Green Bay Packers-Seattle Seahawks Week 1 game preview
Four Downs returns with previews for every game of the 2014 Green Bay Packers season. We start as the NFL starts, with a loud Thursday night in Seattle and something about the defending champions.
1. Farther north and west than any other trip in the NFL, the rolling city offers a passage to the Pacific and beyond. It’s called the Emerald City because of the lush green forests making up the region. It’s a gateway to Alaska, to the ocean and its endless horizon, to the great unknown, to nature’s unexplored or far away beauty.
Seattle is a slender isthmus surrounded by water and mountains to the west and east. There are endless possibilities surrounded up close by natural obstacles. Things you don’t tame, things you live with and around. Seattle’s population keeps growing. People keep moving there.
CenturyLink Field is open on both ends and closed off by man-made walls and reverberating noise on its sides. It is one of the best looking venues in the league. It is, lately, a gateway to nothing but escape or retreat. From above it has the look of a gaping mouth of a blue whale ready at all times to slam shut for 60 minutes, spitting teams back out afterwards into the rest of their schedule dazed, wondering where the bite marks came from, and why there’s all this ringing in their eardrums.
There is so much possibility, just out past the physical boundaries, from Seattle’s post in the Pacific Northwest. Teams nowadays show up to CenturyLink knowing about the dangerous men looking to lay out destruction like a welcome mat. Oftentimes they can’t be avoided. Those welcomes turn to parting shots. But stadiums and teams, like the mountains and water surrounding Seattle, can be settled. Even this particular one in this particular city, on this particular Thursday night.
2. It will present itself in its usual frenzied state on the shores of the Puget Sound, nestled on a sliver of land between mountains in the distance, on a field below mountains of sound.
For the same reason you might eat the yellow and green Skittles first, sometimes it’s best to get the worst things out of the way. To knock out the most difficult or trying tasks on the schedule and move forward. CenturyLink Field and the Seahawks don’t have to be tamed forever. To win the Packers have to make some of it theirs for part of the night. Seattle play like themselves in Seattle and anywhere else. You don’t want to play like Seattle.
3. Pete Carroll is a new age coach whose team plays a great deal of unwaveringly straightforward football. There’s nothing to overthink. There isn’t a team in the league right now that knows itself as well. Seattle is purposefully trying to make you feel bad feelings, make you feel like quitting before the game ends. Seattle is all edge and edgy, violent twitches of pride in what they are and what they do. They are many parts flying around and screaming and neon-bright colors, parts booming noise with each furious hit. They’re part youth, part confidence in a certain way of doing things. That’s what worked best last.
In many ways they’re playing a game of runs and they’re selfish about them. Seattle hordes each momentum shift until they’ve got a garage full of it. Then they have you open the door and watch and laugh as it all spills over you.
They pound, pound, pound away, hit you over the top on some long play-action post or Percy Harvin wide open spaces nightmare screen, then they kick off and attack, and sack, and force terrible mistakes, and pound again and again and score again and then send out the defense again, and you’re falling behind and the crowd’s getting louder and the defense is pinning their ears to the back of their heads for the rest of the game and, well, you can’t really stop an earthquake after it starts, can you, or a python from doing the only thing it knows and squeezing, right? Last season Seattle did their thing better than any other team did theirs. We’ve seen how that sort of game goes. You don’t want to play that kind of game.
4. Can Green Bay establish their tempo? Can they dictate pace and make the most of every possession from the start? Seattle is great and not perfect. They are versatile and smart. Defensively they are rarely on their heels because they’re so often able to force style of play to their liking, especially at home. Can Green Bay make it, if not a full-blown shootout, a game where Seattle can’t be exactly who they are used to being? Can, instead of the other way around, Seattle be the team feeling uncomfortable, rushed, unsure? Can a Packers defense we’re told will look different come Week 1 take advantage of a suspect offensive line? Can pass rushers get and hang on to Russell Wilson before he breaks free and finds someone open downfield?
Last season it got easier and easier to see how exhaustingly difficult a place Seattle would be to leave with a win. We knew that from the moment we heard Green Bay would start their 2014 campaign up in the dark castle on the rocks overlooking the league like a Final Boss stage; a shadow stretching to all corners of the NFL, whispers to avoid the place like it’s the Last House on the Left.
Seattle, as a place and team, has the feeling of looking head-on into darkness and knowing something’s out there. Something’s coming, in other words, and Seattle makes you head up there to find out for yourself.
People keep moving there, though; teams will of course have to keep playing there. Seattle’s not going to change what it is. If they don’t have to, there’s a chance you’re swallowed up in the sound and wake up in next week. For change to come it will be on the visitors to play like they aren’t from around there – to play like Not The Seahawks.
The Packers will live and move on because it’s Week 1. It’s a gigantic first week, though, and you’re damn right we’ll happily overreact to escaping Seattle with more than the same lesson, reinforced and re-taught by the same teachers, starting another year the same way the last ended.
We’ll say that about Seattle, finally, as it begins its title defense as a team and city and general league presence: Like many of the best worst tasks out there, we’ll learn something from the Packers starting in the middle of pure, screeching chaos and trying to find the fastest, quietest way out.