Cory's Corner: Packers Must Bring Pressure

Sunday's NFC Divisional Playoff Game between Seattle and Green Bay is all about pressure.

You're probably saying, "Obviously Cory. This is the playoffs. The next few weeks are dripping with pressure."

No, this is about quarterback pressure. The Seahawks' left side of the offensive line is in shambles. Left guard Mike Iupati is doubtful with a neck stinger and left tackle Duane Brown has been listed as doubtful with a knee issue. And Brown's replacement, George Fant, is questionable with a groin problem.

That puts the onus on the Packers' front seven. That unit must make Russell Wilson scratch for every first down. They have to make him scramble for every completion and they must force Wilson to do things he just doesn't want to do.

Let's face it. Wilson is the better quarterback in this game. He has played much better this season than Aaron Rodgers. There are some that still refuse to believe that, but Wilson has really carried that team this year. He has brought the Seahawks out of the fire many times this year; Seattle has three one-point wins and is remarkably 8-1 on the road this year.

But it's not just pressure. Za'Darius and Preston Smith have a combined 25 ½ sacks this year and will get their chance to greet Wilson with their speed and versatility. But it's also about containment.

Packers defensive coordinator Mike Pettine will be forced to use a spy on Wilson because of what he can do to defenses. He made Philadelphia crumble last week with an 18-yard scramble on third-and-15 late in the third quarter.

Plays like that are absolute back breakers for a defense and those kinds of plays need to be eliminated.

And with nose tackle Kenny Clark questionable with a back problem, Pettine might have to change some things around. Dean Lowry and Tyler Lancaster are serviceable with a healthy Clark, but if he cannot go on Sunday, the interior will need to be altered.

There are so many reasons why the Packers should win this game by a touchdown. Yet, without consistent pressure and if Wilson isn't made uncomfortable, Green Bay's defense will get in trouble.

Wilson has been pressured 40 percent of the time this season and has been sacked 49 times. There will be opportunities for the Packers to force Wilson to make the tough throw, make him stretch for the first down and do the impossible to keep drives alive.

The front seven must limit Wilson's big plays while consistently making him look over his shoulder. Do that, and I don't see how the Packers lose.

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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Comments (30)

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Cubbygold's picture

January 11, 2020 at 06:36 am

Ugh, I hope KC is a clear healthy start or GB knows ahead of time that they're playing without him so they can get a game plan together.

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Leland's picture

January 11, 2020 at 07:25 am

Containment is the key. Don't over rush or miss Wilson when you get a shot. Box him in and you limit his sight lines. Go Pack

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 11, 2020 at 08:06 am

Gutedkunst got new Edge people for a reason. Curious to see if Raven Green will be activated. Campbell is there in any case. Amos can run the safety blitz as well as Savage.

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The_Justicar's picture

January 11, 2020 at 09:24 am

If Greene plays at all it will be very little. Hasn’t actually played in nearly 4 months and would be eased back in.

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Minniman's picture

January 11, 2020 at 01:58 pm

The Packers need Greene to get home to the QB maybe 3 times early, that will be a great use of his explosive play ability.

He's going to be like Lynch for the Hawks, he'll blow up if used too much, but if used sparingly in the right circumstances then he could be a difference maker in this game.

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Leatherhead's picture

January 11, 2020 at 08:45 am

Amen. Keep Wilson in the pocket. He’s short.

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NickPerry's picture

January 11, 2020 at 08:33 am

Personally I think Za'Darius Smith has a game much like he did in week 16 with 3.5 sacks. If the Seahawks are really forced to use their 3rd string LT, the Packers won't even need to blitz in this game, especially if Clark is a go.

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 11, 2020 at 11:38 am

Carroll will have to chip Za and Preston with his fullback or TEs . He'll let Wilson throw the ball 70% and be the main running threat. Kenny Clark and Lowry are the keys. The Eagles were sucessful blitzing Jenkins to get to Wilson fast.
Gary should be ready to contribute.

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Gort's picture

January 11, 2020 at 08:52 am

Leland and NickPerry are spot on. Must get pressure without blitzing AND must contain Wilson, probably with a spy too.

Agree with Cory about Wilson has often played better than Rodgers in the regular season, but, this is a new season and win or go home pressure. Under those circumstances, I think that the Packers are better than the Seahawks. Now, they must live up to those expectations.

GO PACK GO!!

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Minniman's picture

January 11, 2020 at 02:09 pm

Echoing your comments Gort about Rodgers, I'd agree that Wilson has played CONSISTENTLY BETTER than Rodgers this season - sure, point conceded - but Rodgers is Rodgers and this is a playoff game at Lambeau field.......... I don't think that you can forecast with certainty that Wilson will definitely light up Rodgers............. and to that point, the Packers only need Rodgers to play a game at 80% of his 20-teens self and their chances are very good.

.... Frankly, if the O-line plays to it's ceiling (which will open up the run game) then THIS will possibly be the biggest influence on the game. We don't want Rodgers to think that he has to do it all himself.

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Guam's picture

January 11, 2020 at 08:59 am

If KC can't go, this could be Rashan Gary's opportunity to step up. He will have to play significantly more minutes both as an inside rusher and at OLB when Z moves inside. He has had a season to get acclimated to the pros and his new position. I don't expect miracles from him, but he needs to start demonstrating why he was drafted 12th.

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Minniman's picture

January 11, 2020 at 02:15 pm

If that's the case, then he'll also need Lowry, Lancaster, Keke and Adams to play their best games too.

I hope that Clark isn't too dinged up as he can expect Seattle to send a lot of early traffic his way to test his fitness out.

Blunt Lynch early - he likely won't have the gas for 20+ meaningful carries....... if he does then he certifies himself as a first-ballot HOFer in my books. #superman

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Lphill's picture

January 11, 2020 at 09:08 am

I think this could be Gary’s time, we need the Smiths , Gary and Clark to control this game, Contain Wilson on the outsides and rush up the Middle. Make him uncomfortable all game.

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PatrickGB's picture

January 11, 2020 at 10:55 am

Gary is a backup to the Smiths and Fac. I would love to see inside pressure but I doubt it can come from an ordinary rookie like Gary. Maybe down the road he will explode but I don’t see that happening this season.

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Cubbygold's picture

January 11, 2020 at 02:15 pm

For sure. This team is 13-3 this year, now is not the time to change game plan or demand significant playing time from any backup

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PatrickGB's picture

January 11, 2020 at 09:41 am

With both Clark and (and I believe Lancaster) doubtful, our pass rush is going to be diminished. Wilson is a a handful to tackle. And his deep ball is probably one of the best in the league. Their middle linebackers are smart and fast so I don’t see Aaron Jones having the kind of day that we hope he does. I just hope that we can get enough pressure on Wilson and that our offense wakes up. Unlike others I don’t see the weather being a factor in our favor. They beat the Vikings in cold weather in a playoff game a while back. So, right now, I see a close game with us losing at the end. I sure hope not but that’s my take on it.

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PackfanNY's picture

January 11, 2020 at 10:31 am

Not sure where you are getting your information. No one is currently listed as “doubtful” on the injury report. They are listed as “questionable”. There is a difference at least according to the NFL. It is more likely Clark is playing unless he is downgraded.

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PatrickGB's picture

January 11, 2020 at 10:51 am

My bad, yes it’s questionable NOT doubtful. Yet a bad back doesn’t simply get better overnight. And if he plays I wonder how well he plays and for how long?

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PackfanNY's picture

January 12, 2020 at 08:56 pm

Played pretty much the entire game and was effective. Go Pack Go.

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NickPerry's picture

January 11, 2020 at 10:58 am

I think MOST of Aaron Jones having a good day is giving him the ball and not giving up on the run. Jones has only had 4 games in which he's had at least 19 carries and in EVERY one of those games he's gained over 100 yards. 2 of those games came against the Vikings and Kendricks. I get Kendricks was injured in the 2nd game, but he had his share of abuse from Jones.

Seattle is ranked 22nd against the run but they've also given up 22 TD's on the ground..22 TD's!!! Against the pass the Seahawks are actually much worse coming in at 27th in the NFL, 22nd in scoring, and 31st in the entire league (worst of the playoff teams) in sacks.

Sorry Partick GB but I actually think in THOSE conditions tomorrow against THIS defense Aaron Jones is going to go off! And when the Seahawks beat the Vikings on that crazy cold day against the Vikings, they were still fielding the LOB defense...That defense is GONE!

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PatrickGB's picture

January 11, 2020 at 12:58 pm

Nick, no need to be sorry. I really really really hope you are right. But mid twenties temperatures are uncomfortable but not game defining. And the days of the insane Rodgers throwing dimes to his savvy receivers may also be gone.

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NickPerry's picture

January 12, 2020 at 03:08 am

Oh how I miss all of those SAVVY receivers. Jennings, Jones, Nelson, Driver, Finley, and then came Cobb and Adams. Rodgers had so many WR's and Thompson did a remarkable job of drafting receivers who fit McCarthy's offense perfectly. Everybody is gone except Adams and they just haven't been replaced... Not even close.

This is why I haven't laid too much blame on Rodgers. Yes he's had his faults, no doubt about it. But GET the man some weapons in the offseason before ever talking about trading or replacing him. Maybe I'm a fool but I honestly believe if you get him a legit TE and another legit WR to go with Adams, Jones, and Lazard, you'll see a top 3 offense and a 2014 version of Rodgers stats wise. Stay relatively healthy and play defense like this year and it's a SB winning season IMO...

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jannes bjornson's picture

January 12, 2020 at 12:00 pm

15-1 and done w/out a running game and run stopping Defense. Run, Block, Tackle; It never changes.

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Lphill's picture

January 11, 2020 at 11:00 am

He will get an injection , Michael Jordan played in a big game with the flu once and set a record for scoring. Just saying .

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PatrickGB's picture

January 11, 2020 at 01:05 pm

Getting a steroid injection in his back is not advisable. I hope it doesn’t come to that. Heat, stretching and anti inflammatory meds are better. Maybe even visit a chiropractor to help with the process. Clark doesn’t have the flu. Without Clark there is a diminished internal pass rush.

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wildbill's picture

January 11, 2020 at 01:05 pm

I look for a lot of beast mode from Seattle as they try to shorten the game and set up their play action. We haven’t been very stout up the middle and this is going to be a very physical game so let’s hope we set the tone early with good tackling

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PatrickGB's picture

January 11, 2020 at 01:26 pm

The good news is that our run defense seems to have improved over the season. I worry more about Wilson to Medcalf or his other receivers.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

January 11, 2020 at 06:05 pm

I think Fackrell plays a lot of snaps. He might hit 50%.

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mnbadger's picture

January 12, 2020 at 10:38 am

This game is totally about the line of scrimmage. We're better at both of them. We should be able to run and stop the run better while also pass protect and pass rush better. That means we need our players to make more plays. Packers 26 c-gosslings 16.

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davidrawence's picture

January 19, 2020 at 08:30 am

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