It is my great pleasure to announce a new weekly article at Pack to the Future. Each week, I will be conducting a SWOT analysis for the upcoming Packers opponent. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Used in the business world, SWOT analyses are used to define what a company or competitor is good and bad at, as well as areas that could potentially become strengths or weaknesses. Hopefully this article will give you a solid insight on what to expect from the Packers opponent each week.
With that out of the way, let’s get to the football. It is September, afterall, and the regular season is finally here. Rosters are largely finalized, and teams are focused on their upcoming opponents. The Packers face Seattle for their first game, and despite their hideous new logo, pictured to the right, the Seahawks are a strong team and will provide a serious challenge in all phases of the game.
Strength – Quarterback
The Seahawks offense revolves around Russell Wilson, and with good reason. Like Aaron Rodgers, Wilson is a true dual-threat QB. He’s as proficient in the pocket as he is on the run. And like Rodgers, as long as Wilson is healthy, no lead is safe against the Seahawks.
Though wide receiver isn’t too deep, Doug Baldwin has unique chemistry with Wilson. Some might remember Damarious Randall’s heroic INT off Baldwin last year, one of five interceptions that day, but that connection usually results in completions. Tight end Jimmy Graham should have a better rapport with Wilson, which would give Wilson a potent red zone threat.
With Capers deploying Morgan Burnett at ILB more, Wilson might have a more difficult time running around the defense. But if the Packers go light at ILB with Burnett and Joe Thomas, expect the Seahawks to pound the rock with their stable of high-upside RBs. A “new and improved” Eddie Lacy (sound familiar?) could get plenty of carries against his former teammates.
Seattle’s offensive line is their biggest liability. For all the troubles the Packers have with their backup linemen, their starting unit remains elite. The Seahawks don’t even have a good first unit. Left tackle George Fant seemed to be building on his trial-by-fire rookie season, but his season ended when he suffered an ACL tear in week 2 of preseason. Fant only played one season of collegiate football, converting to tight end from a basketball power forward, but was learning the LT position remarkably fast.
Justin Britt is the core of this group, both as the center and as the most talented player after some recent departures. He’ll face a challenge in NT Kenny Clark, who is riding the momentum of a strong preseason. If Britt can keep Clark from collapsing the pocket on passing downs, Russell Wilson might be able to stay upright. The Packers might also need some time to adjust after reshuffling their front seven, potentially taking some pressure off the o-line.
Seattle’s ‘Legion of Boom’ secondary has often gotten most of the credit for their elite defense. However, their success has always rested on the success of a fierce front seven. Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril headline a dominating defensive line, with Sheldon Richardson’s recent addition adding even more talent.
Normally, they’d meet their match in an elite Packers offensive line. However, Corey Linsley is coming off PUP for offseason ankle surgery, with no guarantee he’ll be ready by Sunday. Bryan Bulaga hasn’t practiced since his preseason ankle injury against Denver, making him even less likely to suit up. This means the Packers might have to turn to one of their underperforming backup OL.
With Bulaga not practicing, it’s likely Kyle Murphy or Jason Spriggs will see the field in his place. If Linsley’s ruled out or aggravates his ankle, Lucas Patrick or Justin McCray will have to step in. None of the backups have performed consistently enough to inspire confidence. If even one backup sees the field, Seattle’s rushers will harass them all afternoon. And dominating the Packers o-line is one of the few ways to shut down their offense.
With Wilson likely to face plenty of pressure, there will be a lot of pressure on the receivers to make plays. Unfortunately for Seattle, Baldwin and Graham are the only true receiving threats. Tyler Lockett is an explosive returner, but he yet hasn’t shown skill as a receiver. As the Packers (and other teams) showed in 2016, if Baldwin and Graham are shut down, the offense can grind to a halt.
If the receivers get locked down, the Packers can dedicate more resources to defending the run. Without a strong offensive line, Seattle will likely have a hard time running against a stacked box. Even if Burnett lines up at ILB, he consistently grades as an elite run-defending safety. They’ll also be facing a dominant defensive line and LBs who, despite deficiencies in coverage, are generally good against the run.
Are there any Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, or Threats you think will have a serious impact on this game? Comment below to tell us what you think!