Offseason workouts came to a close last week with a three-day minicamp, which means the Seahawks are off for a while before training camp. The mailbag, however, remains open, so it's time to answer some questions from you the fans. As always, thanks to everyone who submitted a question this week, and apologies if I wasn't able to get to yours.
@TheCrappyTotals asks, "Russell Wilson is apparently a helicopter pilot now. Does the team have concerns about this?"
A: If you missed it, Wilson posted on Instagram last week a video of him flying a helicopter over Seattle with his finance Ciara.
First off, it's probably safe to assume the other person in that video in an instructor, so Wilson likely isn't alone at the controls, but to the question about whether or not the Seahawks would have an issue with it, the answer is no. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has discussed on quite a few occasions that he wants his players to enjoy life off the field, so long as they're not taking unnecessary risks. Carroll's optimistic nature doesn't allow him to focus on the possible negative outcome, which is why he is OK with Jimmy Graham flying airplanes, and with former left tackle Russell Okung running with the bulls in Pamplona, and why he likely has no problem with Wilson flying a helicopter.
"I don't think something bad is going to happen, I don't think things are going to go wrong," Carroll said last month on Dr. Michael Gervais’ “Finding Mastery” podcast. "I'm on the other end of the spectrum from the guys who are being highly protective… I think you're going to gain from it, you're going to be bigger and smarter and broader and wiser because of the things you indulge in."
That optimistic outlook doesn't just apply to how Carroll wants his players to live life off the field. It's also key to his success as a coach.
"The old phrase about creating your own reality, that's important to me," he said. "I believe in that and I'm going to go down thinking that. When we came to Seattle, I didn't think we would falter, I thought we would create a monstrous program. I thought that would happen. We were going to do it exactly the same way and show we could do it in the NFL, and it has just happened before our eyes. I think we've created a great program here, and we're on our way. Some day we might look back and say, 'This was a heck of a run.' But I think if we'd have thought anything else—there were people that told me when I went to USC, 'Oh, it's not like it used to be. There's the Oregons and the Washingtons and they've taken over the Pac-10, and it'll never be the same. There was the heyday.' Let's wait and see, I don't want to think that way. I just believe in this power so much, and of course you have to be optimistic."
@kyun_nahi asks, "Isn't it supposed to be summer in Seattle? Why is it still raining?"
A: Having grown up in the Seattle area, I can assure you that rain in June is a very normal phenomenon. There's a reason most people from this area will tell you that summer in Seattle really starts on July 5 (you know, right after that rainy Fourth of July party). So just hang in there a couple more weeks, then it will be beautiful weather for the next few months.
@RAYKation asks, "Who gets the final receiver roster spot?"
A: Assuming the Seahawks keep five or six receivers on the 53-man roster, the battle for the final two or three spots will be a really fun one to watch. You can safely assume Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Tyler Lockett will all be on the team and have significant roles, and a healthy Paul Richardson would be tough to leave off the roster as well. But when it comes down to players like Kasen Williams, Kevin Smith, Kenny Lawler and Douglas McNeil III, it's hard right now to say who would have the edge, as all have enjoyed very strong performances in offseason workouts. And as always, when it comes to those final roster spots, the ability to contribute on special teams is a big factor in addition to their play at receiver.
"That second level of guys that are fighting for this roster spot, there's a bunch of guys that look good and could do some good stuff," Carroll said.
@zeke_zgembala asks, "What's your summertime jam?"
A: I'm embarrassingly out of touch with current music, so while I could use google and try to make something up to sound hip, I'll just go with Pearl Jam, because that's pretty much my default when it comes to music choices. In fact, I'm currently looking at this picture on my desk:
@jbabington13 asks, "What's Stanley Jean-Baptiste's ceiling? If he doesn't make the 53-man roster, would another team snatch him?"
A: Jean-Baptiste, a former second-round-pick out of Nebraska, is an intriguing prospect for the Seahawks, but it's far too early to know how or if he fits in on this roster. At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, he certainly fits the mold from a physical standpoint, and having finished last season on the Seahawks' practice squad, he has at least a little bit of familiarity with the system. That being said, the Seahawks are very deep and talented at cornerback this year, so cracking the roster is a tough task for any unproven cornerback.
As for the second part of that question, whether Jean-Baptiste would get claimed by another team if the Seahawks were to waive him would likely have a lot to do with how he performs in the preseason. At least one Seahawks receiver who has gone against Jean-Baptiste in practice has liked what he has seen so far.
"He's getting better, he's improving," Doug Baldwin said. "One of great things about him, one of the biggest challenges about him is that he's so long and so strong, so he brings a different element, kind of what Brandon Browner brought to us when he was first here, just that physicality. So he can be that guy for us on the back end. I'm really excited about his progress. He's going to be really good for us, to say the least."
@TablerDotCom asks, "How has Trevone Boykin adjusted to the offense? Is he a contender for the second-string spot?"
A: Like you'd probably expect from a rookie quarterback, Boykin has impressed at times, then had his struggles other times, but overall the undrafted free agent out of TCU has made a good impression on Seahawks coaches.
"The first thing I notice that jumps out is how he's picked up the playbook," offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said last week. "I've been really impressed with that. I think he's done a nice job of studying and applying himself, and I think that's the first thing that jumps out. Obviously, watching him out here, he's got really good arm strength, he's got good arm talent. Like I said, he's just done a nice job picking it up. I think that's the first thing that I liked about him."
As for whether or not Boykin can win the backup job, the answer to that is going to have to wait a while until he is able to show what he can do in camp and in preseason games. As the roster stands now, with only Boykin and Jake Heaps behind Russell Wilson, Boykin has a great shot at winning the job, but there's also always the possibility of the Seahawks bringing another veteran in to camp to add to the competition.
@StewartExpress asks, "Who is the funniest Seahawk?"
A: The obvious answer is Michael Bennett. That's probably also the correct answer. I mean, this is just a small sampling of some of his best quotes, and that's just the ones that were appropriate for this website. That being said, Bennett is far from the only funny man in Seattle's locker room. Jon Ryan has quite the sense of humor, as does tight end Luke Willson (Canadian thing, perhaps?). Richard Sherman is another player on defense who has plenty to say, some of it humorous, and in addition to the more outspoken funny men like Bennett and Sherman, there are a few players with underrated, subtle senses of humor on defense like Bobby Wagner, Earl Thomas and Cliff Avril, to name a few.
@TruthisTold2U asks, "What are the chances the defense can get their sack numbers up as well as get back to the top in takeaways?"
A: Like any team, the Seahawks would love to get more pressure on quarterbacks, but the Seahawks have managed to be excellent on defense in recent years without being one of the league's best teams in terms of sacks. Dating back to 2012—the first of Seattle's four straight seasons leading the NFL in points allowed—the Seahawks have had 36, 44, 37 and 37 sacks, which ranked T-18th, 8th, 20th and 17th. Again, that doesn't mean the Seahawks don't hope the addition of Chris Clemons and the growth of Frank Clark won't bring that number up, but to think they need to drastically improve on last year's sack total to play good defense would be wrong.
As for takeaways, that is a stat that Carroll would gladly tell you he wants to see his team improve. The Seahawks were tied for fifth in the NFL in takeaways in 2012 with 31, first in 2013 with 39, then tied for 20th in 2014 with 24 and tied for 16th last year with 23. Opposing teams taking fewer chances in the passing game is definitely a factor in that number going down, but the Seahawks still feel like they should be able to get the ball away more often. As Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times noted in a story this week, the desire to get the ball away from their opponents more often is likely a reason why Carroll said pursuit has been an area of focus this offseason. There is definitely an element of luck involved when it comes to recovering fumbles, but getting more players to the ball in pursuit is a good way to force more fumbles, thereby giving the defense more opportunities to recover the ball. And it's also worth noting that the Seahawks have been top-5 in turnover margin the past four seasons even when their takeaway numbers have been middle-of-the-pack, the result of the offense taking good care of the ball. When Carroll says "it's all about the ball" he isn't just talking about forcing turnovers defense, but also avoiding them on offense.
@nathandambrosi1 asks, "Name an awkward moment with Blitz?"
A: Well, this was awkward for the other guy, does that count?