Entering the 2020 campaign, overcoming the lack of preseason games was expected to be one of the biggest challenges across the entire league, especially because it prevented every team from scouting their upcoming opponent early in the season.
For the Seahawks, they clearly didn't need any additional footage to game plan against the Falcons in Week 1, as they convincingly dominated through all four quarters. That said, they'll be facing a completely different offense during their second game of the season against one of the AFC's perennial powerhouses.
With future Hall of Famer Tom Brady departing for Tampa Bay over the offseason, New England was forced to search for a new quarterback, ultimately deciding on veteran Cam Newton. Utilizing the three-time Pro Bowler's impressive running skills, he enjoyed plenty of success on the ground in Week 1, running 15 times for 75 yards and two touchdowns.
Considering this small sample size, coach Pete Carroll isn't banking on the Patriots using that same plan of attack this time around and admitted he's being very cautious of coach Bill Belichick's chess match-type approach. As a result, the Seahawks are planning to enter this matchup with the mindset that they'll need to make adjustments throughout all four quarters.
“We do have a real good background with Cam [Newton], but we don’t know what they’re gonna do with him. It’s only one game, so we don’t even have the benefit of the preseason games to try and kinda figure it out,” Carroll discussed. “They have been notorious for changing from one week to the next and how they approach their opponents. So we have to go into this game with a real wide-open look - it’s almost like the first game.”
Since Belichick has a storied history of keeping his opponents off-balance, it would make a ton of sense for the Patriots to increase the usage of their passing game in Week 2, especially since the Seahawks allowed 450 passing yards from quarterback Matt Ryan last Sunday.
If New England doesn't change course and continues relying on their running game, Seattle will have plenty of footage to work with, as they carried the ball 42 different times against Miami. Citing his experience against Newton in particular, Carroll is hopeful his prior showdowns against the dual signal caller will help with his team's preparation and prevent them from being caught off guard.
“We have some information, of course, and they showed they really wanted to run the football quite a bit, ran it 42 times in the game, which is a great commitment," Carroll explained. “But I do like that we have seen Cam over the years, really big games and playoffs. We’ve seen him in the most challenging settings, so we do have familiarity in that regard.”
Over Newton's six career games against the Seahawks, the 31-year old owns a 1-5 record and has been picked off four times and sacked 11 times as well. With that said, the former Panther has still enjoyed plenty of success over the years, producing 1,144 passing yards, five touchdown passes, 209 rushing yards, and one rushing touchdown during those contests.
Based on these matchups against the 2015 MVP, the Seahawks know the Auburn standout's craft better than most teams in the league, as they've witnessed him being utilized in almost every way imaginable. Still, Carroll and his staff are expecting Belichick and the Patriots to become extremely creative with the playbook and are ready for any new wrinkle their coaching staff throws at them.
“We’ve seen Cam run every play that you could run all these years and so there’s a wide variety of things that he does and can do. But they did show a willingness to running downhill and running in a wildcat situation, which is a great way to use your running quarterback. They got a lot of stuff and I know that they couldn’t show it all in one game and so we have to be ready for a very wide spectrum of offensive style. It’s a difficult preparation in that regard, but at least we know what he looks like and we know what he is as a runner because of the years past.”