The Seahawks’ special teams have been just that during the best start in franchise history.
Put everything coordinator Brian Schneider’s units have done during the team’s 9-1 start and the Seahawks’ special teams rank second in the NFL entering Sunday’s pre-bye week matchup with the Minnesota Vikings.
Just how good are they? Sunday’s game at CenturyLink Field will be the ultimate containment test, because the Vikings’ return game features rookie Cordarrelle Patterson, who leads the NFL with a 35.2-yard average on kickoff returns and has scoring returns of 109 and 105 yards; and Marcus Sherels, who leads the league with a 16.3-yard average returning punts, including an 86-yarder for a score.
“It’s just a great matchup and we’ll find out where stack up against the best guys in the league.”
Patterson and Sherels bring just what you’re looking for in a return tandem, which presents a dual problem even when your coverage units are as the good as the Seahawks.
“Patterson is a no-hesitation, foot-on-the-ground returner. He’s very strong. Has good vision,” Schneider said. “Sherels is very shifty. He’s very fast. And he’s very slippery. So he makes a lot of guys miss just by him being so slippery.
“They’re both really good. They’re leading the league for a reason.”
So, where to start in trying to stop these guys.
“It’s like everything else, you ramp up your preparation, you just keep relying on the things that you’ve done and just go out there and cover,” Schneider said.
“Sherels makes smart decisions,” Lane said. “When he doesn’t think he’s got it, he fair catches it. And when he has a lot of room, he takes off. But I love the challenge. I can’t wait for Sunday.”
Said Maxwell: “He’s a very elusive guy. So everybody has to stay at home, stay in their lanes and we’ve just got to play ball. Every week is a challenge, so he’s a challenge and we just have to handle him.”
“He’s a big, strong guy,” Maragos said the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Patterson. “He’s extremely confident with the ball in his hands. He trusts his blocks. When he hits the hole, he hits it. And he breaks a lot of tackles. He’s tough to takedown.
“So you’ve got to gang tackle. You can’t just have one guy coming down ready to tackle. You’ve got to have the team unit covering him, tackling him and we’ve really got to make sure that we’re really on point with our lane integrity and make sure we’re squeezing him down and restricting his lanes.”
Offered Farwell: “Patterson’s got a lot of speed. He’s very, very fast, and he can break tackles. He’s a very good returner. But they do a great job blocking for him. You see his returns and there are some big holes in there.”
That’s why the focus for the Seahawks’ special teams this week will be the whole of their impressive parts.