The Seattle Seahawks begin the long journey towards hopeful Super Bowl glory with a difficult matchup on the road against the experienced Green Bay Packers. In many ways, the Seahawks could not have scheduled a more difficult opener. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is one of the most experienced veterans in the game, and Lambeau Field is one of the most intimidating venues in all of sports.
Many analysts will favor the Packers in this game, but there are many reasons the Seahawks should be considered the favorite. While experience and home field advantage favor Green Bay, pure talent is on Seattle’s side. Here is what the Seahawks must do to win the game, and all games going forward.
Week One Seattle Seahawks Keys To Victory
1. Establish the Short Game
Seattle needs to favor short passes and high percentage rushing plays. The Seahawks often struggle when they attempt to gain long yardage all at once. Running plays that require more time to develop, like sweeps up the sidelines, seldom prove successful. For passing plays, the struggling offensive line often does not allow receivers enough time to run complex routes far downfield.
Running back Thomas Rawls has proven to be a dominant rusher when he is healthy, and likely will begin the season as the starter. As a power running back, he is the ideal candidate for simple draw plays straight up the middle. The Seahawks are one of the few NFL teams that still use a fullback to help block. They will likely use the services of fullback Tre Madden to help clear a path for Rawls and the team’s multiple running backs.
Next, head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell must decide how to utilize the team’s other talented tailbacks. In an interesting plot twist, the Packers will play without running back Eddie Lacy because he now plays for their opponent. The Seahawks have many options at this position, and must decide how they will balance many competing interests.
Lacy could possibly play the role of a third down back, entering the game when the team only needs to pick up a couple yards. As a power running back, however, Rawls is the most logical choice for third-and-short, or fourth-and-short situations. Lacy may actually prove most effective on first down, where he can try to turn the corner and find running room up the sideline.
The Seahawks will also try to utilize the talents of promising running backs C.J. Prosise and Chris Carson. Before his injury last season, Prosise sometimes played like a wide receiver, and successfully converted several long yardage and scoring opportunities. During preseason, Carson sometimes played like a tight end, and excelled in that role. Hopefully, Seattle will be able to incorporate these players into their game plan so their talent is not neglected on the sideline.
2. Keep the Game Close
Defensively, Seattle simply needs to adhere to the same game plan that has enabled them to perform so well since winning the Super Bowl four years ago. Seattle’s defensive line is capable of stopping the run and pressuring the quarterback without blitzing. Their defensive backfield is able to protect against the deep pass without the aid of linebackers dropping back in coverage. These invaluable qualities allow the defense to focus more attention towards the middle of the field where most of the action takes place.
The only time Seattle’s defense has struggled are occasions when they allow their opponent to run up the score early. In last year’s game versus Green Bay, the Legion of Boom stumbled out of the gate, requiring quarterback Russell Wilson and the offense to force low percentage passes downfield. In their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team allowed two first quarter touchdowns, making it necessary to abandon the run early and stray from their offensive game plan.
When the defense holds the opponent to field goals, or prevents the opposition from scoring entirely, the offense is able to establish the run and complete short, high percentage passes. These short and medium range routes are difficult for opposing defenses to prevent. Many times, receivers need only sprint a few yards and turn around to make the completion. Simply falling forward after contact is often enough to obtain first down.
3. Make Necessary Adjustments
Chess masters often use the terms “solid” to describe safer, more defensive moves, and “sharp” to describe riskier, more attacking moves. These terms are applicable to all games and sports, including football. Passes, for example, are sharp because they have a greater potential for scoring and long yardage, but also carry the risk of in-completion or interception. Running plays are more solid because they carry less risk of turnover, but usually only result in short gain.
Seattle has a tendency to play sharp when they should be playing solid, and vice versa. They often run the ball early in the game when they should be attempting more passes. They sometimes pass the ball late in the game when they have a comfortable lead, and should be running the ball to reduce the chances of turnover.
In last year’s week two loss versus the Los Angeles Rams, for instance, Seattle played too solidly. They repeatedly handed the ball off to the running back in the first half, resulting in low scoring. In their game versus the New Orleans Saints, the Seahawks played too sharply, throwing an interception at the end of the first half when the team held a significant lead. This miscue enabled Saints quarterback Drew Brees to bring his team back into contention with a touchdown drive to end the first half.
In many ways, this game plan is Seattle’s formula for success every week. These objectives are true of most football teams, and especially for Seattle’s style of play. The main idea is to keep it simple. Avoid slow developing running plays and deep passing routes that are seldom effective. The Seahawks possess the talent to succeed, and focusing on these fundamentals will likely result in a deep playoff run.