Packers vs Seahawks: Three things I'll be watching for
Green Bay Packers Jarred Bush acknowledges Packers fans before the Green Bay Packers game against the Seattle Seahawks Thursday, September 4, 2014 at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, WA Photo by Mike De Sisti / MDESISTI@JOURNALSENTINEL.COM Image by Mike De Sisti
Here we go! After an off-season full of transactions, training camp, and - in some cases - suspensions, the NFL season is ready to begin. The Packers will travel to the most hostile of territories as they play the Super Bowl champion Seahawks on their home field.
Below are three things I'll be watching for in Thursday night's game.
CENTER OF ATTENTION
Rookie Corey Linsley will make his first career start at center in the loudest stadium in the NFL. Seahawks LB Bruce Irvin said he'd be praying for Linsley adding QUOTE: It's gonna be a long night. Complicating matters for Linsley will be the man opposite him...Brandon Mebane...one of the best nose tackles in the NFL.
There are a few reasons to have confidence in the young center. First, he played in a no-huddle system at a power conference university. In addition, he is a true center - not a conversion project. Finally, he appears to be unflappable.
70...AS IN PLAYS
Mike McCarthy wants an up-tempo offense...he wants to see 70 plus plays. How does one accomplish such a feat? No-huddle, and minimal substitutions. In between plays, watch Aaron Rodgers' hand signals, his feet and his eyes...he won't be trying to yell over the crowd noise...he'll be using non-verbal communication to direct his offense.
When clicking, it's incredible to watch. But tonight figures to be a significant challenge given the Seahawks top ranked defense. I think field position will be of paramount importance, so I don't expect 70 plays of offense - there aren't many teams that can go 85 yards and into the endzone against the Seahawks defense.
POINT OF EMPHASIS
Remember all the penalties called during the pre-season? It was a mess as officials worked to crack down on defensive backs making illegal contact with wide receivers. Some believe this point of emphasis was put in place due to the physical nature of Seattle's defensive backs. The NFL does NOT want to see another 43-8 super bowl.
The Packers starting CB's Sam Shields and Tramon Williams are average size at 5'11". Seattle's starting corners are 6'1 and 6'3 and the starting safety looks like a linebacker at nearly 6'4". I do believe the officials will cool on the flag-throwing, but the crew officiating Thursday night's game threw more penalties for illegal contact last season and during this pre-season, than any other crew.