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Corey Linsley doing his part -- to no one's surprise -- while Packers enter critical stretch

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Corey Linsley doing his part -- to no one's surprise -- while Packers enter critical stretch

-- The last time the Green Bay Packers were preparing for a game in Chicago with Aaron Rodgers as their starting quarterback, Barrack Obama was still the President of the United States.

It was also the last time Corey Linsley missed a single snap as the team's center.

Packers.com staff writer Wes Hodkiewicz noted on Wednesday that Linsley had played over 2,000 consecutive regular-season snaps for the Packers' offensive line, dating back to that 30-27 week 15 victory.

The Packers were in the middle of stringing together six consecutive wins en route to "running the table" into the playoffs after starting the 2016 season 4-6.

2018 tells a similar tale. The Packers were 4-7-1 after a stunning loss to the Arizona Cardinals, but a somewhat promising win over the Atlanta Falcons last week offered a promising step towards potentially reigniting their playoff hopes.

Instead of finishing the season with six straight wins, they'll need to make it four by the time the season is over and, with one win already under their belt, their toughest test is this week against the Bears.

"They’re probably the best front seven that we’ve played," Linsley said on Wednesday. With a win, the Packers could sweep the Bears for the third consecutive year -- a feat they haven't been able to match since 2001-2003 when they won seven straight games against the Bears dating back to late in the 2000 season.

"They’re at least as talented as anybody that we’ve gone up against and combining that with the scheme, obviously, [Vic] Fangio has a reputation of being a great defensive coordinator. All in all, it’s a huge challenge. We’ve played these guys before, we’ve been ready for these guys before, we just have to do it again. Come into this week prepared, focused, everything."

Linsley is in the midst of what is beginning to be recognized as a Pro Bowl year as one of Rodgers' most consistent pass-blocking linemen. Between Linsley and left tackle David Bakhtiari, there hasn't been much else to write home about when it comes to the Packers' offensive line.

Both interior guard spots have been a revolving door, with Lane Taylor's below average year -- compared to what's been expected of him -- coming to a halt in favor of Lucas Patrick getting the start last week against the Falcons. Byron Bell, the starting right guard, was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday and Justin McCray, his predecessor, is now back in the starting role.

Against a defense like the one the Bears sport, the Packers could only hope to be even slightly healthier along the offensive line than they were against the Falcons when they were missing three of their five primary bodies. But they have the depth to combat any onslaught of injuries if need be.

"I think everybody in our room does a great job of paying attention," Linsley said. "Everybody in our room knows their stuff, knows their assignments and is committed to the cause. ... Everybody in our room is invested in the cause, and no matter who steps up, no matter who’s where, we have complete faith and confidence in them."

A loss to the Bears wouldn't eliminate the Packers from playoff contention so long as either the Philadelphia Eagles or Washington Redskins lose, but it would make their road that much more challenging. It would also mean the Minnesota Vikings would absolutely need to lose their final two games.

As of right now, the Packers need the Carolina Panthers, Eagles and Redskins to each lose one game and the Vikings to lose two of their final free. The Packers need to win out on top of all else, and Khalil Mack and co. stand in their way.

"It’s definitely not where we want to be, but at this point, you have to look at it week by week; it’s a one week season. That’s the way you gotta treat it. It is what it is, but we’re going into this focused on the Bears."

__________________________

Zachary Jacobson is a staff writer/reporter for Cheesehead TV. He's the voice of The Leap on iTunes and can be heard on The Scoop KLGR 1490 AM every Saturday morning. He's also a contributor on the Pack-A-Day Podcast. He can be found on Twitter via @ZachAJacobson or contacted through email at [email protected].

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (47) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

dgtalmn's picture

I wish they would stop with a chance of being in the playoffs.

Packerpasty's picture

ill second that...well, with this O line, it most likely will stop after Sunday and perhaps Rodgers season as well...hate to be pessimistic but also a realistic type....but GO PACK..."kill the draft"

Daren726's picture

Linsley has been good for several years now. He never gets mentioned. He’s a blue collar show up everyday guy. Works his butt off. No complaints. Wish we had a couple of guards like him.

Lare's picture

Agreed. Center definitely isn't a glamour position, someone else gets all the credit when you do your job well and you get the blame when you make a mistake. For the most part, Linsley has played well and has been able to stay relatively healthy and available throughout his career.

If the Packers are going to have any chance of being successful in the future, Gutekunst has to make fixing the OL his top priority this offseason.

The TKstinator's picture

Not glamorous, but probably second only to LT in importance to the O-Line.

Old School's picture

Gute, since his promotion, has done very little in this area. The only guy he added was Bell. His draft pick never showed up. Everybody else is a leftover.

So...Gute put the future of the franchise in Rodgers hands with a big money deal and then did nothing to help keep him healthy.

Keep Bakhtiari, Taylor, Linsley, and Bulaga, but add four more guys. We need 8 on gameday.

Thebearsstillsuck's picture

You would have to add 5 guys then, because Bulaga is not available every Sunday anymore. I love the guy. He's the anti Nick Perry, he'll duct tape himself together to get on the field. But it's time for him to go

Old School's picture

I think Bulaga should be asked back next year, and will be, for several reasons.

First, he's under contract. He'll be about an $8 million cap hit. We could save all his salary and bonuses and only create about $1.5 million in dead money, but then we'd still need to pay his replacement, too. So yes, on a straight dollars consideration, we can save money by releasing him if we can get a better, cheaper replacement. I don't think that's going to be that easy.

Second, when he's healthy enough to play, he's a pretty good player.

Third, he's had pretty good reliability this season. Even after missing last week, he's still around 75% availability.

I would love it if the Packers got a better RT on the roster next year, and use Bulaga as backup at both tackle positions. I'd feel a lot better about Rodgers health if I knew we had a guy like Bulaga on the bench in case of an emergency. I don't mind paying him for one last season.

Nick Perry's picture

Even without all the injuries to the O-Line the Packers game plan should be EXACTLY the way they played in the 2nd half week one. Someone mentioned it in a previous comment on another topic but we all know Rodgers MUST get rid of the ball in 2.5 to 3 seconds every time. This time at least they'll have Aaron Jones for the game which is huge no matter how good this Bears defense might be.

dobber's picture

Bears CBs jump routes with regularity. They know QBs are getting the ball out fast. With that in mind, Packers will get their shots downfield if they can protect #12.

Bearmeat's picture

Exactly. The Bears secondary absolutely can be had if you can block the front 7 for 3.5 seconds... Fuller is not a #1CB, Jackson is not very good, and don't make me laugh about Amukamura. The front 7 makes them look good. This is the best front 7 in the NFL since the 9ers in 2012 IMO.

The TKstinator's picture

Out and up, baby!
Hitch and go!

Since '61's picture

Linsley has been solid for the Packers. He and Bak have been excellent all season. Beyond them we need better players on the OL.

As for the Bears we need to stop their ground game and keep Trubitsky in 3rd and long. Force a few turnovers. Keep our offense on the field and build a lead.

Hopefully no bone head plays from our Special Teams.
Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

Guam's picture

Zook is still the special teams coach...…...

Matt Gonzales's picture

Zook isn't out on the field executing plays. Zook doesn't call holding penalty or return fumble on his play sheet. A coach shouldn't have to tell a professional football player to not jump the snap count or not hold.

At this point of the season, to borrow a phrase from McCarthy, it comes down to execution. They have the plays and units they have. They just have to get on the field and do it.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

When do you want GB to sign Zook to a lifetime contract?

Matt Gonzales's picture

Nobody wants that. But firing more coaches at the end of the year isn’t going to help returners not drop punts or help linemen not hold.

flackcatcher's picture

Special teams reflect the bottom third of the roster. Teams try to punch up or patch up (whatever term you like) with starters or core players, but performance is depended up those who are either lower draft choices of free agents. That just the way it is in the NFL. Blaming Ron Zook for this basic fact of football life is dumb and lazy. Ron Zook is not the guy to blame for the personal issues the Packers have. Special teams is always a glaring issue when rosters are thin of quality personal, it's the bright light telling how poor a football team really is.

Matt Gonzales's picture

Doesn’t help either when those guys get called to replace other defensive or offensive starters and lose ST reps to take first team practice reps. Or when they go from the scout team or off the street to ST.

The ST failings this year aren’t like the year of the repeated blocked punts/kicks (I forget which it was). It’s not a formation, timing, or scheme issue.

LeotisHarris's picture

You have to stop, Matt. You're making sense and in doing so blowing the minds of the "hold people accountable" crowd. The end game for the aforementioned crowd is firing the individual at the top. It's cathartic! It means someone has been punished because they didn't do their job and that action immediately solves all problems. It's black and white. Easy.

Your thinking is more in line with reality, I believe. Coaching ST this year on this team must have been like herding cats. Zook may or may not be a goober, but this isn't all on him. Not even a good firing can remedy the plethora of changes needed in our roster.

Old School's picture

Was Montgomery's Boner a lack of talent? Tramon's fumble? Crosby's career worst day?

Of course not.

If I was calling the shots, we'd quit returning punts and just fair catch them. We'd guard against trick plays and maybe try to pressure the punter into a shorter kick, but we wouldn't have any more fumbles, injuries, or penalties in returns.

We'd go for two unless one wins it.
We'd go for it on 4th down more, even if we were in field goal range.

That's what I would do. Special teams don't have to win the game, but they shouldn't cost you the game, either, and we lost games this year because of bad special teams play.

LeotisHarris's picture

Jeepers, Old School. I'm a liberal guy, and I know this is an open forum, but this is at least the second time you've mentioned Montgomery's Boner. Maybe it's just me, but I have to ask; were you one of the people who were not upset when Harley Davidson chose Elton John to play their 100th Anniversary party? Or did you leave chanting "WE WANT TOBY KEITH" with the rest of the manly men.

Old School's picture

Unless those fellas play metal-bending rock and roll, it doesn't make much difference to me. I've heard of Toby Keith....I like that song "red, white, and blue" , I remember an Elton John from the 70s who played piano and had some pop hits. Is that the same guy? He's still playing?

Ice Bowl. 31 Wedge. Bostick's Blunder. And now Montgomery's Boner.

Iconic moments require iconic names.

LeotisHarris's picture

LOL, well done, friend! Nothing old school about your spin doctor skills.

That is the same Elton John, and he's playing to sold-out arenas worldwide this year and next on a farewell tour at age 70. We should all be so lucky.

ILPackerBacker's picture

Amazing! Did you listen to ZOOK talk about the NE game? Did you know he sent the wrong people in for the block attempt and KNEW IT? Did you bother to find out why ZOOK made the RETURN not BLOCK call after 2nd down? Not after 3rd down? And that he ADMITTED he was unprepared for the sack on 3rd down and did NOT communicate the change in the call to the players?

Packerpasty's picture

not for long I hope...true, coaches don't make the plays on the field but does anyone think for one minute that this crap would go on in New England??? Coaches are held responsible for their units...the way it goes...

The TKstinator's picture

What color is the grass in New England?

LeotisHarris's picture

Depends. Does Mr. Kraft appreciate the sound of one hand clapping?

The TKstinator's picture

Mr.Kraft has the clap??

flackcatcher's picture

....not touching THAT......:)

egbertsouse's picture

The Packers could still make the playoffs even if they lose out. Since we are currently experiencing a meteor shower, if house-sized meteors wipe out 18 major market cities in the US then there will be a 15% chance the Packers can survive to reach the 1st round. Read the full story Monday morning.

The TKstinator's picture

If we’re still here ourselves.

MarkinMadison's picture

He missed three regular season games in 2015 and seven in 2016. I think some were questioning if he was going to be reliable enough at that time. Signing him to a three year extension at the end of 2017 has turned out to be one of the last best moves of the TT era. Hopefully Kevin King will get his house in order and have a similar story.

Jonathan Spader's picture

Linsley had an ankle injury he returned too soon from and reinjured. He's also a huge OL man. King is a string bean and went from shoulder injury to other injuries. I hope you're right about King staying healthy and living up to his draft status I just don't see it as an apple to apple comparison.

Razer's picture

Corey Linsley is one of those quietly good stories from a sour year. We'll have the last 3 games to audition some of the projects on the roster before rebuilding the line for next year.

It would be awesome to take the Bears down a notch this weekend. If Rodgers gets the ball out quickly, we take advantage of the short stuff and middle of the field - we may keep them from teeing off with their pass rush. Okay, okay, I'll stop with my dreaming.

Finish strong boys.

Matt Gonzales's picture

The pass rush is what worries me. Rodgers has been sacking himself a lot this year, with his "drop back, pedal right, curl up in a ball" routine. Most of the time, when Rodgers goes down like this, the pressure is coming from the sides and behind him. He usually has the room to step up and throw, but is trying to escape the pocket instead.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

AR has seen tons of pressure coming inside. I disagree with the notion that AR has often had the room to step up in the pocket.

Matt Gonzales's picture

Sure, they’re through the line by the time he falls over or by the time he spins out of the first tackle. He had plenty of chances last week to step up and throw, assuming he is seeing the pressure and can decide more quickly where the ball is going.

From a scheme perspective playing more third downs with either two backs or Kendricks playing FB in the backfield would also help create a quicker checkdown option. Rodgers’ MO on the blitz has been to try to escape it and either throw the long bomb or scramble. Every defense knows it and has been able to pretty effectively contain it.

flackcatcher's picture

Teams got video on the Packers too. Since the Bears game teams have overloaded on either guard position in stunts or delayed blitzes. Not having a second back in the backfield, or worse throwing on time has played into the other team defensive scheme all season long. That is not on either guard, but on Rodgers not getting the ball out on time or taking the throw away, and McCarthy for being addicted to his vertical routes and 'splash plays'.

PatrickGB's picture

Was it MM who was addicted to splash plays or was it Rodgers? They have worked well in the past but teams have learned to blanket our receivers and keep 12 in the pocket where the push can finally get to him. Or they circle around and sack him when he cannot step up. The days of the line holding up for ten seconds are over.

The TKstinator's picture

I’d offer that would be a pretty good plan vs any team: blanket the receivers and pressure/sack the QB.

Packerpasty's picture

How come everyone but coaches and scouts knows more of what goes on in a game and what and who calls plays than the actual coaches?? You guys must watch hours of tape...first everyone wanted Mike and his stale playbook gone but now that he is its all Rodgers fault...funny stuff!!!

The TKstinator's picture

Are you saying we are clowns?
That we amuse you??

ILPackerBacker's picture

It is funny to hear 'fans' come out and protect a guy like ZOOK when ZOOK on air, at a press conferences admits the truth.

Unprepared, wrong call, wrong players, no communication. All of that from the Jacka##'s mouth.

Lare's picture

Zook had a job in Green Bay because he was a friend of the (ex) Head Coach. If he's well respected around the league, we should see him get picked up pretty quickly by another team when he is let go at the end of this season.

Old School's picture

Exactly. I'd bet all the cheese in Kaukauna that Zook will not be back.

Matt Gonzales's picture

Ew, who wants to eat cheese from a city that ss like that?

I kid. I'm sure Zook is gone next year. But unfortunately, I'm guessing either Philbin or Pettine are too unless one gets the HC job and wants to the keep the other there.

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