Jan 11, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) runs the ball against the Dallas Cowboys in the 2014 NFC Divisional playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
When teams have beaten Seattle this year, there have been a couple striking similarities that can be pointed to as key to their defeat.
Chief among them?
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Effectively running the ball on offense.
Each of the teams that beat Seattle this year, while they may not have exactly dominated in that field, managed to make a significant impact with their running games when they had control of the ball.
It makes sense when you think about it. Seattle’s strengths on defense are routinely associated with their abilities in pass coverage.
They aren’t terrible against the run – in fact, they were stronger against the run (#2) than the pass (#3) according to Defensive DVOA statistics – but their best players play best when the ball is in the air.
The last time these teams met, Green Bay wasn’t able to execute a balanced game plan. They ran only 21 times while dropping back for 33 passes; that off-center ratio against Seattle usually helps result in exactly what happened: losing handily.
On those 21 completions, Green Bay only managed 80 yards.
That just won’t cut it.
Sep 4, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril (56) tackles Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy (27) during the third quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Now, part of that play-call disparity and low yardage probably came from falling behind too early, sure. But I think that it was impacted moreso because of a certain untimely injury to a key player in Eddie Lacy.
Like I said earlier, he missed a lot of time that game with a concussion. He didn’t really have a good game going beforehand (12 carries for 34 yards), but he’s the type of back that tends to get better as a game goes along.
He’s also the exact type of powerful runner that can be used to batter a team all game; James Starks is a nice complement, but nowhere near as effective or intimidating as Lacy has proven to be.
I won’t say Green Bay needs to all of a sudden play as a run-heavy, power-based team to win here; that isn’t who they are, and it would be a mistake to try delving too far away from their strengths. What they do need is to have at least a strong element of power infused into their usual game plan.
With a healthy Lacy for the whole contest (barring any knee/concussion/asthma flare-ups), the Packers have the exact element they need to attack Seattle in the trenches and prevent them from loading up against the mobility-impaired Rodgers and the Green Bay passing attack.
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