With the Seahawks back in action for more OTAs following a weekend off, it's time once again to open up the mailbag and answer questions from you, the fans. As always, thanks to everyone who asked questions this week, and apologies if I couldn't get to yours this time around.
@Dhanurkar asks about the Seahawks' defensive end depth and if they are "looking for someone in roster cuts from 90 to 53?"
A: On one hand, the Seahawks did lose both starting defensive ends this offseason—Michael Bennett in a trade and Cliff Avril because of an unfortunate neck injury—so it's certainly fair to wonder about that position group heading into 2018. On the other hand, the Seahawks are bringing back, among others, Frank Clark, who has 19 sacks over the past two seasons, and Dion Jordan, who had 4.0 sacks in just five games last season. Seattle also drafted Rasheem Green in the third-round, a versatile end who could fit into a number of roles, and Jacob Martin in the sixth round. Linebacker Barkevious Mingo, one of the team's top free-agent additions, will also factor into the pass-rush rotation. So the Seahawks have options at defensive end that they like, but yes, it will look different in 2018 to be sure, and there are some players who are going to need to prove they can step into bigger roles and be productive, or, in the case of Jordan, show he can handle a 16-game season.
@SeanFromSeabeck asks, "Over/under on Michael Dickson drop kicks for the season? I want at least two."
A: Before we get into this question, a reminder that Jon Ryan is still on the team, and he isn't going to give up the job he has held since 2008 without a fight, so there will be competition for Dickson, a player Seattle picked in the fifth round of this year's draft.
As for the drop kick question, for those who don't know, Seahawks rookie punter Michael Dickson grew up playing Australian Rules Football, a sport that calls for players to be able to execute a number of different types of kicks, often on the move, so Dickson comes to the NFL with a pretty unique skillset, including the ability to drop kick the ball far and with accuracy—rarely has a punter had more eyes on him at a rookie minicamp. Fans of the modern NFL might not even know the drop kick exists because it never happens anymore, but teams can score not just by having a place kicker kick the ball through the uprights, but also by having player drop kick it through. So if, for example, Dickson had the ability to drop kick the ball farther than the team's kicker can kick it off the ground, the Seahawks could attempt a long dropkick late in a game or at the end of a half. One way or another, it'd be fun to see it attempted a few times this season, if only for the novelty of it. The last team to attempt a drop kick was the Patriots on an attempted onside kick in 2015. The last team to score on a drop kick was also New England, which sent backup quarterback Doug Flutie out to drop kick an extra point in 2006. It's also a handy skill if the Seahawks were to ever have a game in which the kicker or holder became injured.
@Shaunblahblah asks, "You have a music-centric time machine, what one concert from the past would you use it on?"
A: Wow, this is a great and difficult question. As a huge Pearl Jam fan, one of my first thoughts was to go back to see their first show, when they were still known as Mookie Blaylock, at the Off Ramp Café. But even though that show is a huge part of my favorite band's history, I have seen them 20-some times in concert, so if I only have one chance to use this time machine, I think I'd do so to see a band I never had a chance to see live.
If this time machine will allow for a trip to a multi-day festival, I'd go with Woodstock or the Monterey Pop Festival, both of which featured some of my favorite bands (road trips with my parents influenced my music tastes growing up): Jimi Hendrix, The Who and Janis Joplin, to name a few.
If I have to pick a single artist, I'd go Hendrix first, perhaps his three-night gig at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom in 1968. A close second would be Led Zeppelin, maybe their three-night performance at Madison Square Garden in the summer of '73. Other before-my-time acts I'd love to have seen are Stevie Ray Vaughan, B.B. King (saw him in 1998, but would love to see him in his prime), The Who, The Doors and Joplin. Also, the 9-or-so-year-old me would be mad if I didn't say Michael Jackson. I wore out that Moonwalker VHS tape.
Or, instead of picking a band in its prime, it'd be cool to go see that band/artist when they were still an unknown, something like Hendrix playing a small club in London; or Bob Dylan, then Robert Zimmerman, performing at a Minnesota coffee house; or B-Rabbit tossing the mic at Papa Doc to punctuate his rap battle victory… oh wait, that last one didn't really happen, but you get the point.
@Seahawks_Rick asks, "Who wins the starting right corner position, assuming Griffin slides over to the left side?
A: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll downplayed Griffin playing at left cornerback in a recent session of OTAs, saying, "We're just working guys out. We're trying to figure out what everybody can do and we're moving people around in all spots, basically." But regardless of where Griffin lines up, it's probably safe to assume he'll be a starting cornerback on one side, with a pretty good competition taking place on the other side of the defense.
Byron Maxwell re-signing gives the Seahawks a starter with considerable experience, but they have some other options there to compete with Maxwell. Justin Coleman, last year's nickel corner for most of the season, would be the favorite to hold down that spot again, but he is an option on the outside as well. Dontae Johnson, a free-agent addition, was a starter in San Francisco last season. I also wouldn't count out Neiko Thorpe, a special teams standout the past two seasons. The Seahawks have had a number of players, and cornerbacks in particular, make their mark on special teams before eventually taking on starting roles, a group that includes Maxwell, DeShawn Shead, Jeremy Lane and even Richard Sherman for half of his rookie season. DeAndre Elliott is coming back from an injury that cost him all of last season, Mike Tyson is looking to make a leap in year two after moving from safety to cornerback as a rookie, a transition 2018 rookie Tre Flowers is trying to make this year. Any of those players could emerge as the competition heats up this summer, but given that Maxwell finished the season as a starter and then was re-signed, he would probably be considered the favorite for now, but he'll have to earn it in camp.
@GallagherWitt asks, "Where do the Seahawks stand on the NFL's recent policy on the national anthem?"
A: Pete Carroll, Doug Baldwin and Russell Wilson all spoke at length on this topic last week, and you can read more here.
@TheMikeMasters asks, "What will our running back committee look like?"
A: It's too early to know how the competition will play out at running back, but what has been apparent in offseason workouts is that, if healthy, this is a pretty deep and talented group. The Seahawks loved what they saw out of C.J. Prosise as a rookie when he was healthy, but he's had a hard time staying on the field the past two seasons. Chris Carson won the starting job as a rookie and showed a lot of potential, but he missed most of last season with a leg injury. Mike Davis showed flashes after taking over the job late in the season, and obviously the Seahawks like a lot about Rashaad Penny to have used a first-round pick on the San Diego State product. If that group, which also includes the versatile J.D McKissic, can stay relatively healthy heading into the season, Carroll and Schneider will have some tough decisions to make in terms of playing time and roster spots.
"I'm really excited about that," Carroll said last week. "It's just feels different just to have everybody healthy and out there working and all. We had really high hopes for C.J. (Prosise) and we've seen Mike Davis play really good for us and we got excited about J.D. McKissic, and now to see Chris (Carson) back — he's had a tremendous offseason — and to add Rashaad (Penny) there as well, it's just a really fine group. They're very versatile, there's really kind of no restrictions on what they can do in terms of catching the ball and getting out of the backfield and in the kicking game and all kinds of stuff. It's a really good group and it helps that they're all healthy, it keeps their reps down and hopefully we can keep marching forward in a positive way and just keep growing. It's the source of my excitement to see all those guys together because we've needed them. It's been two years of really not having the group all together, so it's pleasing."
@KBottom2 asks, "Thoughts on who might win the backup QB position, Austin Davis or Alex McGough?
A: This will be an interesting competition to watch throughout the preseason. Davis, last year's backup, has the advantage of experience, not just with the Seahawks, but also with new offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. The two worked together in St. Louis when Davis played for the Rams and Schottenheimer was the offensive coordinator there, including in 2014 when Davis started eight games. McGough, meanwhile, is a seventh-round pick who has a lot more to learn, but he showed a lot of good things in his first rookie minicamp with Seattle. And before you dismiss an impressive performance in rookie minicamp, remember that Russell Wilson helped earn his way into the competition for the starting job with a strong performance in his rookie minicamp. Of course it's always possible the Seahawks keep both Davis and McGough, along with Wilson, if they like both enough to justify using an extra roster spot on a quarterback. Or, as was the case last year, the Seahawks could try to keep two quarterbacks on the roster and get one onto the practice squad.
Phase 3 of the Seahawks' voluntary offseason workout program continues this week, with Seattle holding the fourth of 9 Organized Team Activities (OTAs) on Tuesday, May 29 at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center.