Corey Linsley the Unsung Hero

The positions on the offensive line are by far the least sexy positions of the 22 starting positions on offense and defense. 

Most fans understand how incredibly important the offensive line is to a football team's success. However despite its importance, people rarely talk about or hear the name of the players on the offensive line unless they screw up. 

When you play on the offensive line you either did your job or you screwed up. Occasionally there will be a game where people are talking about the good job a lineman did against an elite defensive lineman, which is typically an offensive tackle shutting down an elite pass-rusher. The interior offensive line is almost never talked about because they rarely go against the defensive players that put up the big, shiny sack totals or are the freak athletes who can run 4.6 40s at 260 pounds. 

One of the main reasons why the offensive line doesn't get a lot of attention is because they don't have stats that casual fans can look at and see how they are performing. Because of this everyone is following the ball and the linemen are only noticed when they screw up.. Sure there are things like hurries and sacks allowed, but ESPN doesn't want to talk about a right guard who has allowed only two hurries over the last five games... that's boring to most people. The linemen almost never get a chance to make a play that goes above and beyond and single-handedly changes the game like a great catch or interception can.

That is what makes Corey Linsley's performance on Sunday night so damn impressive, because he did just that - he changed the game. With a couple very heads up plays paired with very solid blocking all game long, Linsley did what almost no offensive lineman can... made plays that completely changed the game.

Going into Sunday's game against the Seahawks the Packers knew that being at home was going to be an advantage that they needed to, well, take advantage of. For the first time in last four matchups with Seattle the Packers' offense didn't have to worry about not hearing the snap count - or more importantly, Seattle's defense could hear it.

The Packers fully intended to use the hard count to use Seattle's aggressive defense against them and that is exactly what happened. After all, the Seahawks were by far the most penalized team in the NFL in 2013 and 2014. 

Aaron Rodgers was able to get Michael Bennett to jump offsides three times in the first half of the game as well as getting a too many men on the field penalty against Seattle. Those jumps/penalties are nothing if the center isn't alert enough to get the snap off before Bennett can get back onside or before the 12th man (no, not THAT 12th man) can get off the field. Linsley's alertness was able to gain the Packers four free-plays in which they capitalized on three of them and the other still got them a first down.

The Packers were able to get a big pass over the middle to Cobb, a long pass interference penalty, and of course, the James Jones touchdown off of those plays. Not to mention a five-yard penalty on 3rd and 1. Two of the plays came on 2nd and 15 and 2nd and 17 as well. All together the three Bennett offsides alone ended up totaling 103 yards and a touchdown from those plays. The ability of Linsley to get the snap off on the touchdown was especially impressive because Barclay moved due to Bennett jumping, so if the snap doesn't happen when it does, it would for sure be only a five-yard penalty.

The ability of Aaron Rodgers to draw the Bennett offsides and the subsequent results of the plays are what are going to grab the headlines but I don't recall the announcers or anyone else really giving Linsley any (or enough) love for actually getting those snaps off. It's not often that an offensive lineman, let alone a center, can be credited with being a playmaker on game-changing plays, but Linsley did just that. Without those plays, the Packers likely do not win the game on Sunday.

Linsley didn't give up a single QB hurry, hit, or sack in the game and made this play that is making its way around the internet where Linsley (not the man who was circled) helps Lang finish off his man and then moves on and picks up another block to aid in Starks' 35-yard run:

 

A lot of teams are fine with having their offensive linemen move when the defender crosses the line so they can take the five yards, the Packers and Aaron Rodgers want more and on Sunday they took it. None of that would be possible without alert playmaking from Corey Linsley.

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Comments (30)

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Packer_Pete's picture

September 24, 2015 at 06:17 am

Linsley truly was a great pick by Ted. No doubt if last year's draft would be done over again he'd be a first round pick. Incredible he had to wait til the 5th round to be drafted...
Also shows Ted can draft OL, and as this OL is a very good one, the only player who was drafted high was Bulaga. the others in the middle rounds. Awesome draft picks, and probably the best OL that I have seen as a Packers fan. And I've been a fan since quite a long time (I know I'm old :))

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Dan Stodola's picture

September 24, 2015 at 09:21 am

I would rate the Clifton, Wahle, Flanigan, River, Tauscher OL slightly better. Not dramatically. Clifton was a much better LT than Bahktiari. Rivera = Sitton, Wahle = Lang, Flanigan = Lindsley, Tauscher not quite = Bulaga.

Basically having a Pro Bowl type LT makes the difference.

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Since '61's picture

September 24, 2015 at 11:44 am

Not even close to Lombardi's OL. Thanks, Since '61

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Dan Stodola's picture

September 24, 2015 at 02:54 pm

Was only comparing yhe recent OL. THE 03 group I mentioned was better than the current version. Lombardi yrs OL probably better, but I was born in 65. Can't say i remember seeing them play.

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Since '61's picture

September 24, 2015 at 07:14 pm

Dan - understood. I would agree that the '03 tackles were better than the current tackles (Bakh and Bulaga). However I would say that the current interior group (Lang, Linsley & Sitton) are a good as if not a little better than the '03 interior. I would take the current interior with Tauscher and Clifton as the tackles, that would make quite an OL I think. Thanks, Since '61

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Dan Stodola's picture

September 24, 2015 at 09:15 pm

I call the OG and C a wash. Rivera was a multiple time All Pro (Sitton a 2x 2nd team All Pro), Wahle was excellent at LG (every bit as good as Lang, maybe better) and Flanigan made the Pro Bowl (possible Lindsley could surpass). All 3 of the interior positions on both teams were outstanding. Can't give the edge to this years group just yet.

The OT in '03 were better no doubt about it.

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lou's picture

September 24, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Very accurate and informed analysis, there is a reason LT's make the most money in the O-Line and Clifton was solid from day one. I can remember all the posts urging Thompson to keep Scott Wells and EDS, great business decisions to let them walk and now although it didn't look like it at the time great decisions to let Rivera and Whale go as well, both only had a couple decent years left (Jerry Jones made Rivera the highest paid guard at the time but back problems derailed him).

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 24, 2015 at 04:41 pm

Letting Rivera go was the right decision. Rivera was a FA who was not re-signed. Wahle was under contract - he had not played out his contract. Wahle was cut as a cap casualty because Sherman screwed up his contract. Wahle played at a high level for at least 4 more years. Don't know whether Wahle would have agreed to re-structure his contract.

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Dan Stodola's picture

September 24, 2015 at 09:21 pm

Wahle did restructure to stay in GB the last few years. But his contract was heavily backloaded to allow him to stay and afford him. Once the backloaded year came up, Packers simply couldn't afford him anymore. Wahle was in his prime and had to get the best contract he could at that point.

Rivera was a shadow of himself by the time Dallas signed him as a FA. It was a very smart move not to re-sign him.

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Mojo's picture

September 25, 2015 at 12:13 am

Pre-Linsley I would have gone with the '03 group, but now I think you can make a case for both.

In comparing them I would consider their performance only when healthy.

At LT I would give a decided edge to Cliffy over Bahk. In his prime Clifton barely gave a sniff to pass rushers. Great size, quick feet, great use of hands. A prototypical LT. Not the greatest on run blocking but when he went down it was hard for him to get up, especially after the Sapp cheap shot. On a scale of 1 to 10, ten being the best, I'd give Cliffy a solid 8.

In fairness to Bahk, I don't think he's in his prime yet (more on that later). He's a bit undersized for his position as is susceptible to the bull rush. Not a great run blocker. Sounds like I'm down on him, but actually not at all. Like I said, I don't think he's hit his prime yet. He's got the right disposition and if can bulk up without injury or losing speed I think he'll be fine. I'd give him a 5- right now, around or just below average.

Just realized this will be too long a post so I'll speed it up.

LG - Sitton 9 over Wahle 7.

Sitton is considered one of the best if not the best a his position right now. Wahle was very good, but I don't think he ever held that distinction.

Linsley 8 over Flanagan 7 - I think in his second year Linsley is better than Flanagan in his best year. He's already considered on of the better centers in the league. Once again, nothing against Flanagan but Linsley at times is dominant. I never saw that from Flanny.

Rivera 8 - Lang 7 - Lang is improving and might move up to and 8 this year, but Rivera was the heart and soul of that line before injuries limited his effectiveness.

Bulaga 9 over Tauscher 7 - Remember this is when the players are at full health. I believe Bulaga is considered one of the best RT's in the league right now. Tausch got everything out of his body and played very well, but I give the edge to Bulaga here.

Don't dwell on Pro-bowls either. Jeff Saturday was voted in after his last year here. It's hard to take them seriously at times.

The nice thing about the current line is only two of the lineman are in their prime, Sitton and Lang, There is room for growth for Bahk, Linsley and Bulaga.

Now because of the importance of LT to the overall strength of the line, I'll give a bonus point to Cliffy. So I believe the final total is a tie at 38, with the current line having the opportunity to surpass the '03 line as it matures.

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Since '61's picture

September 24, 2015 at 11:43 am

Packer Pete - don't know exactly how old you are but if you missed them, Lombardi's OL was not only the Packers best OL but arguably the best OL in NFL history. Thanks, Since '61

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4thand1's picture

September 24, 2015 at 04:13 pm

The 96 SB team's OL was pretty dam good too.

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porupack's picture

September 24, 2015 at 06:26 am

Awesome call-out to Linsley. Well done pointing out how GB used Seattle's past advantage against them. Though its certainly not a new tactic, it was used so strategically against Seattle, requiring an alert Linsley, WRs and of course....the mortar launcher. They clearly had the plan going in, how they were going to neutralize Seattle's Moxie.

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croatpackfan's picture

September 24, 2015 at 07:39 am

Expect similar to better against KC. Both OLBs are very fast and quick in reaction. Great chance for Aaron!

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Nick Perry's picture

September 24, 2015 at 07:25 am

I said it in a previous comment, Sitton, Lindsey, and Lang are the best Guard, Center, Guard, combination in the NFL. The Packers had Bakhtieri and Barclay run their guys wide outside and Rodgers had that pocket to step into or out of all night. What else is impressive is the Packers ability to run behind Lindsey and Sitton or Lindsey and Lang. Normally it's to the left but it's still damn impressive because the defense knows it's coming and still doesn't stop it. Kudos to the O-Line and Lacy/Starks!

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Since '61's picture

September 24, 2015 at 07:34 am

Mike - nice job pointing out the great work done by Linsley. He played well for the entire game. He seems to be improving every week since his first start in week 1 last season. I'm confident that we are seeing the emergence of an all pro=center for the Packers for a long time to come. Go Pack! Thanks, Since '61

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Tundraboy's picture

September 24, 2015 at 01:33 pm

Wasn't it great the way he played Sunday. Here's to more.

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joe packer's picture

September 24, 2015 at 08:10 am

Jerry Kramer comes to mind, both for his remarkable and reliable play and his lack of recognition by the Hall of Fame.

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Since '61's picture

September 24, 2015 at 01:37 pm

Jerry Kramer was a great player but he played right guard and held down the place kicking duties from time to time. However, I don't believe that he ever played center for the Packers. Thanks, Since '61

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joe packer's picture

September 24, 2015 at 03:26 pm

We all know what position Kramer played. The post was about the OL -specifically the interior OL - and how those positions are overlooked / undervalued.

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joe packer's picture

September 24, 2015 at 08:37 am

So sorry for repeated posts. Trying to remove...

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MikeReuter's picture

September 24, 2015 at 11:30 am

No worries, I got them for you. I think it was a site issue, nothing that you did wrong.

I'm just going to leave this comment up because some other people had double comments as well.

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joe packer's picture

September 24, 2015 at 03:27 pm

Thank you!

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efox2011's picture

September 24, 2015 at 08:56 am

On Day 3, it's usually luck of the draw if picks pan out or not, but you have to credit TT and the scouts, and you have to credit the coaches for helping Corey get ready to play so quickly. Scouting is nothing without development.

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Blank Space's picture

September 24, 2015 at 09:25 am

Seems right

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Pack88's picture

September 24, 2015 at 10:21 am

Really enjoyed this article I like Linsley's game very much. He is a squat powerful guy and so much smarter than he was credited with during draft time. It is a luxury to have another starting caliber center in Tretter (the new Wally Pipp) available . By the way in that clip you can't see Quarless decleat Bruce Irvin, that was sweet also!

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marpag1's picture

September 24, 2015 at 05:30 pm

I think we can be sure that Linsley remembers last year when the Seattle players said he needed to pray. Judging from how horrible Seattle's center looks, I'm guessing that those same players are now praying that Linsley could play in Seattle.

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Oppy's picture

September 25, 2015 at 04:32 am

1) Linsley is a beast, that kid's strength makes him a man among men.

2) There's a certain irony in the fact this play made by Linsley is a textbook example of the primary blocking technique used in a zone blocking scheme. In fact, if Bakhtiari (offscreen) is cutting the backside pursuit, yeah, this IS the 'dreaded' inside zone run, the same one so many Packers fans have lamented since 2006. :)

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D-wing's picture

September 26, 2015 at 11:59 pm

"The positions on the offensive line are by far the least sexy positions of the 22 starting positions on offense and defense."

#69 would strongly disagree.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 27, 2015 at 02:06 am

Linsley now draws Donatari Poe and Jaye Howard. KC has been easing Poe back in during their first two games. Howard is actually pretty good. Poe got 32 snaps to Howard's 41 in week one, but played 49 snaps in week 2 and played more snaps than Howard (40), who still got the start. This could be an epic battle.

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