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Seattle offense a tough test

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Seattle offense a tough test N.O. defense to face prolific Seahawks By Brian Allee-Walsh Saints defensive coordinator Rick Venturi is usually anxious before a game, but he seems especially edgy this week. Coach Mike Holmgren's Seattle Seahawks are coming to ...

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Old 09-09-2004, 10:09 AM   #1
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Seattle offense a tough test

Seattle offense a tough test

N.O. defense to face prolific Seahawks

By Brian Allee-Walsh

Saints defensive coordinator Rick Venturi is usually anxious before a game, but he seems especially edgy this week.

Coach Mike Holmgren's Seattle Seahawks are coming to town, led by quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, running back Shaun Alexander and a trio of talented receivers.


The thought of facing the NFL's sixth-rated offense of 2003 has made for some restless days and nights for Venturi. But he said his secondary is up to the task.

"We start right off the bat with one of the real top offenses in the National Football League, so it's winner-take-all on Sunday," Venturi said. "We've known that all along. Obviously we've tried to accelerate our preseason development and be ready for this game.

"But our guys have never backed off to anybody, and they're not going to back off this Sunday. We've got a bunch of guys who will play hard and compete. We can always count on these guys giving a great effort. That's all you ask."

The Saints' secondary is expected to have its hands full Sunday with the Seahawks' West Coast offense built around Hasselbeck, Alexander and wide receivers Koren Robinson, Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram. Alex Bannister, 6 feet 5, is the Seahawks' fourth wideout.

Holmgren hopes to create mismatches by using three- and four-wide-receiver sets 75 to 85 percent of the time, forcing opponents to play nickel and dime coverages.

Then, when the defense is spread out and most vulnerable, Hasselbeck hands the ball to Alexander, who can attack the open spaces.

If the Saints' front seven does its job of pressuring Hasselbeck and containing Alexander, then cornerbacks Fred Thomas, Ashley Ambrose, Fakhir Brown and Monty Montgomery, and safeties Tebucky Jones, Jay Bellamy, Mel Mitchell and Deveron Harper have a better chance of carrying out their assignments. Cornerback Jason Craft (left ankle) is questionable.

"Seattle poses a great challenge for our defense, but they pose a problem for any defense they play," said Thomas, who signed with the Saints in 2000 after spending his first four seasons with the Seahawks. "Their receivers work really well together. They read the defense well, and Hasselbeck pulls them up to another dimension because he's a great quarterback."

Jackson and Robinson finished 14th and 15th in the NFC in receptions a year ago with 68 and 65. They combined for 2,033 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns.

Engram caught 52 passes for 637 yards and six touchdowns. And Alexander, who rushed for 1,435 yards and 14 touchdowns, caught 42 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns.

"I think it's good to start off against a team like Seattle because it'll let us see where we are at this point," Ambrose said. "It's good to play a team like this early, because they are one of the best offensive ballclubs in the league. Defensively, maybe we can catch them when they're not on all cylinders just yet. So maybe it can be an advantage for us."

It doesn't get any easier for Venturi after Sunday. In the coming weeks, the Saints will face six more top 10 offenses from a year ago in San Francisco (No. 5), St. Louis (No. 9), Tampa Bay (No. 10), Minnesota (No. 1), Kansas City (No. 2) and Denver (No. 7).

"Playing well against one of the top offenses in the league like Seattle can set the tone for our season," Thomas said. "We've got to come out early and establish ourselves and let those guys know we're here to play. If we can play our kind of football, everything else will take care of itself."

"We've got to go up and challenge these guys," Ambrose said. "It's going to be like this every week. We'll know more about us after this game. It's going to be a real good test."

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Old 09-09-2004, 10:57 AM   #2
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Seattle offense a tough test

\"But our guys have never backed off to anybody, and they\'re not going to back off this Sunday. We\'ve got a bunch of guys who will play hard and compete. We can always count on these guys giving a great effort. That\'s all you ask.\"
Nice sound bite Venturi, but uh... is that all you can ask and do they always play up? Really?
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