GridironGab Week Eleven Preview: Seattle at New Orleans

It seems like a weekly ritual, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll calling his team’s upcoming matchup a challenge; however, he recognizes that Week 11 presents something even more arduous than usual.

Leaving the Pacific Northwest to take on the defending Super Bowl champions.

“This is a really big-time challenge,” said Carroll, at his Wednesday press conference from the Seahawks’ Renton, Wash. training facilities, of facing the New Orleans Saints. “This quarterback. This, this head coach. This defensive coordinator – all of these guys have just expertise out the, out the wazoo.”

The quarterback position is arguably the most noticeable for New Orleans. Drew Brees was crowned last season’s Super Bowl MVP in the team’s 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts and finds himself among the top in the National Football League in passing yards this year.

“They’re averaging almost 50 throws a game the last three weeks, so, why not?” asked Carroll.

“He does everything right. He understands. He does a marvelous job of checking off and adjusting and doing the things that great experienced quarterbacks do. Moves perfectly in the pocket to find his throwing lanes and he has every throw.”

While Brees has excelled this season, his success has been tempered as defenses have used two-deep zones to hang back in coverage and take away the deep ball – a staple in the Saints’ aerial attack last year. Because of this, wide receivers Devery Henderson and Robert Meachem have been relatively quiet. Both had career seasons last year, but both have less than 24 receptions this season.

“You have to do everything,” said Carroll of how to defend Brees. “You can’t just cover. You can’t just rush. You won’t be able to just blitz him and knock him outta the boat because he’ll tear ya up.”

Helping to possibly relieve some defensive attention off Brees will be Reggie Bush. The running back is set to return to the Saints’ lineup after missing the past seven games with a broken fibula.

“He’s just a factor, you know?” asked Seattle’s Carroll, who coached Bush in college at the University of Southern California. “They use him in so many different ways and he’s so explosive that you have to pay attention to him.”

While New Orleans’ offense has been noteworthy, its defense has been even better.

Led by coordinator Greg Williams, the unit’s jumped from 20th in points allowed in the NFL and 25th in yards allowed last season to fourth and third, respectively.

“Over the years, Greg’s done so much stuff and he’s always been on the cutting edge of aggressive attack,” said the Seahawks’ head coach.

Subduing that aggressiveness will be even more important this week than others for Carroll and the Seahawks because starting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has a broken bone in the wrist of his non-throwing hand. However, Carroll won’t change the team’s offensive game plan due to the injury.

“Our plan is that we can do whatever we want to do,” said the head coach.

With the game plan intact, wide receiver Mike Williams will look to continue to be a prominent fixture. His 145 receiving yards in last week’s win in Arizona was the best single-game performance of his four-year career in the NFL and, in Seattle’s last three wins, the wideout has had at least 10 receptions.

Sunday’s kickoff for Seattle (5-4) and New Orleans (6-3) from the Superdome is set for 4:05 p.m. Eastern.

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