A Quick Pass to Victory Over Seattle
The Seahawks' secondary is getting all kinds of publicity leading up to this weekend's NFC Championship, and for good reason: they're really good. They've thoroughly flummoxed just about every top-flight quarterback they've faced, including Aaron Rodgers in Week 1. The Packers famously made the decision to avoid Richard Sherman entirely that day, cutting off half the field even more effectively than Sherman already does. It didn't work. The Seahawks were more than okay with the Packers avoiding half the field, and the Packers couldn't do enough on the half they alloted themselves to even put a small dent in Seattle's defense.
It won't be the same this time around, however. The Packers have already gone on record as saying they'll be going Richard Sherman's direction, and I think we'll see some new wrinkles that Mike McCarthy is cooking up this week, much like he did in preparation for the New England Patriots.
Might it be simpler than that, though? Is there an easier way than out-scheming the Seahawks? Former Packers coach Mike Holmgren thinks there is. here's what he told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel this week:
Asked how he would attack the Seahawks, Holmgren said that he would throw on first down and run on second because Carroll tends to have his big linemen in the game on first down and replace them with his pass rushers on second down.
"They're going to bring their 'quicks' in on second down," Holmgren said. "They substitute a lot on second down. When they go to their smalls, you run and try to get in third and short. Then you have a chance.
"That's what San Diego did (in a 30-21 Seahawks loss)."
A look at the play-by-play data from San Diego's Week 2 tilt with Seattle reveals this to be at least partly true. Overall (and not counting kneel downs), the Chargers called passes on 16 of their first down plays and runs on...17. But wait! There's more! During the Chargers' impressive first half, in which they outscored the Seahawks 21-14, they went with passes on 12 plays and runs on just seven. That may be more the approach Holmgren was hinting at.
Could it work? The Packers have the personnel to do so, but pass protection will be even more at a premium. If quick passing on first down is the answer, the biggest question will be pass protection.