2. The Seahawks are expecting the unexpected from New England’s offense.
After having Tom Brady under center for nearly two decades, the Patriots’ offense looks different in 2020 with Cam Newton taking over the job after Brady left in free agency.
The Seahawks know Newton well having played the Panthers numerous times while Newton was there, including twice during his 2015 MVP season, but that doesn’t mean they know what to expect. That’s particularly true because, as Carroll notes, the Patriots, “adapt to opponents as well as anybody in the game.”
Bill Belichick, perhaps more than any NFL coach, is will to drastically change the game plan from week to week depending on what an opponent does well or depending on what he has available—one obvious example is how much New England’s offense changed early in the 2016 season when Brady was suspended.
In New England’s season-opening win over Miami, the Patriots attempted only 19 passes while they ran 42 times, including a team-high 15 carries by Newton, who had 75 rushing yards and two touchdowns. But just because the Patriots were so run heavy in Week 1, Carroll knows they can’t assume they’ll see the same on Sunday.
They’ve shifted their focus on how they ran their offense in the first game,” Carroll said. “They can do anything in the second game. I leave it wide open to Coach Belichick… We’ve got to see what they do this time around. There’s not enough games for us in their new thinking to know what to expect here. We’ll have to adapt at game time.
“We do have a real good background with Cam, but we don’t know what they’re going to do with him. It’s only one game. We don’t even have the benefit of the preseason games to try to kind of figure it out. And they have been notorious for changing from one week to the next in how they approach their opponents and all. So we have to go into this game with a wide open-look, it’s almost like a first game. We have some information of course—they showed they really want to run the football, ran it 42 times in the game, which is a great commitment. But we’ll see. We don’t know.”
3. Injury updates.
The Seahawks are hopeful that they’ll get back one player who was unavailable in the opener due to injury, receiver Phillip Dorsett II, while the status of two other players remains less clear. Defensive end Rasheem Green left Sunday’s opener with a shoulder injury, and though he was able to return to the game, there have been some lingering issues and his status likely won’t be know until late in the week. That’s also the case with tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, who missed the opener with a pectoral injury.
“It’s going to take all week for us to figure it out with (Green), see how he comes back,” Carroll said. “He got some tests done today, so we won’t know. Otherwise we’re in pretty good shape. We’re going to get Phillip Dorsett back on the field today, see how he does getting ready for the weekend. So we’re in pretty good shape. Cedric is still going to be hampered a little bit. We won’t know until the end of the week on Cedric.”
4. The Seahawks are practicing indoors, but hopeful air quality will improve by Sunday.
With air quality still a problem in Seattle due to the wildfires all over the west coast, the Seahawks moved Wednesday’s practice indoors—they also practiced inside on Friday—and Carroll said they have been in contact with the NFL, which is monitoring the situation leading up to Sunday’s game. As of now the weather forecast calls for things to improve by the weekend, so Carroll is hopeful there won’t be issues by Sunday.
“We’re in direct connection with (the league), and they are monitoring what’s going on, as we are, as well,” Carroll said. “Hopefully we get a good shift in the weather here by the weekend. It looks like it could change tomorrow some and into the weekend, but we’re very cognizant of it and working to figure it out.”
5. Carroll wants fans to get loud even though they can’t be at the game.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Seahawks will play in an empty CenturyLink Field on Sunday and for at least their next two home games, and the Seahawks will miss having the loudest fans in the NFL cheering them on in person.
“This is one of the great spectacles in sport, playing here in front of our fans,” Carroll said, “Notably the loudest venue that you can find. The excitement level and the energy and the connection with the people of this area has been unique and extraordinary, nothing but a spectacle.
But while fans can’t be attendance, Carroll still wants fans to make some noise when the Seahawks make big plays this weekend.
“That doesn’t mean that when we score or something, make a big play, sack the quarterback, people can’t go out on their front steps and start screaming, yell out their windows,” Carroll said. “I’m hoping that’s what happens. I’m thinking that should be part of the game, your responsibility to connect with your fellow fans out the window. I hope that happens. We need you. We’ll feel you in some regard. We’re sorry that we won’t be able to play in front of our fans, but we’ll get back to it. In the meantime, be creative, figure it out. Let’s go, rock the house and the neighborhood, wherever you are, the buildings you’re in, all that, make it fun.”
6. The Seahawks will look to get more players involved in the defensive line rotation.
Carroll generally prefers a deep defensive line rotation that keeps everyone fresh, but in Seattle’s opener, defensive end Benson Mayowa played 90 percent of the defensive snaps, while Bruce Irvin played 85 percent. Irvin’s snap count will always be a little higher because he plays strongside linebacker and end, but Carroll still wants to see that rotation get deeper going forward.
“I don’t want them to play that much, really,” Carroll said. “We’d like to rotate better. We had some new guys that were there—Damontre (Moore) hadn’t been around a long time, we didn’t rely on him much. We want our rotations better than that, more evenly matched if we can. Sometimes you can, sometimes we can’t. Bruce is double dipping because he’s playing the outside ‘backer spot, he’s really uniquely qualified to do that. He’s getting a lot of plays there, too. We just got to figure it out as we go.”