Key Matchup: Corey Linsley v. Brandon Mebane

downloadTomorrow night’s game will feature a first start for Packers rookie center Corey Linsley. Bruce Irvin of the Seattle Seahawks has said that he would be “praying for” Linsley because it is going to be a long night. While it is true that the matchup between Linsley and Mebane will be a key to one or the other team’s success, there is reason to believe that Linsely can hold his own when the curtain is pulled back on the 2014 season.

But Linsley, out of Ohio State, is not gonna be the kinda kid that runs scared from a fight. The position of center is played from the mind, through the heart and out to the limbs and I think Linsley has enough to get it done. Here are three reasons I think Linsley will be alright:

Reason #1: The Play Calling

Mike McCarthy is going to have to, to some extent, play call Linsley into success. Now this doesn’t mean that Linsley is not going to have to do his job…he is. But especially in the opening series or two, the play calls can help calm Linsley down and let him settle in. I would like nothing more than to see the first play from scrimmage a play-action to Eddie Lacy with Aaron Rodgers throwing a quick slant to Cobb. Let the Seahawks defensive line waste their energy thinking their brutality will be effective, and use our MVP caliber quarterback and pro-bowl caliber receivers take some of the pressure off initially. Then, as the defense is forced to adjust to off tackle running, slants and passes to Lacy out of the backfield, go ahead and strike with the inside run or take a 5 step drop.

Reason #2: The Guards

On either side of Linsley will be TJ Lang and Josh Sitton. These two veterans will be invaluable to Corey Linsley during the course of the game. The communication between the center and the guards is crucial and you can bet that Linsley has been spending extra time with TJ and Josh in the filmroom this week. There will be times when Linsley is exposed and there is nothing Sitton and Lang can do about that. Add to that the crowd noise that makes communication itself difficult and this will be a tough test for Linsley. If he can get through the first series, with a chance to debrief with these guys on the sidelines, he can settle in and just play football. And believe me, this guy is a football player.

Reason #3: Aaron Rodgers

rodgers mcIt was Aaron Rodgers who said that himself and the two guards would be the best resource for Corey Linsley as he starts for the first time. Rodgers will help Linsley by calling out protections and calling audibles when the play call would lead to disaster. But keep in mind that a LOT of Linsley’s success is going to come as his confidence grows. If the Packers can force the Seattle corners and linebackers back and out, it opens the door for some runs up the middle. If Aaron sees this and can get such a play on, Linsley ends up one on one with the linebacker out of position. Cue Eddie Lacy for 3-4 yards up the middle and Linsley becomes a believer…in himself. The key to this game is putting Linsley in positions where he can be successful (and Mike McCarthy has said that is the coach’s job – see above) and then just let the kid play.

So the Packers will need to put Corey Linsley in position to be successful. Its a team sport so Linsley will rely heavily on Aaron Rodgers and his two stellar guards. But in the end, Linsley will be called upon to win some battles, play smart, and play sound. If he does so, it bodes very well for the Pack.


Key Matchup: Corey Linsley v. Brandon Mebane
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