Countdown To Kickoff: Seahawks vs Green Bay Packers

Posted Sep 4, 2014

Running back Eddie Lacy isn’t the only new wrinkle to the Packers’ offense since Green Bay last played at CenturyLink Field in 2012. The Seahawks’ defense also will have to deal with the Packers’ no-huddle attack in Thursday night’s regular-season opener.

SEATTLE, Wash. - Greetings from CenturyLink Field, where the Seahawks will not only open their regular season but - as Super Bowl champions - kick off the 2014 NFL regular season by hosting the Green Bay Packers in Thursday night’s nationally televised game on NBC (KING 5 in Seattle).

It’s the night we’ve all been waiting for since the Seahawks slapped around the Denver Browns 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2. And what a Seahawks defense that led the NFL in average points and yards allowed last season is about to see might look similar to the offense they faced at MetLife Stadium on the historic evening seven months ago – at least before the ball is snapped.

That’s because the Packers, with savvy veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers at the controls, have gone to a no-huddle offense. So Thursday night’s game isn’t just a good test because it’s the opener against a team that has won 52 times on kickoff weekend (second most in NFL history), it’s a portent of what’s to come on occasion from the Chargers in San Diego next week and almost exclusively against the Broncos in the Super Bowl rematch at CenturyLink Field on Sept. 21.

The speed at which the Seahawks’ defense plays is one of the cornerstones of coach Pete Carroll’s philosophy – along with being physical, aggressive and smart. The no-huddle is an attempt by the offense to dictate the tempo that the Seahawks’ defense often dominates.

“I am anxious to see what their pace is,” Carroll said after Wednesday’s walkthrough at Virginia Mason Athletic Center. “We’re real aware of what we’ve seen. We’ve seen teams that can go faster than they tend to go. It’s really how successful they are. They’ll go really fast if they’re doing really well, and hopefully we can do something to slow that thing down.”

So while watching All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman against Packers’ productive wide receiver Jordy Nelson, and middle linebacker and leading tackler Bobby Wagner against the Packers’ running back Eddie Lacy, and Pro Bowl-caliber nose tackle Brandon Mebane against Packers rookie center Corey Linsley, also keep an even closer eye on Rodgers. At times, you might think you’re watching Peyton Manning because of the pre-snap gyrations and gestures.

The Packers ran the no-huddle almost exclusively in the their preseason game against the St. Louis Rams in the Edward Jones Dome and, thanks to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, we know it looked something like this:

“Before one play, Rodgers signals a quick thumbs down to (Jarrett) Boykin and then points to Nelson and (Randall) Cobb on the left side. On another play, he subtly touches his left knee. On another, he grabs his wrist and pumps his arm down.

“At least once, he put his fist up and made a subtle first-down gesture, put his finger up to his facemask and pointed to the back of his hand.”

All of this, of course, will set off a flurry of waving arms and hand gestures by Wagner and All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas as they reset the defense accordingly because of what they think they’re seeing from Rodgers.

“We’ve practiced the whole camp, really, and even in the offseason knowing that a number of teams – two in the first three games anyway – are no-huddle teams,” Carroll said. “So it’s just become, hopefully, a normal aspect of our preparation. We’re a no-huddle defense is what it amounts to.

“We’ll have to wait and see. The games can surprise you and I’m sure they’re working really hard at doing this. It’s a great accent to an offense and we’ll see how we handle it. I think we’re going to do fine.”

So you’ll have to wait and see, as well, but not much longer as kickoff and televised coverage is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. PT.