The Seahawks are coming off of their best win of the season and are headed to Jacksonville this weekend for another tough test, but before we turn our attention to Seattle's Week 14 game, it's time once again to answer questions from you, the fans. As always, thanks to everyone who took the time to ask a question this week, and apologies if I couldn't get to yours this time around.
@ConradKrueger16 asks, "Is Russell Wilson considered the MVP frontrunner after upsetting Carson Wentz and the Eagles on SNF?" On a related note, @bushybadger asks if Wilson sees the world in code like Neo in the Matrix.
A: If Russell Wilson wasn't a legitimate MVP contender before last week, throwing three touchdowns in a primetime win over the Eagles definitely put him in the conversation. Pretty much anywhere you look this week, Wilson is listed along with Tom Brady and Carson Wentz as one of the favorites, and considering both the importance of the position he plays and how much Wilson has had to do this year with the running game struggling, it's hard to argue any player is more valuable to his team than Wilson.
Most notably this season, Wilson has an NFL-best 134.1 passer rating in the fourth quarter, and has thrown 15 fourth-quarter touchdowns with just one interception. That fourth-quarter touchdown total matches Eli Manning (2011) for the most in a single season in NFL history. Another thing Wilson has going for him is that he and the Seahawks have gotten better late in the season throughout his career, meaning if history repeats itself, his MVP résumé should only look stronger in a month, especially if the Seahawks can finish strong and be one of the top teams in the NFC.
But no, I don't believe Wilson sees the world in code, but I'll double-check next time I see him.
Also, I know this question was about Wilson, but it's also worth pointing out that the Seahawks have a very serious award contender on the other side of the ball, with Bobby Wagner deservedly making noise in the Defensive Player of the Year race.
@dangusin asks, "What is the likelihood that we see Chris Carson and DeShawn Shead active for a potential playoff run?" @Teresa4ever12 and @LEGIONofBOOM also ask about Carson's status.
A:Seahawks coach Pete Carroll talked about both of those players Monday, and while there's not a definitive timeline on either DeShawn Shead or Chris Carson, both have a very real chance to play again this season.
Carroll said Shead is "really close" to returning, and as of Monday, had a chance to practice this week. That doesn't mean Shead would play immediately, but returning to practice would be the first step to getting back to game action. For example Dion Jordan returned to practice following Seattle's Week 7 game, but didn't play in his first game until Week 10.
Carson won't practice this week, but is making good progress, Carroll said: "He has healed really well. He's healing, he's out there changing direction and hitting it pretty hard right now. This is a big week for him to prove that he maybe has a chance in the next couple of weeks. We're not trying to push him too soon, but he's a really well-conditioned guy and he works really hard at it; this is his natural way. So that has carried over to be a great asset in his rehab. He has maxed out the process and he's beating the timeframes, so he looks good."
@RAYKation asks, "Is this the year John Schneider wins executive of the year? Stellar draft, trades and signings."
A: Is John Schneider deserving of executive of the year honors? Absolutely. Will he win it? That might be a longshot. Right or wrong, coach of the year or executive of the year honors usually tend to go to coaches/executives who help turn around a losing team. In retrospect, Schneider definitely should have won it at some point, probably in 2012 when he drafted Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner, amongst others. Though while Schneider has never won the PFWA Executive of the Year Award, he did earn Sports Illustrated's Executive of the Year honors in 2012.
Looking back, it's pretty funny to think that despite all of their success since arriving in 2010—two trips to the Super Bowl, one Lombardi Trophy, four NFC West titles and five straight seasons in which the Seahawks have won 10 or more games and advanced to at least the divisional round of the playoffs—neither Carroll nor Schneider has earned the top honor for their respective roles. And as long as the Seahawks keep winning, neither will be an obvious choice in the future because there's no impressive year-to-year improvement to make their cases.
But while the award very well may go to a general manager whose team made a big turnaround this season, a case can definitely made for Schneider. Even with the team's top draft pick, Malik McDowell, unavailable this year, the Seahawks have gotten big contributions from draft picks like starting cornerback Shaquill Griffin, defensive tackle Nazair Jones, offensive lineman Ethan Pocic, who has started at two different spots, and Chris Carson, who was the team's starting running back before going on injured reserve. Schneider made a pair of big trades to add Sheldon Richardson and Duane Brown, and has also made a lot of more under-the-radar moves that have added key players like nickel corner Justin Coleman (preseason trade), safety Bradley McDougald (free agent), linebackers Michael Wilhoite and Terence Garvin (free agents), and recent free-agent signing Byron Maxwell, who is now starting at left cornerback.
@dpbeck asks, "Have the Seahawks ever had a season with no 10 a.m. PT games before this year?"
A:Oh, Devon my friend, you have no idea the rabbit hole I have been down trying to figure this out. First, the answer to your question is either, no, it has never happened, or yes, it happened once, in 1981.
So why the discrepancy? Well when it was announced last week that Seattle's Week 14 game in Jacksonville had been moved from 10 a.m. PT to 1:25 p.m., meaning no early kickoffs this season, my first thought was, "I wonder if that has ever happened before?"
Going season by season through Pro-Football-Reference.com, a very useful and reliable site, I discovered that in fact the Seahawks had never gone a season without a 10 a.m. game, coming close in 1981 when they opened the season in Cincinnati with their one and only early game that year. Later, someone on twitter corrected me, saying the Seahawks did not have a 10 a.m. game in 1981. That prompted me to look for more information on that Cincy game, and according to the official gamebook, the game kicked off a 3 p.m. in Cincinnati, so noon PT. So the gamebook must be correct and Pro-Football-Reference got it wrong, right? Well, not so fast. Looking at the September 6, 1981 archives of both the Seattle Times and the Cincinnati Enquirer (I'm not proud of how much time I wasted on this last week), the game was listed as kicking off at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET. Did both papers have it wrong? Did the person filling out the game book (some info, including the kickoff time, was hand-written back then) just make a two-hour mistake? Did some weather phenomenon delay the kickoff by two hours? (No stories about that game mentioned a delay). NFL Communications couldn't provide a definite answer on this when I emailed them, while the 1981 Seahawks media guide had 10 a.m.
I also reached out to Clare Farnsworth, my predecessor in this job who knows about as much Seahawks history as anyone having covered them for nearly their entire history for various media outlets and, wouldn't you know it, his first year traveling on the beat was, of course, 1982. At that point, I gave up, defeated.
So if you were at that 1981 opener or happen to remember with any certainty when it kicked off, please holler.
@12inmiami asks, "Will Seattle ever solidly invest in their O-line in terms of draft prospects?"
A:Will they? They pretty clearly have. Now you can debate the results of all of those individual draft decisions, but in fact the Seahawks have used a lot of draft capital on offensive linemen. In fact, the 17 offensive linemen the Seahawks have drafted under Schneider and Carroll is an NFL high since 2010, and that list includes three first-round picks and two second-rounders. And if we're talking investing draft capital in the line, you can add to that the multiple picks, including a second-rounder, sent to Houston for Duane Brown, himself a former first-round pick.
Currently Seattle's offensive line consists of three first-round picks, Brown, free-agent signing Luke Joeckel and last year's first-round pick, Germain Ifedi, as well two second-round picks, Justin Britt and Ethan Pocic. So unless you want the Seahawks to turn into a bad team so their first- and second-round picks are higher in the draft order, I'm not sure what else they should do in terms of investing in the line from a draft perspective.
@MetroYoYo asks, "Do you see the Seahawks winning out?"
A:I'm not sure I'm ready to predict a six-game winning streak to end the season, but I certainly wouldn't rule it out based on what we saw in Sunday's win over the Eagles. As mentioned above, Wilson is playing like an MVP, the defense is still dominant even without a few key players, and if the Seahawks can build off of the improvements they showed in the running game against the league's No. 1 run defense, their offense has a chance to really take off down the stretch.
Add to that Seattle's history of success—the Seahawks are now 20-5 in December and January regular-season games since 2012—and there's a reason players felt confident in the locker room Sunday evening.
"It's just our mentality," safety Earl Thomas said after Sunday's victory. "The closer you get, the harder you run. We understand what's at stake, we understand what time it is, and the preparation always takes care of itself… You never look too far ahead. You enjoy this one, you definitely understand what you've done, who you just faced, and you just build on it. You take this momentum into the next game and the next game."
Team photographer Rod Mar shares exclusive behind-the-scenes images from the Seahawks' 24-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles during Week 13 on Sunday Night Football at CenturyLink Field.