The bye week is over, the first-place Seahawks are back to work, preparing for the Atlanta Falcons, and a mustachioed man in a red sweater is suddenly really famous for reasons I don't entirely understand. With all of that in mind, it's time once again to answer questions from you, the fans. As always, thanks to everyone who asked questions this week, and apologies if I was unable to get to yours this time around.
@Noy3s asks, "What should we expect from Russell Wilson? Now that he has had a full week of recovery, where is he at physically?"
A: The good news for the Seahawks is that quarterback Russell Wilson played incredibly well in Seattle's Week 4 win at New York despite knee and ankle injuries. The better news is that, after a bye week, Wilson is doing even better from a physical standpoint, with head coach Pete Carroll noting that "he looked normal" after Monday's practice.
Presuming Wilson is healthier this week against Atlanta, that can only mean good things for an offense that has shown progress over the past two weeks even with Wilson limited in his mobility. As the second half of last season so clearly showed, Wilson has no problem thriving within the pocket, and he'll continue to do so going forward, injured or healthy, but when Wilson is mobile, that's just one more element to his game that can help the Seahawks be explosive on offense. If Wilson is able to run at least a little bit to present a credible threat in that facet of the offense, that will also help the running game get on track, as defenses will have to put that much more effort into containing Wilson as well as Seattle's backs.
@TablerDotCom asks, "Based on DeShawn Shead's stellar performance as a starter, do you think he can be considered a top 25 cornerback?"
A:I'm not going to pretend to know how well every cornerback around the league is playing to rank where DeShawn Shead ranks among the rest of the league, but what is evident a month into the season is that Shead has stepped into a bigger role this season and played very well in his first season as a full-time starter. Shead, who began his career on the practice squad in 2012 and who this year won the competition for the starting job at right cornerback, has played every defensive snap this season, has a team-high five pass breakups, and along with Richard Sherman and nickel corner Jeremy Lane, has been a big part of Seattle having one of the best pass defenses in the NFL. Unlike last season when the defense struggled a bit at times early in the year, this year's secondary has thrived in part thanks to the continuity that came with Shead keeping the starting job he had late last season and with Lane re-signing as a free agent.
"Those are great stories," Carroll said of Shead's practice-squad-to-starter journey earlier this season. "I love raising guys up in the program. Getting to know them really well and understanding, and if they stay with us, it's because they're the right kind of guys. So you know you have a feeling for the guy because he's made it through the draft picks and the other guys with maybe more acclaim coming in. Those kinds of guys are the guys we're always looking for. So as he got better and improved, you could just see it coming. I didn't know that he would be able to play front-line, first-team cornerback and go out there and play really well four or five years ago—he just proved it to us."
Professional funny person/Seahawks fan by way of marriage to a Canadian punter @sarahcolonna asks, "Is an El Camino a car or a truck?"
A: True story—my first thought on this was something along the lines of, this is as tough of a question to answer as, "Is a hot dog a sandwich?" Then moments later @kruehawk weighs in with the following, which was pretty great.
As to the original question, whether or not the El Camino, sometimes known as the mullet of automobiles, is a car or a truck, I'm going to say it is neither. The El Camino is in its own weird class that defies explanation, a one-off, if you will, much like someone who once described himself as, "a fair-skinned, freckle-faced redheaded kid from Canada with a speech impediment who punts a football."
@25Ruiziv asks, "What will be the impact of Germain Ifedi on the offensive line now that he's healthy and active?"
A: After missing the first three games of the season with an ankle injury, first-round pick Germain Ifedi made his NFL debut in Seattle's Week 4 win over the Jets. Ifedi had to work through some rust, Carroll said, but the Seahawks remain very excited about what the guard will bring to the offense, and he should only get better as he gains experience over the next few games. The Seahawks have been happy with their pass protection, cutting their sacks in half through four games from where they were in 2015, but the running game isn't quite where they want it to be just yet. In the preseason, the Seahawks ran the ball well in part because of the play of the interior line, so getting Ifedi back should help in that area.
"There's a lot of room for improvement there for Germain," Carroll said. "He's just one game old in the regular season and he's been off for quite a while, too. He was rusty and he was behind a little bit, he was just a little bit shoddy with some stuff, it just had to happen that way. He should improve a tremendous amount, and I think as he improves, he'll affect what's going on with Garry (Gilliam) and what's going on with (Justin) Britt. We should see improvement in a number of areas. We're really fired up about him, we think he's going to be a dominant player. He's got a growth cycle that he's got to go through to get caught up."
@CharlieWilson21 asks, "Who is most likely to take Mike Morgan's snaps at SAM Linebacker?" @okaken300 also asks who will fill in for Morgan.
A: With Morgan going on injured reserve following surgery to repair a sports hernia, the Seahawks are without their starting strongside linebacker, as well as a big special teams contributor. While the Seahawks have not yet named a replacement, two likely candidates are Kevin Pierre-Louis and Cassius Marsh, both of whom were in the competition for the starting job in camp.
Whoever wins the job, however, it's worth noting that because the Seahawks have played a lot of nickel defense in three of four games this season, cornerback Jeremy Lane has been on the field as a third corner a lot more often than Morgan was at strongside linebacker. So while Morgan's presence on defense and especially special teams will be missed, the Seahawks aren't having to replace an every-down player.
@wenfot asks, "Who is the most fun Seahawk to interview and why?"
A:This might sound like a cop-out answer, but it's too hard to pick just one favorite. I'm lucky to cover a team with a lot of interesting/intelligent/funny/passionate people who can be funny at times or serious and though-provoking when the moment calls for it.
@TimDYo and @saffcacher ask if and when the Seahawks might play a game in London.
A: This question came up quite a bit last year as well when the NFL played its annual international series games. For travel reasons, the NFL hasn't sent west coast teams to London very often—the Rams do go this year and next year, but those games were agreed upon before their relocation was finalized—so that would work against the Seahawks going there, but never say never. The league has also started to extend its international presence, with Houston and Oakland scheduled to play in Mexico City later this season, so there could be more chances for the Seahawks to play outside of the U.S. somewhere down the road, even if it isn't in the UK.
@Kbottom2 asks, "What do the Seahawks have to do to shut down the Falcons offense?"
A: The Falcons do indeed represent a very tough challenge, particularly on offense. Through five games, Atlanta has the most yards, points and passing yards in the NFL, Matt Ryan has the league's highest passer rating, and the Falcons have shown they can beat opposing defenses with numerous weapons, ranging from Julio Jones, who had a 300-yard receiving game two weeks ago, to running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman. Because of that variety, there's no easy solution when it comes to slowing Atlanta down, but the Seahawks do counter with a defense that ranks first in total defense, second in scoring defense and third in passing defense.
"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."
@TruthisTold2U asks, "Any Thomas Rawls update?"
A:Nothing new this week, other than that Rawls is progressing as expected, but the running back is still expected to be out a few weeks with a cracked bone in his fibula, according to Carroll.
@RAYKation asks, "Best nickname for a Seahawks player?"
A: Usually, it's kind of lame when people give themselves nicknames, but for some reason, it just works when that person is Michael Bennett, AKA, Black Santa, AKA, Moses (it's a beard thing).
I'm also a big fan of Tyler Lockett being called No-E, as in, there's no E at the end of his name, unlike that of former Seahawks receiver Ricardo Lockette. Tuba for Ahtyba Rubin is a good one as well, as is Big Amigo for Tony McDaniel, Bam Bam for Kam Chancellor and Hausch Money for Steven Hauschka, and of course, there's always DangeRuss Wilson.
The Seahawks enter the bye week with a 3-1 record after a 27-17 victory over the New York Jets. Team photographer Rod Mar shares exclusive moments from Seattle's east coast road trip and Week 4 win at MetLife Stadium.