Fresh off of their bye week, the Seahawks were back on the field for "bonus Monday" practice, the beginning of their preparation for what they know will be a very tough Week 6 opponent in the Atlanta Falcons.
The NFC South-leading Falcons, who are coached by former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, improved to 4-1 Sunday with a win in Denver over the Super Bowl champion Broncos, and they'll bring to Seattle an offense that ranks first in the NFL in yards, points, passing yards and passer rating, and second in passing touchdowns. The Seahawks, meanwhile, are in first place in the NFC West at 3-1 and currently rank first in total defense, second in passing defense, third in scoring defense, second in opponent passer rating, and have allowed just one passing touchdown.
"They're on fire," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "This is a high-flying team right now; they are on it. They had to endure some issues too—guys were getting banged up, and they overcame that. Fantastic win yesterday at Mile High and all that, against an undefeated team. They played great football and they were banged up too. So a lot of credit goes to those guys for holding it together and all, and playing against a really good team and pulling off a good win. Their offense is just out of this world right now, their quarterback is on fire, they're doing a great job. I know Dan is fired up about it, and we're excited to see him play well and it'll feel like a championship matchup, just like we like."
Leading the way for the Falcons offense is quarterback Matt Ryan, who currently leads the NFL is passing yards, yards per attempt and passer rating. His top target, Julio Jones, had a 300-yard receiving game two weeks ago, but he's far from Atlanta's only offensive threat, as was evident Sunday when running back Tevin Coleman had 132 receiving yards on four catches on a day when Jones was held to two catches for 29 yards.
"It's a great challenge," defensive end Michael Bennett said. "Matt Ryan is a great quarterback, Julio Jones is a great receiver. And I know how Dan Quinn's mind is, and he definitely has that team playing tough. They have a great running game; (Devonta Freeman) is just outstanding in every facet of the game, then you bring in Coleman, he's good too. Then the offensive line is pretty good. They've got so many great weapons and they're using them in a special way."
And if Atlanta's high-flying offense going against one of the league's top defenses wasn't an intriguing enough matchup on its own, Quinn facing his former team and former boss in Carroll makes Sunday's showdown even more interesting.
"It's exciting to see," Carroll said of Quinn's success in Atlanta. "He's having fun, he's working hard, he has a team with an attitude and a personality. They had a great start last year and they battled back and finished well at the end and they're off flying again. They seem to be really be utilizing their talent well and the people they picked up. They're doing a lot of really good things. It's really exciting to see, but I'm not going to get too caught up in the pride thing right now. We need to go play them."
The Seahawks returned to Virginia Mason Athletic Center following their bye week for a 'bonus' practice on Monday.