RENTON – Be quick, but don’t hurry.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll’s defense will be tasked with slowing down one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL on Sunday, when New England’s version of fastbreak football travels to CenturyLink Field.
The Patriots, led by perhaps the best quarterback in the game right now in Tom Brady, have been leaning on the no-huddle offense to keep opponents off balance.
Oregon coach Chip Kelly visited with New England coach Bill Belichick during the past few offseasons, and the Patriots have used some of the Ducks’ up-tempo style of offense to churn out points and tire out opponents.
New England has the top-rated offense through five games this season, averaging 33 points and 439 yards a game. The Patriots have a league-leading 151 first downs, and are averaging 165 yards rushing a contest, No. 3 in the league.
But it’s New England’s ability to get off a play every 15 to 17 seconds that has the league’s defenses on their heels.
Carroll said the Patriots are the one NFL team that has come closest to mirroring the type of speed Oregon plays with in college football.
Of course, Carroll can use his experience at USC in facing the Ducks’ high-powered offense annually when his defense takes on the Patriots this weekend.
“We know what it is,” Carroll said. “We know what they’re going to do, and how they’re going to do it when they speed it up. And we’ll see if we can match it, and if we can, then we’ll have a chance to play pretty good.
“The point is that we can’t let their tempo dictate our play.”
Seattle safety Earl Thomas said the key for the Seahawks’ defense will be getting prepared and in position before the ball is snapped.
“It just really challenges you mentally in getting lined up,” Thomas said. “When you watch on tape, a lot of their explosive plays just come on guys who really don’t have a clue of what they’re doing out there, like busted assignments.
“So we just try to eliminate that, and make sure we’re still playing fast, even though they’re going up-tempo on us.”
The Patriots’ ability to communicate on the road when they run the no-huddle offense could be challenged by the 12th man at CenturyLink Field, with the raucous crowd noise affecting Brady’s ability to audible at the line of scrimmage.
But Belichick said his team is prepared for that.
“We have our way with dealing with it on the road, and we have our way with dealing with it at home,” Belichick said. “Obviously the noise level is different so that can involve relaying calls from one person to another, as opposed to everyone being able to hear them from the quarterback.
“Sometimes it involves signaling, or sometimes we have plays called in other manners so that we can communicate it.”
Added receiver Wes Welker: “Obviously, in Seattle it’s going to be a tough deal just because the crowd is so loud and it’s a tough environment and everything else. We’ve just got to make sure we’re practicing the best we can and do what we can to make sure we’re ready to go.”
Brady, who will play at CenturyLink Field for the first time in his career, said he’s more concerned with how New England’s offense plays against Seattle’s talented defense than the speed the Patriots play at.
“I think good offensive football is about execution,” Brady said. “It’s not about how fast you play or how slow you play; it’s about how well you do your job and how well you execute the play that’s being called.”
THURMOND READIES FOR HIS RETURN
Carroll told reporters on Wednesday that cornerback Walter Thurmond is expected to be healthy enough to begin practicing next week after spending the first six weeks of the regular season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.
In his third season out of the University of Oregon, Thurmond has been recovering from a broken leg he suffered against Cleveland last October. Thurmond has been used at nickel cornerback in passing situations in the past, and would create added depth at cornerback for Seattle if he’s healthy enough to join the team in a week.
“He’s ready to go when the PUP status is lifted,” Carroll said. “We’ll see how that works out. That’s according to Walter. He’s really cranked up and ready to go.
“We’ve really encouraged him to work really hard in his rehab so that when he gets back, he’s ready to play. So we’d like to make him available. If we can get through and have that opportunity to bring him back, it’s a great boost to us. We think he’s a very fine football player, and would really help us.”
Center Max Unger (hip), defensive tackles Jaye Howard (foot) and Clinton McDonald (groin) did not practice Wednesday. Lemuel Jeanpierre worked at center with the starting unit with Unger not available. Running back Marshawn Lynch (back) was a limited participant in practice. Offensive guard John Moffitt (knee) has been ruled out for a third straight game. Paul McQuistan is expected to start at right guard in place of Moffitt.
Led by quarterback Tom Brady (102.8 rating), receiver Wes Welker (No. 2 in receptions and No. 6 in yards) and running back Stevan Ridley (No. 5 in rushing), the New England Patriots have put together the top-ranked offense in the NFL. A closer look:
CategoryPer gameNFL rank
First downs151No. 1
Turnover ratioplus-10No. 1*
* Tied with AtlantaEric D. Williams: 253-597-8437 email@example.com @eric_d_williams blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks