The league’s leading sacks team might be forced to take a more conservative approach to rushing the passer on Monday night in Seattle.
“When you’re playing a team that’s going laterally and you’re (blitzing), there are going to be seams. If you’re an upfield, penetrating defense, you’re probably going to have trouble with their running game,” Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers said on Saturday, as the Packers put the finishing touches to their preparation for their game against the Seattle Seahawks.
The Seahawks are the league’s No. 7 rushing team, behind Marshawn Lynch’s 207 yards through the first two weeks of the season. As the Seahawks grow with a rookie at quarterback, Lynch and the running game is Head Coach Pete Carroll’s team’s calling card.
“If you have some softness in your gap, he’ll hit it coming downhill,” Capers said of Lynch.
The Seahawks employ a stretch-blocking scheme similar to the one the Denver Broncos used to produce several thousand-yard rushers. Lynch would seem to be a perfect fit for the Seahawks’ scheme.
“It’s a similar scheme. They get your defense running laterally. Lynch can plant that foot coming downhill,” Capers said.
Seattle neutralized the Cowboys’ pass rush last week by forcing the Cowboys to respect Lynch and the Seahawks’ stretch play, for fear of getting caught inside and allowing Lynch the cutback lanes he seeks.
“You have to be disciplined with your rushing lanes. They dictated to the Cowboys (rush) with their running game,” Capers said.
The Packers have sacked the quarterback a league-leading 11 times through the first two games of the season, and linebacker Clay Matthews tops the league’s list of pass rushers with six sacks.
“You try to move him around so it’s hard for offenses to spot where he’s going to be,” Capers said of Matthews. “The first thing offenses have to do is they have to account for where he is.”
The Seahawks will likely run away from Matthews’ side of the field, and the Packers’ ability to stop Lynch and force the Seahawks to pass will go a long way in deciding the outcome of this game.
Rookie quarterback Russell Wilson’s stats – the Seahawks are No. 32 in the league in passing – aren’t as impressive as his overall performance has been through the first two starts of his career. He’s managed the game and played to the Seahawks’ strengths, and he’s used his mobility to escape trouble.
“He’ll scramble to throw the ball. That’s where you have to be careful. He can buy time for the receivers,” Capers said of Wilson.
Packers Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements’ concern is for a young and talented Seahawks secondary in the league’s No. 6 defense. The play of Seattle’s secondary is especially impressive when you consider that it’s played without much of a pass rush. The Seahawks have only two sacks in two games.
“They’re energetic. They fly around. They rally to the ball. They’re a good defense and they’ll be a big challenge for us,” Clements said.
One of the Packers’ goals on offense will be to eliminate the dropped passes that have plagued them, dating back to last season’s playoff loss to the Giants.
“You put the attention back on the fundamentals of it, beginning with hand placement and looking the ball in, and then advancing the football,” Wide Receivers Coach Edgar Bennett said. “You see the production we had in practice and it’s evident what we’re capable of doing.”' Additional coverage - Sept. 22