Cory’s Corner: Winning starts by stopping Russell Wilson

Last week, everyone focused on Aaron Rodgers’ calf muscle.

And this week, Seattle is either focused on it or is resigned to the hypothesis that the injury is a fable.

But Rodgers isn’t the most important factor in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game. Without a doubt, it’s the Seahawks’ Russell Wilson.

The mark of a great quarterback is how well they do on third down and how well they navigate the red zone. Last week Wilson was 8-for-8 on third down with 199 yards and three touchdowns as Seattle destroyed Carolina. And in the red zone he was technically 1-for-2 while engineering touchdown and field goal drives. The last possession was a Wilson kneel-down to put the Panthers to bed, placing the Seahawks in the NFC title game for the third time in franchise history.

The 26-year-old Wilson has become what everyone thought he wouldn’t. But he has overcome questions about height, arm strength and even not being black enough. He was a Pro Bowler his rookie season in 2012 with a touchdown to interception ratio of 26-10 and it’s only gotten better since. He followed that up with a 26-9 season last year and a 20-7 line this year.

The main thing that opposing teams always used to be afraid of was his versatility. Armed with a power running back like Marshawn Lynch, his read-option became even more deadly and he’s even tougher to tackle in the open field.

But it’s gotten tougher. His accuracy has improved. He completed over 65 percent of his passes eight times this year and he only has two interceptions on passes of 21 yards or more.

In order to crack the Wilson code, you cannot blitz consistently. Like Rodgers, he picks up most of the blitzes pre-snap and after a quick audible, he forces teams to scream “Uncle!”

In order to stop a guy like this, the self-proclaimed “Grunts” up front must get a push on the pocket. Guys like Mike Daniels, Letroy Guion and Datone Jones need to make Wilson and the pocket move, then it’s up to Julius Peppers and Nick Perry to close out the job.

Of course it all hinges on the most underappreciated aspect of this defense this season: the cornerbacks. Dom Capers generally has Tramon Williams or Sam Shields cover without any safety help and they’ve played very well. Against a mediocre receiving corps, expect the secondary to force a few coverage sacks — as long as Wilson isn’t allowed to stray too far from the pocket.

Wilson turns into a magician the way he secretly hides the ball before making a split-second decision on whether to place it into Lynch’s waiting arms or to tuck and run. And if you need a reboot on the virtues of the read-option, go watch some more footage of Colin Kaepernick gliding to the end zone.

But the Packers have the horses this time. The defense continues to get better and the edges are stocked with long-armed play-makers.

The chess match between Capers and Wilson is what wins this game. Capers knows he cannot tip his hand too early by bringing out his full arsenal of exotic blitzes. And Wilson knows that he cannot try and do too much because his height and arm strength could cause him to get in some precarious situations.

This is a winnable game for the Packers as long as they can get inside the mind of Wilson.


Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn


20 thoughts on “Cory’s Corner: Winning starts by stopping Russell Wilson

  1. Great article.

    The Packer’s Defense needs to get off the field on third downs. Outside guys have to be disciplined or Wilson will go off.

    Like to see the Packers open it up early and take a lead. Let’s see if Seattle can play catch up. They are expecting a heavy dose of Lacy. I’d like to see an all out aerial attack instead. Want them to “pick on” Sherman. He ain’t all that.

    Go Pack Go!

  2. Stop Lynch and contain Wilson. These are the keys for the Packers defense in this game. If we stop Lynch but not Wilson we’re still in for a long day. Our defense has steadily improved throughout the season, especially since the mid-season bye week. Now they need to take it to the next level and play championship defense. Daniels, D. Jones, Peppers, or CM3; one of them needs to step and take over this game. Maybe in the nickel or dime package we use Hyde or Hayward to spy on Wilson and keep him contained. Whatever it takes. After losing to Kaepernick and Wilson over the last few seasons, I am expecting Capers to have a plan for stopping Wilson. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ’61

    1. I think CM3 will have a great game. If we take an early lead, we may pull it off. Their defense is so fast and so talented, I’m not truly optimistic on this one. I’m hoping, just hoping Rodgers rubbed the red beard plenty.

  3. Everything I have read elsewhere is all about Seattle winning back to back superbowls . Why should this game be played, Seattle has already won. I can’t stand the media whores. I am so pissed I no longer want a win, I want a complete dismantling of the Seabitches.

  4. I hope that before they left Green Bay, each and every player and coach took a moment to revisit and reflect on the history of their team and absorb what that legacy means and stands for. Far more often than not, this team has risen to the challenge in the face of longer odds than what stands between them now and the ultimate goal they aspire to – the opportunity to vanquish the Seahawks, and in doing so, honor the man that defined this franchise. By playing in a manner that would have made him proud and by earning the chance to bring the symbol of his enduring character and toughness back to its rightful home.

    This game goes beyond football – it is another chapter in the ongoing battle between good and evil.

    1. Well said. And let’s start by dominating the line of scrimmage on O. That is our strength if we use it.

  5. They can keep Lynch from gashing them and staying in their gaps when rushing Wilson. They did a good job against a very similar offense in SF in the playoffs last year and held them to 23 total points with a completely beat up LB core. And SFs OL and pass catchers last year were MUCH better than Seattle’s this year.

    However, that was at home. This is on the road. SFs D was good, SEAs D is incredible. The offense will have to come to play. No turnovers. Getting ahead early.

    Seattle’s not invincible and GB has personnel advantages at QB, OL, WR and ST. So they CAN do it. But I’d give them about a 15% shot with a hurt ARod.

    1. ST being special teams??? Green Bay has one of the most pathetic special teams units in the league.

  6. “Winning Starts by Stopping Russell Wilson”

    I’m not attempting to diminish what Russell Wilson has grown to become as a QB nor am I attempting to diminish the Seahawks as a whole as they have shown their worth.

    I do take objection to how too many have taken a bite of the apple of the media madness and have aided in the creation of a QB who those same seem on a precipice of naming him among the greatest to play the position….stop Wilson or else scenarios.

    I would like to remind these experts of varying levels of fame that we do have a QB that is among already the best to play the game and a team as a whole that loses not because of a lack of ability to inflict, but by an addiction to inflict unto themselves.

    “Losing Starts With the Loss of Discipline”..which has been evident against Wilson and Kapernick in all previous games and will continue unless discipline rules.

    A disciplined defense ‘will’ defeat these type of QB’s and make mortals of them as has been done with the others already…this is the Packers chance to do such to Wilson…the last of the ‘Option’ QB’s immortalized too quickly and to reinforce he who does sit atop the realm.

    Packers 27-20

      1. I believe Lacy can run against Seattle and believe Lynch can run against the Pack. Wilson can scramble and run for good yardage. Rodgers can’t scramble effectively now. Their defense is very fast and hands down, the best. I don’t know how good their O line is. But I expect Lynch to get about 5 yards per carry which simply means they’ll convert third downs. Our receivers are better than theirs but with their defense, God knows how effective they’ll be. We win if Rodgers can score early. If not, I don’t see a lot of wiggle room at all.

        1. Their OL is mediocre to bad. Wilson and Marshawn make that O go. The offensive and defensive personnel on their team complements each other very well. They play field position, convert 3rd downs and generally turn it over on D and don’t hand it over on O.

    1. Rodgersis the best but not with a calf injury. Unless Rodgers scores early and often, I don’t see the Pack winning.

      1. Discipline on the defense and keeping the edge and Wilson from scrambling(which will increase the holding penalty before the ball was thrown flag) would increase the games outcome to come down to which QB can win from the pocket via limited mobility even if that mobility still favors Wilson being uninjured…Rodgers with a calf injury or not is the clear favorite to pull it off.

  7. I’m a Packers fan but am hesitant to say the Pack can pull it off. Lynch and Wilson’s ability to scramble and gain lots of yardage plus Rodgers gimp status are really stacked against the Packers. I haven’t even mentioned the 12th man.

  8. Winning starts with the attitude of how are they going to stop us?. That is my attitude and as long as the play calling and line plays the way its playing of late and we fully use all of our weapons, we can win. With our O line,Lacy, Nelson,Cobb and whoever else may step up, as long as Arod is playing I do not fear anyone. We have shown what we are capable of and our best D is our O. The only thing stopping us is if go away from that for any long stretches.

    See everyone Sunday!!! Go Pack Go

  9. I am thinking that 24 points might well win this game. I don’t think Seattle’s offense on its own (i.e. without short fields and turnovers) can score much more than 21-24. What I am unclear about is our own offense. Cobb was not his normal self in the 1st couple of games. An explosive Cobb, 60 yards from Adams, 40 from the two TEs, some receptions from our RBs, and our offense might look a lot different. Lacy needs to be effective running the ball.

  10. I said earlier and again. This game will win team who possess more patience. To be patient, you have to manifest and/or exercise discipline, and that must be on both side of the ball! Team who will try something fast will find them in problems! I truly believe that Packers have that discipline and patience….

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