I'm back after a week of vacation, which means it's time to answer questions from you the fans. As always, thanks to everyone who submitted questions this week, and apologies if I was unable to get to your question.
@BalotelliSeb asks, "Which Seahawks do you think have the potential to become future Hall of Famers?"
A: This is a fun question, and a really tough one to answer. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is tough to make—so far Steve Largent, Cortez Kennedy and Walter Jones are the only players who spent most of their careers with Seattle to be enshrined in Canton—so to think a bunch of players on the current roster will get in is probably a bit optimistic. That being said, however, there are a few players with legitimate Hall of Fame hopes if they continue playing at a high level. For starters, it helps to be on a successful team, and the recent Seahawks teams have won a lot of games, and most significantly, a Lombardi Trophy, so if ever there were an era of Seahawks football to produce multiple Hall of Famers, it would be this one.
Marshawn Lynch's candidacy has been debated plenty since he announced his plans to retire in February, so we'll skip that and focus on current players. To me, there are three players, if they keep playing at their current levels and piling up honors and stats and their current rate, who have a pretty solid shot: Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman. Wilson has already accomplished a ton, and right or wrong, quarterbacks get a lot of credit for team success and blame for losses. So if the Seahawks keep winning, and if Wilson, who plays a position that lends itself to a long career, keeps making Pro Bowls and putting up impressive numbers—he led the NFL in passer rating in 2015—then that could very well be enough to get him into the Hall of Fame eventually. Thomas and Sherman, meanwhile, have established themselves as two of the very best in the NFL at their position over a number of years, have earned multiple All-Pro and Pro-Bowl honors, and will also have on their resumes the fact that they were two of the most important players on a historically great defense.
Beyond those three, a case could be made, depending on what happens in the future, for players like Kam Chancellor and Bobby Wagner, who both have multiple individual honors to their credit and who, like Thomas and Sherman, have been big parts of a great defense. A few young players have shown potential for greatness, but we won't go down that road with first and second-year players just yet. One more to consider depending on how the rest of his career plays out is Jimmy Graham, who put up huge numbers in five seasons with New Orleans before coming to Seattle in a trade last season. As of now, Graham's best years have all come in a Saints uniform, but at 29, there is still plenty of time left for Graham to make his mark as a Seahawk.
@AGarrell90 asks, "At age 34, what kind of role do you think the Hawks intend for Chris Clemons to play?" and @Soccer15_Matt2K asks, "With Chris Clemons back in Seattle and all the talk about another title, what do you think his contributions will be?"
A: Clemons, who played in Seattle from 2010-2013, recently re-signed with the Seahawks after two years in Jacksonville, and he likely will play a different role in his second stint in Seattle. Clemons was the starting "Leo" defensive end for four seasons before being released after the 2013 season, but now Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril have pretty firm grips on their starting roles. That doesn't mean Clemons can't contribute, however. On an interview with 710 ESPN Seattle this week, Clemons specifically mentioned spelling Avril when he needs a break, and with Bruce Irvin leaving in free agency, that opens up snaps for someone, whether it's Clemons, Frank Clark, Cassius Marsh or someone else, to get on the field. Ultimately, how much Clemons plays could come down to the development of Clark, Marsh, or perhaps a draft pick not yet on the roster. However things shake out, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has said in the past that a team can't have too many pass rushers, so there is definitely room for Clemons to make his mark in 2016 even if he is no longer a starter.
@hummelmax asks, "What's your favorite location in Seattle to enjoy a panoramic view of the city? And Kerry Park is too easy an answer."
A: You're right that Kerry Park on Queen Anne is an obvious choice, and while that's quite a view, it's not my favorite if only because there always seems to be a ton of people there to enjoy said view. Another obvious but solid choice is Gasworks Park, but I'll go with two of my West Seattle favorites, Belvedere Park on Admiral Way, and Hamilton Viewpoint Park on California Way. Both offer great views of Seattle from across Elliott Bay.
@TruthisTold2U asks, "What should we expect from the second year of Tyler Lockett and Frank Clark?"
A: Considering Tyler Lockett earned Pro-Bowl and All-Pro honors as a returner and was a big part of the offense as a receiver, more of the same wouldn't be bad for the Seahawks, but based on how Lockett finished the season, there's no reason to think he can't be even better, especially as a receiver, in 2016.
As for Clark, he has been a player discussed by Carroll and general manager John Schneider quite a bit this offseason—just this week, Schneider raved about his potential on a radio interview. Last year's second-round pick, Clark looked dominant in the preseason, but didn't have as big of an impact in the regular season, though he showed flashes late in the season. As mentioned in the answer about Clemons, Irvin's departure opens up playing time for a pass rusher, and Clark has a very good shot at taking up at least some of that playing time while also being a player who can back up Avril and Bennett.
@dstobbe11 asks, "Is Kristjan Sokoli going to be playing guard or center next season?"
A: Sokoli, a defensive-line convert who was drafted in the sixth round last year, remains a bit of a mystery because he didn't play last season—and that was largely by design, offensive line coach Tom Cable said, because the position switch. Cable and the Seahawks are high on Sokoli's potential and athletic ability, but it's still too soon to say what that means for his future in terms of where he plays. In general, the Seahawks want their linemen to have flexibility, especially if they aren't starters, so Sokoli will probably play both for a while until they can determine where he fits best.
@Gink_1228 asks, "What was your waist size before and after the vacation?"
A: I didn't measure, but my pants and belts still fit, so that's encouraging. And if you don't know what this question is about, I tweeted a few times about the amount of food—tacos in particular—I was consuming while on vacation in Austin. Between the breakfast tacos, regular tacos, Tex-Mex, barbecue, and local craft beer, I definitely consumed a few more calories than I needed (seriously, there's a lot of good food in Austin), but luckily we also walked a lot, so that hopefully balanced things out at least a little.
And speaking of food questions…
@RichardBoas asks, "I love mushroom burgers and really can't taste the beef. Should I skip the beef to save on calories and go with a mushroom veggie burger?"
A: See, I can't answer this question fairly, because I really don't like mushrooms. So for me, a mushroom burger doesn't sound great, and one without beef is just a non-starter. But hey, if you like mushrooms and are looking to make your diet a little healthier, then I say go for it.
@sarah_seattle12 asks, "Do you think the Seahawks have the most unique philosophy/approach in the NFL?"
A: What Carroll and Schneider have built in Seattle is definitely unique and successful, but as for just how unique it is, that's hard to say because this is the only NFL team I've covered, and six of the seven seasons I covered were Carroll/Schneider teams. That being said, however, I can tell you that players who have been on other teams have mentioned how different things are here, noting in particular the way Carroll embraces individualism, something that isn't the case in every NFL locker room.
As Carroll described that approach last season, "This is about helping people be the best they can be. It doesn't have anything to do with sports to me. It doesn't have anything to do with sports. It has to do with parenting, it has to do with mentoring, it has to do with coaching and leading, if you want it to.
"We're trying to help them be the best they can be. Simply that's what guides everything that we do. So whatever it takes to get that done is what we're charged to find. In that, I think a person has a chance to be much closer to their potential if they get true to who they are, rather than something you might want them to be or try to govern them to be. It's simply that. If I'm going to find somebody's best, I need to get them as close to what their true potential is, and connected to who they are, and call on that to be consistent. It's really hard to be something that you're not, but that's asked of people a lot. That's not what we're doing. We're trying to realize that these guys have really special, unique qualities about themselves and then try to figure out how to fit it together. And sometimes it doesn't fit. Sometimes it's not right, and we have to govern and adjust."
In terms of Carroll's "always compete" philosophy, the idea of competition isn't unique by itself, but what makes it different is Carroll's commitment to it. Carroll doesn't just talk about competition, he build an entire program with competition as its central tenet.