a team built on powerful, suffocating defense. They embarrassed Peyton Manning and the NFL’s No. 1 offense in the Super Bowl. Clements fully appreciates the challenge confronting his offense.
“They have talent; they know their scheme. They don’t do a lot of things, but what they do they do well. They fly to the ball,” Clements said of the Seahawks.
Coach Pete Carroll was well into the process of assembling a premier defense when the Packers lost in Seattle on Sept. 24, 2012. What wasn’t known at that time was whether or not the Seahawks had a quarterback that could lead them to a title. They did.
“They’re much improved,” Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers said. “It starts with the quarterback. He has Super Bowl-winning experience. He’s one of the best in the league at extending plays. He has very good vision downfield. He’s much improved since the last time we played them.”
Russell Wilson was in only his third pro start back then. He turned in a rather pedestrian performance that night, but that was forgotten when Wilson’s last-play, “Hail Mary” pass for Golden Tate was ruled a catch. As proof of Capers’ point, Wilson dramatically outplayed Peyton Manning in Super Bowl XLVIII.
“In the Super Bowl, he was a tremendous impact in that game. They’ve expanded the offense,” Capers said.
At the heart of what the Seahawks do is a punishing running game that attempts to force opponents to overload against it. When that happens, the Seahawks turn to their play-action passing game in an attempt to make big plays downfield.
“He’s the perfect runner for their scheme,” Capers said of Marshawn Lynch. “They have a zone, downhill running scheme. He’s always moving his feet.”
Packers Special Teams Coordinator Shawn Slocum’s special concern is kickoff returner Percy Harvin.
“He’s the real deal. Explosive guy; good player,” Slocum said.
Slocum confirmed Randall Cobb is the Packers’ No. 1 punt returner, but he is likely to share that role in some part with Micah Hyde.
“I’m excited about playing. We put a lot of work in. Our goal is to go 1-0,” Slocum said.