Seahawks Mailbag: A Big Sunday For Playoff Chances, Drop Kicks & More

Following a weekend off, the Seahawks got back to work Monday to begin preparation for their Week 12 game in Carolina, yet another game with playoff implications for both teams. But before we turn our attention to this week’s game, it’s time once again to answer questions from you, the fans. As always, thanks to everyone who asked questions this week, and my apologies if I couldn’t get to yours this time around.

@KBottom2 asks, “After a productive Sunday when the Seahawks didn’t even play, what are our chances of making the playoffs now?”

A: Kevin is right that, despite not playing on Sunday, the Seahawks had a good day. At 5-5, the Seahawks have to take care of business on their own end if they want to make the postseason for the seventh time in nine seasons under Pete Carroll and John Schneider, but they did indeed get some help on Sunday with some other NFC playoff contenders losing. With the Panthers, Seattle’s next opponent losing to fall to 6-4, and with the Bears beating the Vikings (5-4-1), who come to Seattle in December, the Seahawks now are in control of their Wild Card destiny. Dallas (5-5) beating the Falcons (4-6) also is a potential good thing since the Seahawks hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cowboys, but don’t play Atlanta. Again, the Seahawks have plenty of work to do on their own end, but there’s no denying that Sunday was good for them.

As for the Seahawks’ playoff chances, if you buy into such predictions, Fivethirtyeight.com currently gives the Seahawks a 45 percent shot at making the playoffs, Football Outsiders has a similar forecast, giving the Seahawks a 44.2 percent chance. To illustrate what a good week it was for the Seahawks, beginning with their win over the Packers, fivethirtyeight.com gave Seattle just a 29 percent chance of making the playoffs heading into Week 11.

@UnintendedMax asks, “When it’s third and really long, say third-and-15, why do we give up and just play for field position every time?”

A: I get the frustration when a team hands the ball off or throws a short pass on third-and-long, but for starters, the Seahawks don’t “give up” every time. Take, for example, second-and-12 and third-and-12 early in last week’s game when Russell Wilson took two shots into the end zone. Granted, the two throws went incomplete, but the Seahawks took a shot, two of them, in fact. Later in the game, Wilson tried to hit David Moore deep on second-and-21, and then yes, the Seahawks did hand the ball off on third-and-26, but the 10 yards Mike Davis gained help set up a 43-yard field goal in a game the Seahawks ended up winning by three points.

And from a big-picture standpoint, the Seahawks don’t view it as “giving up” when they play for field position on third-and-long. Yes, there are times when teams need to be aggressive, but the way Carroll and just about any coach views it, a game isn’t won or lost on one possession in the middle of a game. Sometimes that field position can be the difference between an opponent punting or getting a field goal on its next possession, or sometimes if an opponent has a good pass rush, checking down mitigates the risk of a taking game-changing sack in an obvious passing situation—think how big of a factor all of Seattle’s third-down sacks of Aaron Rodgers were last week. Again, I totally get why as a fan you might want to see your team throw it deep on every third-and-long, but next time that doesn’t happen, try to consider the long game and not just that specific play before rushing to judgement.

@lukeallenxvi asks, “Why wouldn’t Shaquem Griffin play against Carolina?”

A: We don’t know for sure what K.J. Wright’s status will be this week, or what Seattle’s plans will be if Wright isn’t able to go, but if you’re asking about Griffin not getting the call in other instances where Wright couldn’t go, coaches have praised the rookie’s growth since he started the season opener and was then replaced by Austin Calitro, but the Seahawks also like what they’ve been getting out of Calitro, as well as Barkevious Mingo.

“Austin did a nice job,” Carroll said. “He’s played enough football now and he’s the next guy to go in at that spot. He’s the most experienced guy and that’s really what gives him the advantage right now. He’s a good ballplayer and doing some nice stuff, but he’s the most experienced guy playing the spot so we feel like we can get the most consistent work out of him. Shaquem keeps—he’s banging, trying to get in there too but that’s the way we’ve decided to go.”

That being said, it’s worth remembering that Griffin is still a rookie, and that there’s plenty of time for him to make his mark on Seattle’s defense. Also, he has already been a big contributor on special teams, totaling five tackles, which is tied for third most on the team, and will continue to be going forward.

@ThinAirGFX asks, “Since Michael Dickson has a drop kick background, why haven’t the Seahawks utilized him for onside kicks?”

A: The Seahawks actually have tried this with Dickson, sending him out for the onside kick attempt late in their Week 2 loss to the Bears, but Dickson didn’t get the bounce on the ball and Chicago recovered. I’d imagine we’ll see Dickson used in this capacity again at some point, but in the case of the surprise onside kick the Seahawks tried against the Rams, the Seahawks likely used Sebastian Janikowski in that instance because sending Dickson out for a kickoff would alert an opponent that something unusual might be coming.

@gnarlyraddad asks, “Will we see J.D. McKissic used more as a running back or receiver given the success of Chris Carson, Mike Davis and Rashaad Penny?”

A: J.D. McKissic, who has been on injured reserve for the entire season thus far, will return to practice this week, Carroll said, but that doesn’t guarantee he’ll be added to the 53-man roster. The Seahawks have three weeks to let McKissic practice without having to add him to the roster—though he can be added at any time—but as this question points out, the Seahawks have a lot of depth at running back. McKissic’s versatility having also played receiver, as well as his talents on special teams, do give him value even if he’s not one of the top backs, but that depth at running back means the Seahawks don’t have to rush this decision, not when they’re still having a hard time getting touches for C.J. Prosise, another player they still like a lot, even though he hasn’t been able to contribute much this year.

“J.D. McKissic is going to come back to practice this week for the first time, so he’ll have a chance to see what he can do to make it more confusing and challenging, but that’s a good thing,” Carroll said. “… I don’t know what’s going to happen, J.D. complicates it more by being a really good player. J.D.’s one of the better special teams guys as well of that group. We’ll just wait it all out, figure it out and have to make some tough decisions. It really bothers me that C.J. (Prosise) is not part of this because C.J. is worthy of being a part of it. It’s just kind of the rotations and how it’s fitted together.”

From a couple of cubicles over, Seahawks director of broadcasting @brianoconnell12 asks, “Cranberry sauce with or without berries?”

A: Because I’m weird, I’ll go with: without berries, and from a can, served still in the shape of the can.

Game action photos from the Seahawks' 27-24 win against the Green Bay Packers in Week 11 of the 2018 NFL season.

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