GREEN BAY – The Packers will be facing the ultimate stop-the-run challenge this Sunday when they face Seahawks star running back Marshawn Lynch.
“He’s their tempo setter. He’s a violent runner. You can’t ever relax. You have to get that second and third (tackler) in there,” Packers Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers said in previewing Sunday’s game and the challenge the Packers defense is facing.
The Packers lost starting inside linebacker Sam Barrington to a season-ending ankle injury early in the team’s opening-day win in Chicago. Barrington was replaced by Nate Palmer, who led the Packers in tackles with seven.
“We’ve got some young guys that have to step up,” Capers said. “Nate Palmer stepped up and did a good job. He’s going to have to play well this week. Clay’s (Matthews) role in there becomes even more important.”
Lynch ran for 157 yards against the Packers in the Seahawks’ come-from-behind win in last January’s NFC title game. Forty-five of those rushing yards came in the Seahawks’ final two drives of the fourth quarter; Lynch also caught a 26-yard pass from quarterback Russell Wilson in the first of those two drives.
“They’ve got difference-makers in Lynch and Wilson, and now (Jimmy) Graham. We’ve played well in stretches and we’ve got to finish. Until the last five minutes, we played as well as we had the whole season,” Capers said of last January’s game.
The Packers intercepted Wilson three times and held him to 12 yards passing and a 0.0 passer rating in the first half of that NFC title game; that’s how dominant the Packers defense was. The final 3:52 of the game, however, belonged to Wilson and Lynch. Wilson finished the game having thrown four interceptions, one touchdown and for a 44.3 passer rating.
“He has the ability to buy time and extend plays. You have to be accountable for him keeping the ball,” Capers said of defending against Wilson’s scrambling ability.
The Seahawks traded for Graham in the offseason. He gives them a field-stretching tight end.
“It becomes a matchup issue at times,” Capers said of the 6-7 Graham.
“The Rams did a nice job of finishing things off and making the big play at the end. That’s what you have to do in this league,” Capers added, referring to the Seahawks’ 34-31 loss on opening day in St. Louis.
Offensively, the Packers will be facing one of the premier defenses in the league.
“They’re very sound. They’re well coached. They don’t do a ton of things schematically, but what they do they do well,” Packers Associate Head Coach and play-caller Tom Clements said of the Seahawks defense.
The 34 points they allowed in St. Louis?
“Early in the season, you’re in the process of establishing your identity,” Clements said.
The Seahawks are also in the process of playing through the holdout of star safety Kam Chancellor.
“He’s a great player. If a great player isn’t there, it can have an effect,” Clements said.
Special Teams Coordinator Ron Zook was Shawn Slocum’s assistant when two special teams plays – a fake field goal that resulted in a touchdown and an onside kick that was recovered by the Seahawks – cost the Packers dearly in that title game.
“Other than for those two plays, it was the best we played all year,” Zook said.
Click here for all Packers-Seahawks news