DANNY AND GALLANT

Seahawks’ key to beating Aaron Rodgers? Stopping the run, says Billick

Jan 7, 2020, 12:19 PM
Seahawks' K.J. Wright, Packers' Aaron Rodgers...
The Seahawks will have to plan for a strong run game behind Aaron Rodgers. (Getty)
(Getty)

The Seahawks are preparing for a playoff meeting with one of the most productive quarterbacks in NFL history, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers.

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The 36-year-old Rodgers led the Packers to a 13-3 record and the NFC’s No. 2 seed to get a bye in the first round of the postseason, topping 4,000 passing yards for the eighth time in his 15th year career. Seattle no doubt has to be concerned with Rodgers’ arm and his ability to find his receivers, but there’s something different about Green Bay’s offense this time around.

For just the fifth time since Rodgers became the Packers’ starting quarterback in 2008 and first time since 2014, Green Bay has a 1,000-yard rusher in the backfield. That would be Aaron Jones, a third-year pro who ran for 1,084 yards during the regular season and tied for the league lead with 16 rushing touchdowns.

The combination of Rodgers’ experience and the presence of a run game stands out to NFL Network analyst and Super Bowl-winning coach Brian Billick, who joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant on Tuesday morning.

“Well, you talk about one of the great quarterbacks of all-time and they have some diversity in their offense in terms of their ability to run the ball,” Billick said, “and obviously what Aaron Rodgers has done for years, take a group of receivers and find talents from each of them to be able to hurt you in so many different ways – that’s really the challenge for Seattle.”

So what’s the key for the Seahawks on defense? Billick said if Green Bay can get its run game going, Seattle will be in for a long day.

“You’re just gonna have to be assignment, alignment and technique sound in what you do and make (Rodgers) earn those throws,” Billick said. “Job one really of course is can you stop the run with a standard-spacing front? If they can get the run going at all and you have to start inserting that extra guy in the box, that’s when you’re going to have some vulnerability.”

The Seahawks’ defense has something on its side that could work in Seattle’s favor, though.

“Seattle, as you well know, their defensive scheme is pretty straightforward, pretty basic, and that can be a strength because there’s only so much (to it),” Billick said. “A lot of teams can get a little convoluted in terms of the scheme they have, personnel or formation. Seattle kinda keeps it all in front of them, which is a good thing. But then again, now you gotta matchup. And the hard part is you’re really not gonna trick Aaron Rodgers. I mean, what on a football field has Aaron Rodgers not seen?”

You can hear the full interview with Billick, including his thoughts on the Seahawks’ own run game and their commitment to it, beginning at the 26:30 mark in this podcast.

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