Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has some familiarity with the Patriots. He coached the team from 1997 to 1999, amassing a 27-21 regular-season record, including two playoff appearances. He was also the bridge from Bill Parcells to Bill Belichick which, at the very least, makes him a footnote in New England history or a Trivial Pursuit question.
Either way, come Sunday Carroll, whose background is defense, will try to shutdown the Patriots' high-powered offense. This is hardly a secret. And apparently, Carroll saw the Boston Globe story on New England's up-tempo style. (Either that or he had some clue based on game film and his stint at USC).
"The Oregon Ducks. They're the ones that play similar to this," Carroll said, according to ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss. "I'm sure there are some other college teams that have done it, but there is nobody in the league that is close at this time. But there will be. They will affect other people, I'm sure, because they've had so much success already. It's their willingness to go this fast as consistently as they have demonstrated that separates them from other teams."
We mentioned on Wednesday that the Pats, a week after logging 89 offensive snaps in a blowout win over the Broncos, could slow things down in Seattle, primarily because it's hard to replicate every game but also due to the fact that CenturyLink Field is one of the loudest stadiums in the league. Communication is vital -- and Sunday it'll be difficult.
Plus, the Seahawks' defense isn't a bunch of stiffs, either. They're one of the NFL's most physical units.
"(Seattle's cornerbacks) are long, they're big, they're extremely long, 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 corners, you just don't see those very often," coach Bill Belichick said on Wednesday. "And to see them on one team, they're just hard to get away from. They're big, they're physical, they take up a lot of space. A lot of guys just aren't used to working against that sized player, a 220-pound corner, there's not a lot of them out there.
"I think that's a challenge, because it's a little bit unique," he continued. "They're also good tacklers, good run force players. For a quarterback it's hard, because it's no different than playing against a taller middle linebacker, a guy like (Brian) Urlacher or somebody like that in there that's 6-4, 6-5, right in the middle of the field. Their range, their height, it just makes those throws in the middle of the field a little tougher. Well, you're throwing the ball outside on a 6, 6-2, 6-4 corner, it's a little bit different deal getting it over him, or trying to run some high-low combinations out there, it's just a much bigger guy."
I think we get it: the Seahawks' cornerbacks are huge. And that physicality not only shows itself at the end of plays with tackles, but also just after the snap -- manhandling wide receivers and tight ends at the line of scrimmage disrupts timing, which is a big part of this offense, especially when it goes to up-tempo.
So this is just another variable in the pre-game chess match. That said, we're guessing Belichick and Tom Brady come up with something between now and kickoff, even if that means running the ball 70 times in a row if it increases their chances of winning.