The Seahawks' 2019 season unfortunately came to an end in Green Bay on Sunday. With that in mind, it's time to answer questions from you, the fans, about the season that was and about the offseason that lies ahead. First off, thanks to those of you who reached out via our mailbag form (Seahawks.com/SeahawksMailbag) just to express your appreciation for the team and the season it had. Not really much for me to respond to below with the questions other than to say that your comments were seen and appreciated. As always, thanks to everyone who asked a question this week, and apologies if I couldn't get to yours this time around.
And since things are slowing down this week and there's not much else going on, we're going to make this a two-part mailbag, with more coming on Thursday.
@JaredGalanti asks, "What would your ideal offseason look like for the Hawks?"
A: Get better.
OK, so that's a big oversimplification, but the goal to some degree is the same every offseason. Keep the good players who are becoming free agents if feasible, sign good players in free agency without overpaying, and draft well. Do all of that, or even some of that, and the Seahawks will be better in 2020 than they were in 2019.
If you're looking for specifics, Pete Carroll made no secret of the fact that the team wants to bring Jadeveon Clowney back, so I'd start there. Carroll also mentioned the pass rush as a whole when talking about the team's defensive struggles this year, and the Seahawks have several free agents on the defensive line, including Jarran Reed and Quinton Jefferson, so whether it's through free agency or the draft or both, I'd point to that as one area the Seahawks need to address, both by adding some players who can help and also retaining at least some of their free agents.
And speaking of Clowney…
@sunscreenpapi asks, "Does Jadeveon Clowney stay with the Seahawks?" And John Dumas from Alpine, California also asks, "Will the Seahawks keep Jadeveon Clowney?"
A: As mentioned above, Carroll and the Seahawks want Clowney back after seeing him in a Seahawks uniform for one season.
"He's a terrific football player and he had a big impact on us," Carroll said Monday. "We would love to have him back."
Wanting a player back doesn't necessarily guarantee that, however. Clowney is set to become a free agent when the new league year begins in March, and having never tested free agency, he likely would like to experience that rather than re-sign in the next two months when only the Seahawks can negotiate with him. That being said, his experiences in Seattle should help the Seahawks re-sign him if the price is right. Clowney said he wants to play for a contender, which the Seahawks are, and on multiple occasions he has raved about his experience in Seattle since arriving in a trade with Houston just before the start of the season.
"It's been a great experience," Cowney said. "I met a great group of guys. I just told them I appreciate everyone in this locker room, because I didn't know how it was going to go when I got to Seattle. You know, people look at you different when you're the No. 1 pick, they think you're high. I'm like, 'Naw, that ain't me.' I walked in laughing, giggling. They've been accepting me ever since."
Darin Sitko from Hauser Lake, Idaho asks, "Do you think there will be a serious effort made this offseason to improve the pass rush?" And @Bryson Passmore from Cabot, Arkansas asks, "How are the Seahawks going to improve their defense? Are they going to try to improve in the secondary or amp up the pass-rush?"
A: I'm sensing a theme here. But it's understandable why this question keeps coming up. The Seahawks had a few stretches of the season when all or most of their players were available and the pass rush was really good, but for other stretches the Seahawks failed to affect opposing quarterbacks as much as they'd have liked, which obviously affects the entire defense, whether because it calls for more linebacker blitzes, leaving more openings for intermediate passes, or because it's harder on the secondary to cover when the quarterback isn't feeling hurried.
"We didn't get enough production consistently," Carroll said. "At times, we were as good as anybody, but not with the consistency that we need. It's so much better to play football when you're rushing four guys and you're kicking butt. Everything works when you do that. We have to just keep developing. I think we need continuity. Not having J-Reed early in the year was a mess for us, missing him for six weeks. Then, he had to transition back in. There are just things that we can smooth out. We need to get some of these guys back, too."
So far the focus on this conversation has been on the pass rush, but that doesn't mean the Seahawks won't also look at all elements of their defense, from scheme to their secondary to just about everything else you can think of. Carroll has coached some great defenses in his career, both in Seattle and as an assistant and coordinator earlier in his career, so you know he isn't going to be satisfied with the results he saw in 2019.
"We were not consistent," he said. "Too many explosive plays of various natures. For the most part, we had problems on the edge. We had containment issues. We found that the offenses really put the ball on the perimeter against us a lot. That does challenge us in some ways. You'll see some things be adjusted in the course of the offseason for that. Just the style of offense that we were up against was a little bit different than it's been."
Asked what might be adjusted, Carroll said, "There'll be some of everything. A little bit of everything. We're going to work hard at it. Some of it will be going back to things we've done, some of the things will be moving forward. I'm really excited to go about it. It's difficult to adjust some things in the middle of the year."
Robert Alvarez Jr. from Coachella, California asks, "Is there a 50 percent chance Marshawn Lynch will return for the 2020 season with the Seahawks?"
A: I don't know what the odds are of Marshawn Lynch deciding he wants to play next year at the age of 34, let alone of how interested the Seahawks would be should he decide to try to come back for another season.
Carroll has said on a few occasions, including Monday, that he doesn't know what Lynch has in mind, but while I'd put the odds well under 50 percent of a 2020 reunion, I'd file this one under "never say never."
"He's going to go home and think about it," Carroll said. "We were all very fortunate to have a chance to see Marshawn come back and play again. To score four touchdowns in the last three weeks it was pretty cool. Just being Marshawn down inside the 5-yard line, he was nails. I don't know, I don't know what he's going to do. I don't think he knows yet."
And if these past three games were it for Lynch and the Seahawks, it was a memorable experience for his teammates and for fans, one that included some memorable and important parting words of advice.
Adam Timmons from Cleveland asks, "How does Russell Wilson feel about never missing a game in his career?"
A: Wilson takes a lot of pride in his durability, and has mentioned that on a few occasions throughout his career. It's easy to take for granted when he's on the field every day for practice and every game throughout his career, but Seahawks fans shouldn't lose sight of how good they have it having quarterback who isn't just one of the best of his generation, but who is always available.
For example, as the Cleveland Browns pointed out in an article on their team website at the end of the regular season, Baker Mayfield was the first quarterback to start all 16 games for the Browns in 18 years, something Wilson has done every season of his eight-year career. Wilson hasn't even missed a single regular-season practice, only twice missing workouts, mandatory or voluntary—he missed one voluntary OTA to attend with Jimmy Graham the funeral of a woman who was Graham's mentor, and one day of camp this past summer to attend his grandfather's funeral.
Go behind the scenes with team photographer Rod Mar as he shares moments from the Seattle Seahawks' Divisional game against the Green Bay Packers. Eye on the Hawks is presented by Western Washington Toyota Dealers.