Packers Xs and Os Film Session: Corey Linsley May Not Relinquish Job

Photo credit: John Konstantaras/Getty Images

The center position for the Green Bay Packers has been a case of musical chairs over the last four years. You could even joke around and say it was like the drummers for Spinal Tap.

In other words, they haven’t had much continuity there since the Super Bowl run during the 2010 season.

Aaron Rodgers has been pretty vocal, for his standards, about wanting consistency at the center position over the last couple of seasons.

It seems like the Packers did find their center of the future this preseason when J.C. Tretter was playing very well. However, in typical Spinal Tap drummer fashion, he broke a bone in his leg and went on the designated-to-return injured reserve list. He hasn’t played since while he is healing.

In Tretter’s place, rookie Corey Linsley was thrust into action. When he was first asked to start, the mentality around 1265 Lombardi Ave. was to have him hold down the fort just well enough to keep QB1 alive and upright.

Now, after five games into the season, Linsley has emerged as a solid player along the offensive line. In fact, I argue that he may remain the starting center for the duration of the season.


Two main reasons. First, his play has been solid, and he is playing like an NFL starter. Second, QB1 wants continuity at the position, so why mess with something while it is working.

The film never lies, so let’s look at some key plays showcasing Linsley’s play last week against the Minnesota Vikings. He’s #63 for those not familiar with him yet. After watching these videos, you’ll be very comfortable with him as the Packers’ center.

In the play below, the Packers are running a zone to the field side. The Vikings are in a four-man front, and Linsley called an even front, meaning he was uncovered. In this zone scenario, the center must advance to the next level and seal off the will linebacker. Linsley does just that, creating an excellent lane for Eddie Lacy run through untouched. He showed good mobility, awareness, and vision.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind
Credit: NFL Game Rewind

In this next play below, the Packers are once again running a zone play against a four-man front, but Linsley called an odd front, meaning he needs to block the nose tackle over him. He made a good push and won his battle on the line of scrimmage, letting Lacy decisively hit the hole.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind
Credit: NFL Game Rewind

The zone play was clearly the game plan against the Vikings, and in the third play below, watch Linsley put the nose tackle on his back. It was a combination of both of the players being slightly off balance, but it’s extremely important to finish a play in a dominant position, and Linsley did exactly that.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind
Credit: NFL Game Rewind

No film session is complete without showing a touchdown. In the play below, the Packers once again come out in the zone run to the field side, but Lacy cut it back to the boundary for pay dirt. His cutback was possible because the Packers’ offensive line moved the Vikings’ defensive line so far off the line of scrimmage, the was no one left in the boundary. Linsley pushed his man at least six yards off the line of scrimmage.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind
Credit: NFL Game Rewind

Here’s one last play for you. It shows, once again, the zone play. I chose this play because it shows Linsley’s nimbleness and ability to block in space. Even though he has a nose tackle over him, he called an even front, which means he’s responsible for the linebacker. To get to the linebacker, he has to evade the nose tackle and engage the linebacker on the run. Once he engages the linebacker, watch him control his man and maintain the block. Linsley sucessfully stays with his man, and even manages to spin him, when the linebacker tries to shake the block. This block was key and allowed James Starks to gain an additional 10 yards.

Credit: NFL Game Rewind
Credit: NFL Game Rewind

I have no idea what Mike McCarthy will do at the center position once J.C. Tretter is cleared to play, but the film on Linsley is very positive. Linsley has earned the right to start in Tretter’s absence. We all know how loyal of a person McCarthy is (I submit Dom Capers to the court as Exhibit A), so who does he show his loyalty this time: Tretter or Linsley?

At this point, Linsley is actually the more seasoned veteran at the center position, and he’s beginning to play like one, too.

I believe the GIFs embedded above to be fair use under the premise of being short clips of the original broadcast that are transformative for news reporting, commentary, critique, illustration, and teaching purposes.


Jay Hodgson is an independent sports blogger writing for and

Follow Jay on twitter at @jys_h.


16 thoughts on “Packers Xs and Os Film Session: Corey Linsley May Not Relinquish Job

  1. Great stuff, Jay. Thanks. Love the X and O features.

    My pessimist side keeps saying, “Maybe an injury-ravaged Vikings team isn’t the best measuring stick.” But there is no question that Linsley has been an extremely pleasant surprise, and even against the very good defenses he never really had a BAD game. I suppose this is what all of the TT haters have come to expect from mid-to-late round Ted Thompson picks, right?

    If I’m MM, the biggest question on my mind right now might be, “I wonder if Tretter can play swing tackle?” I’ve lost all hope for Sherrod, and Tretter played tackle at Cornell. Might want to give Tretter a few reps on the outside…

    If Barclay were still in uniform, this position group would be rock-solid. As it is, GB is set up very well for the next 5 years. The tackles are good, with significant upside. The guard tandem might be the best in the league. Throw in Linsley, Tretter and Barclay and that’s a heck of a group.

    1. I thought about the possibility of Tretter playing swing tackle. It could work, but I have two doubts. He doesn’t have the bulk to play tackle and he can’t stay healthy. If he can add bulk and nip the injury bug, he’s got a shot.

      1. Fair enough. Then again, the Packers list Don Barclay at 6’4″ 305, and he was able to at least hold his own at right tackle. The Packers list Tretter at 6’4″ 307, and I think that Tretter probably has a little more “pop” in his punch than Barclay does. Bakhtiari is listed at 6’4″ 310.

        With the Packers running their version of the ZBS, I don’t think they need (or even want) quite as much bulk as some of the more “power oriented” teams.

        1. Well, you got me there. They do have similar measureables, so I was incorrect. You can probably throw my opinion out the window, then. Just looking at Tretter, he doesn’t look 307 to me, which is where I was wrong. If he is 307, I think he needs to bulk up to 320 on his frame before he can be successful at tackle.

      2. How valuable would a guy be if he could serviceably back up all 5 spots on the OL? (Rhetorical question, of course)

  2. This is good stuff – thanks. Given the Tretter injury, Linsley has been a real bonus. The one lesson that I take from his availability for the O-line is that he is a true center. I like the idea of drafting athletes and training them up but I do think that the Packers approach of remapping players to play different positions has been problematic on both the O and D lines. Linsley knows how to be a center and has been doing it for most of his career. He was able to step in because he knows the position. I doubt that we see Tretter push Linsley out from center.

  3. I have been an advocate for playing a true center at center for these last few turnstile seasons. Now we have Linsley and it is working out well. When Trettor returns he can step into the role that Barclay would have filled if he were not injured. Trettor was a Tackle in college so he can backup there and maybe at guard. If Trettor comes back and plays center can we expect Linsley to be a backup Tackle or Guard? At this point I don’t think so. Keep Linsley at Center. Trettor to backup at Tackle or Guard if necessary. Worry about next season when it gets here but we could have Barclay and Trettor for depth by then and chuck Sherrod. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ’61

    1. Excellent!! I think that’s exactly what they are going to do. Yes, I would suspect Sherrod is history and that would be a good thing at this point. Barclay and Tretter as backups next year? Pretty damn good!!

      1. I will put up with the proofreading. These are some of the best articles about the packers. I love these articles! Thanks for writing them!

  4. I saw Linsley at training camp. He is one of the strongest guys I’ve seen in green and gold for some time. At least the kind of strength you can see at a football practice. I was impressed with his anchor. when he set in pass pro, not even the 300 ponders were moving him. He has pancaked a few d lineman every week. It looks like when he gets a hold of them, they are not getting away. When he got the call to start, I mentioned that he might not give the job back to Tretter. What a wonderful problem to have!

  5. Linsleys scouting report coming in was that he was a good run blocker but iffy on pass blocking. I think itd be more relevant to see how hes held up protecting Rodgers. I believe he was the one who got called for a hold in the bears game on what couldve been Rodgers’ best TD pass of his career…

  6. Couple of things. 1) The 5 gifs show successful running plays: all are zone blocking; all have the QB under center, not in shotgun. Just an observation: I just posted statistics on this site that purport to show that Lacy has a higher ypc average from shotgun than with the QB under center, which surprised me, so I’m not taking sides on this issue. The statistics were for all runs, and not divided by whether the play was power or zone.

    2) If Tretter is equal to Linsley, play Linsley for continuity and to let Tretter back up C, G and maybe, maybe, tackle. If Tretter is better, play Tretter and remind MM that Tretter has to BEAT Linsley out. Remember, Tretter looked good but he has not played a single snap in a real NFL game. I have no idea whether Tretter can play tackle. Linsley by most reports has been solid in pass protection. IIRC, Linsley’s only negative PFF score was in the game with the penalties on him.

    3) When Tretter comes back and he shows he can play, we can dispense with either Gerhart or Lane Taylor. Next year, if and when Barclay comes back, we can dispense with both.

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