With offseason workouts underway, and with the internet engaging in strange debates about Laurel and Yanny, now seems like as good of a time as any to open up the mailbag and answer questions from you, the fans. As always, thanks to everyone who asked a question this week, and apologies if I couldn't get to yours this time around.
@bucwylde33 asks, "How much is the offensive style going to change under Brian Schottenheimer?"
A: If anything it seems the change will be the Seahawks trying to get back to what they did offensively from 2012 to 2015 when they had one of the league's most efficient offenses, and not coincidentally, one of the league's best running games. In no small part due to injuries, the Seahawks have struggled to run the ball the past two seasons, and Carroll has stated numerous times this offseason that getting the running game going is one of his top priorities. So it's safe to assume Carroll wouldn't have made Schottenheimer his new offensive coordinator if they didn't see eye-to-eye on that goal.
"We're all on board in terms of what we're trying to get done and (Schottenheimer) has a great background, he's done a lot of things and he has the ability to structure stuff that's going to fit our style of guys," Carroll said during the draft.
Schottenheimer is also expected to play a big role in the continued development of Russell Wilson.
"He's got a really good connection with the quarterback, really good communication, relationship with the QB," Carroll said at the NFL scouting combine. "He works directly with the quarterback more so than some other coordinators do. He's got good quarterback background, so I really like all of that for challenging Russell, giving him new looks, new outlooks, new perspective possibly, just to continue to grow. He's very well-versed. I've been through a lot of systems too, the classic systems, west-coast system, the digit system, the things that are out there in the league, he's been through all of that too. So we can communicate on a really deep level about how we can put our stuff together and find our ways just to try to get better."
@_BVM asks, "Why does Pete Carroll want to run the ball so much even though runs average about 4 yards and passes average about 7?"
A: This is a good follow-up to the previous point about the Seahawks wanting to get back to running the ball. Yes, as the question notes, teams in the NFL—and pretty much at all levels of football—average more yards per pass attempt than per rush attempt, but that doesn't mean a team that throws every down will move the ball more successfully than one that is balanced. The way Carroll, and a lot of other coaches for that matter, sees things is that if a team is going to be at its best throwing the ball, the running game has to be a part of that equation. Without a strong running game, teams can drop fewer players into coverage to defend the pass, or they can rush the passer more aggressively. The running game also sets up the play-action pass, something that has been a big part of Russell Wilson's game in the past. Add to that the physical toll stopping the run can take on a defense over the course of the game; or the way running the ball can help a team control the clock while also reducing chances at turning the ball over, especially late in the game when playing with the lead; or the fact that elements can sometimes make throwing the ball more difficult, and it's easy to understand why Carroll calls balance on offense “enormously important for the formula for us winning.”
"We don't go out just to establish the run," Carroll said in 2015. "We've never said that in all of the years. I don't mind telling our opponent, we don't do that. We go out and try to win the game. If we play well, then you have your chances in the second half, and particularly in the fourth quarter to run the football and win the game in that manner. We love doing that. That's all part of it, if we're capable of that. We've been ahead quite a bit here, so we get those extra opportunities in the fourth quarter. That's why the runs continue to be ahead of it. It can be misleading, if you think, 'They're a run-first team and that's all they do.' I don't think that's what we're presenting to our opponents at all.
"We have great commitment to the run game. For all of the football gods that have ever spoken of this game and how you're supposed to play the game, it goes back to the history of it. This game is won on the ground, and won on both sides of the ball. You have to be able to do that if you want to be a long term, consistent, winning team. We've been committed that way for a long time. I'm glad the numbers show that, because that's what we're trying to demonstrate through our play."
@UnintendedMax asks, "Laurel or Yanny?"
A: Well this question was bound to be asked this week, wasn't it? For those who missed it, there's a heated debate on social media taking place about what people hear when they click on this video:
Turns out the answer is both, depending on frequencies, or something scientific like that. I initially heard only Yanny, then later, on a different device, could only hear Laurel. The New York Times built a tool that allows you to adjust the frequency to hear either.
Also, while we're at it, the dress is blue and black, not white and gold.
@brtemp asks, "Can you include some Chuck Knox videos in the mailbag?"
@lemiericle asks, "Where does Walter Jones rank all-time among tackles?"
A: A nine-time Pro-Bowler and six-time All-Pro, Jones is right up there among the best, which is why he is in the Hall of Fame. As for where specifically he ranks, Jones' name shows up on just about any list of top tackles that you can find, including a No. 4 ranking on a list compiled by Gil Brandt, a longtime NFL personnel man who now works for NFL Media. There are a lot of ways to illustrate Jones' dominance, including the overall success of Seattle's offenses in the 2000s, including the 2005 season when running back Shaun Alexander was the league's MVP, but what might stand out most are two numbers that show what almost never happened against Jones—in 12 seasons, he allowed just 23 sacks, fewer than two per season, and was called for holding only nine times.
@wheatgrower asks, "How do you feel about the Oxford comma?"
A: Since the gif on this week's call for questions included a punctuation reference from the hilarious Hannibal Buress, I suppose a question like this was inevitable. I know some people have a really strong opinion on this topic, but really, I don't care either way. If you like that extra comma before the "and" in a list, go for it, and if you don't, that's cool too. Just remember that sometimes, that comma really matters.
@fredcgomes17 asks, "Any chance of Germain Ifedi playing right guard again?"
A: Any chance? Sure, I suppose we can't rule anything out entirely, especially not with a new offensive line coach and a new offensive coordinator for 2018. But as of now, all signs point to Ifedi sticking to right tackle, the position he played last season, and not moving back to guard, his position as a rookie. On a few occasions, Carroll has talked about Ifedi as a right tackle, which doesn't assure him the starting job, but does mean that's what the team sees him at as things currently stand.
@walkngirl asks, "What are the Seahawks' long-term plan for defensive ends other than Frank Clark?"
A: With Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett both gone, there are understandably a lot of questions about defensive end, both short-term and long-term. Clark is the top returning player at that spot and has 19 sacks over the past two seasons, so he is the most accomplished returning player there, but the Seahawks also like what they saw out of Dion Jordan late last season, so if he can build off of that success and stay healthy, he could be a big part of the future as well.
The Seahawks also drafted two players who could factor into the equation both this season and down the road: third-round pick Rasheem Green and sixth-rounder Jacob Martin, and return several other players from last season's roster. The Seahawks have talent at defensive end that they really like, but with two veteran starters moving on, some of those young players are going to have to be ready to step into bigger roles.
Photos from Phase 2 of the Seahawks' 2018 offseason workout program on May 15, 2018 at Virginia Mason Athletic Center.