Eagles running backs LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles pace a Philadelphia offense that has one speed, thanks to coach Chip Kelly.
RENTON — Recognizing that more NFL teams are transitioning to up-tempo offenses, Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn did what adept coaches do: Adjust.
“We didn’t get in a defensive huddle the whole training camp, knowing that there are teams we’d have to be ready for,” Quinn said Thursday. “Not necessarily just Philadelphia, but teams that we are going to play this year.”
Preparation for defending against a fast pace actually began in OTA’s, according to Quinn. Through three quarters of the regular season, it’s proven effective. Facing the Green Bay Packers in the opener, the Seahawks held in check QB Aaron Rodgers, a frontrunner for NFL MVP, in a 36-16 win. In Week 3, Seattle topped the Denver Broncos’ no-huddle scheme led by QB Peyton Manning, 26-20 in overtime, a little more than seven months after blowing out the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.
But Seattle’s defense, ranked third in the NFL in points allowed (18.4 per game), will receive perhaps the greatest test of endurance when it squares off with the 9-3 Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field (1:25 p.m. PT, FOX).
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll didn’t seem worried Wednesday.
“We’ve been in the no-huddle defensive mode for so long that we’re familiar with how this goes,” Carroll said. “We’re not concerned about that, really. We practice like that all the time.”
Said CB Richard Sherman:
“It doesn’t change anything for us. We’ve dealt with tempo for a couple of years now. We’ve dealt with the Patriots’ tempo, Denver a few times with their tempo. It doesn’t change a thing for us. We play disciplined, sound football. It gives you more opportunities.”
Perhaps SS Kam Chancellor described best the way to stop Chip Kelly’s attack. The coach implemented it to near perfection at Oregon before making the jump to the NFL.
“Know your fits, and make your hits,” Chancellor said.
The Eagles; No. 2 running back is a similarly-fleet footed Darren Sproles.
“You’re going to see some shaking and baking from those guys in this game,” Carroll said of McCoy and Sproles.
Along with WR Jeremy Maclin, the pair pose perhaps the biggest threat to disrupting a Seahawks defense that has allowed a combined six points in the past two games after MLB Bobby Wagner returned from a foot injury. SS Kam Chancellor in recent weeks also appears closer to 100 percent after offseason hip surgery and assorted injuries plagued much of his season.
In turn, the Seahawks, after a 3-3 start, have won five of their last six to improve to 8-4 with four games left in the regular season. They trail the fading Cardinals by one game in the NFC West, with a Dec. 21 matchup looming against Arizona at University of Phoenix Stadium. That could potentially decide the division champion.
First, they must hold down Kelly’s offense.
“We understand they have to deal with us as much as we have to deal with them,” Sherman said. “It’s not like they’re any less human than we are.”
CB Jeremy Lane (glute) and tight end Cooper Helfet (ankle) didn’t participate in Thursday’s soggy, cold outdoor practice . . . DE/DT Michael Bennett was also held out, though he’s often sat out practices because of a bothersome toe this season and has yet to miss a game . . . C Max Unger (ankle/knee) didn’t practice and isn’t expected back until the Dec. 14 game against San Francisco, at the earliest . . . Limited Thursday were Byron Maxwell (shin) and Marshawn Lynch (back).