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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.——————