So what has changed since the Packers last played at Seattle?
By Tyler Dunne, JSOnline.com
~Green Bay — The Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks meet again. This time, a ticket to the Super Bowl is at stake. Green Bay was beaten badly by Seattle in Week 1, 36-16, at Century Link Field. The Packers were outplayed on both sides of the ball, the offense played scared, Marshawn Lynch had himself a day, one injury proved costly.
Now the two teams will meet in the NFC Championship. What has changed?
Here’s the players’ answers to that question…
RG T.J. Lang: “I don’t think we had an identity yet as an offense and were trying to figure out what our strengths were, what our bread and butter was. We know who we are now, we know who we’ve got. And we like what we’ve got. We know it’s going to be a big challenge. I’m sure they’re a different team, too. But we like the characteristics we have right now as an offense. We just have to make sure we’re always playing with consistency, which we’ve done the last couple weeks.”
CB Tramon Williams: “We’re a different team, no doubt about it. That’s one of the first things I said when we went to Seattle earlier. We went in and we were confident in what we can do. But we didn’t play like we felt we should at that point in time. We knew that we should get better as a whole. Now we feel like we’re a different team than then. So it’s going to be a challenge, regardless.
“You’ve been watching us. We’re different. Different personnel. Different adjustments that we’ve made throughout the year enabling us to play the way we have been. So hopefully it continues.”
DE Datone Jones: “Our team’s chemistry. We’re very dialed in. We’re very focused right now. It’s playoff football. Whatever happened in the regular season, nothing matters anymore. It’s all about making it to the Super Bowl right now for both teams.”
DB Micah Hyde: “I think some personnel’s different. Some of our schemes are different. We just feel like we’re gelling together at this point of the season, rather than the first game.
“We felt like if we handled our business, we’d get this opportunity. We honestly didn’t know who it’d be against but we knew that Seattle was a good football team. We didn’t picture this game. We just knew we needed to handle our business.”
TE Andrew Quarless: “First game of the year, coming out of camp, you don’t really have a true identity. This offense, we’re based on grit, we’re based on discipline. My discipline was lacking today. I was a little overzealous with my penalties but you really can’t make mistakes in the offense.”
And with this “identity” change, Lang sees an offense that’s a lot more willing to run the ball, to stay balanced. On Sunday, Green Bay had 30 rushing attempts to 35 pass attempts. The presence of Eddie Lacy and the improved offensive line has changed the look of this Packers offense in January.
Any outside “finesse” label the Packers may have in the past — through three straight postseasons — was shed “a long time ago,” Lang says. When the Packers want to run the ball, they’ve been able to. The play-calling flow has changed.
In Week 17, they had a 100-yarder rusher against a defense that hadn’t allowed one all season. On Sunday, Lacy averaged 5.3 yards per carry and Aaron Rodgers had the necessary time to convert key third downs late.
“The way we’ve been balanced running the ball and passing the ball effectively,” Lang said, “guys just making plays when we need them the most, we don’t go out and throw the ball 50, 60 times anymore like we would have done in the past. We run the ball. And everything starts with that. It’s very important for us as an offense, to be well-balanced and not be one-dimensional throwing the ball. That’s been part of our identity for a while now and it’s something that you definitely like to have.”