The Seahawks suffered a tough loss on Sunday, dropping their hope opener against Tennessee despite leading by 15 points at halftime, and now they'll look to bounce back when they go on the road to face the Minnesota Vikings. And because Tuesday is the players' day off, it's time once again to dig into the mailbag and answer questions from you, the fans. As always, thanks to everyone who asked questions this week, and apologies if I couldn't get to yours this time around.
@HolliWinters asks, "Can the Seahawks bounce back after Sunday's tough loss?"
A: The Seahawks' history under Pete Carroll suggests that, yes, they can and very likely will bounce back with a strong performance on Sunday. A big part of Carroll's week-to-week approach is that the team needs to process every win or loss the same, then move onto what's next, and that seems to have helped the team from having any type of hangover off of tough losses over the years. Dating back to 2012, Russell Wilson's rookie season, the Seahawks are 34-9 coming off of a loss, the best record in the NFL, and have lost consecutive games only once in each of the past two seasons.
@SheWholsNotSeen asks, "Will Pete Carroll ever address the excessive penalties? Seems to be an issue almost every year?"
A: Pete Carroll addressed the penalties after Sunday’s loss, pointing to them as a main reason why the Seahawks lost, then he addressed them again at length on Monday, and I can assure you he'll be addressing that topic with the team quite a bit this week.
As Carroll noted, he wants his teams to play with a lot of fire and energy, but it's on him to make sure players are walking the line between spirited play and making bad decisions that hurt the team. On Sunday the Seahawks were the wrong side of that line, committing 10 penalties, five of them 15-yarders, but Carroll is confident they'll get that cleaned up.
As for the notion that penalties are always an issue, the Seahawks had 84 penalties called against them last year, which was tied for 20th most out of 32 teams. The year before their 109 penalties were tied for 15th most, and in 2018 their 111 were tied for 15th. That means over the past three years the Seahawks have been around average or below average when it comes to penalty numbers. And even if the Seahawks are among the league leaders in penalties, that isn't necessarily a huge deal. The 2013 Seahawks, who went on to win the Super Bowl, led the NFL with 128 penalties, and the next year the Seahawks again led the league with 130 while returning to the Super Bowl.
@jasonaug9 asks, "Why hasn't Bless Austin or Sidney Jones seen the field yet?"
A: Carroll discussed both of those players on Monday, saying "both of those guys look good, they look like they can help us." The question then become how, if, and when they'll get into games. The Seahawks generally don't rotate their cornerbacks, so unless there's an injury, Jones or Austin would have to beat out one of the starters, D.J. Reed and Tre Flowers, to get significant playing time. And as Carroll pointed out on Monday, it's hard in-season to get enough reps for everyone to have a competition play out, but it's also not unheard of for a player to win a job over the course of a season. Perhaps Carroll will have one or both of those players take a few series in upcoming games to see how they perform, or maybe they'll just have to earn it in practice when they do get their chance. Whether it's through competition or through injury, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see Austin or Jones on the field at corner at some point this season, it's just hard to say how soon that could happen. And another name to watch when he comes back from injured reserve will be rookie Tre Brown, who was playing well and getting some starter reps at left cornerback before his injury.
John from Auburn, WA asks, "What is DK Metcalf good for? Either bench him or trade him for somebody that's good for the team."
A: Congrats, John, on winning the prize for Biggest Early-Season Overreaction. So what is Metcalf good for? For starters, he's good for 1,303 receiving yards last year, the most in franchise history. He also possesses a freakish combination of size and speed—even by NFL standards—that not only makes him a threat every time Russell Wilson drops back to pass, but that also demands attention from opposing defenses, freeing up a lot of things in the offense for other players when the ball isn't going his way. Metcalf is also an incredibly hard worker and dedicated teammate, and while yes, the penalties early in the season have been an issue, it's worth remembering that three flags have come while he's trying to block for his teammates, and even the unsportsmanlike conduct flag he got in Week 1 was not the result of hyping up his own big moment, but rather while celebrating a teammate's touchdown. Oh, and let's not forget that Metcalf is still on his rookie contract, making him an incredible bargain at one of the game's more valuable positions.
@FearlessAlexRVP asks, "When the offense puts 30 points up, that's usually enough. What can the defense do about not allowing 33 points?"
A: For starters, I'll agree that usually 30 points should be enough to win, but I'm not as down on the defense as a lot of people might be this week. For starters, that Titans offense with Derrick Henry at running back and Julio Jones and A.J. Brown at receiver is one of the most talented the Seahawks will face all season, and with all due respect to the rest of the running backs they'll see this year, they won't see another back quite like Henry. I'll also give the benefit of the doubt to the defense, at least to some degree, because while the offense did score 30, they did it in a way that made it tough on the defense, scoring on some big plays and quick drives without very many long sustained drives, leading in nearly 20-minute difference in time of possession favoring the Titans. Being on defense that long, especially against Henry, is a tough task for any defense.
For six quarters this season, the Seahawks defense has looked pretty good, and I'm confident over time it will look more like that than it will the unit that struggled to get stops in the second half on Sunday.
@KaySA99 asks, "If Blitz ever got put into a game, what position would he play and why?"
A: Hmm, tough question, so I consulted with the bird himself—that's right, I speak bird, or at least mascot bird.
Blitz pointed out that kicker is a non-starter with those giant feet, and the same can probably be said about traying to play receiver with wings instead of normal hands. The offensive and defensive lines can be ruled out based on size, so the conclusion we came to is that Blitz would play safety. For starters, Blitz would be a good free safety because he can really fly around back there (sorry, that was bad, even for me). Also, Blitz feels like Jamal Adams is the human version of Blitz when it comes to energy level, so that too makes safety a good fit.
Oh, and Blitz will definitely be on kick coverage since that group has already included him in the action in the past:
Megan Gaukroger from Inverell, New South Wales, Australia asks, "Greetings from a proud 12 Down Under. I know from a previous mailbag that Pete Carroll chews up to 15 pieces of gum during a game, but what is his preferred flavour and brand of gum?"
A: You are correct that there have been multiple Pete Carroll gum-related questions in past mailbags, and a while back I did look into his preferred type of gum as well. Turns out Carroll is a Bubble Yum man, going through, as Megan notes, 15 or so pieces a game.
@OlManRiver60 asks, "Taunting, WTF?"
A: By WTF you mean "why throw flag" right? We're gonna go with that to keep this family friendly. And to your point, like just about everyone else, I'm not a big fan of how strictly taunting has been enforced early this year. I get the idea of having a taunting rule to keep things from getting out of hand—you don't want situations that escalate into fights, nor do you want kids watching at home to think the most important part of the game is coming up with creative and elaborate ways to clown on their opponents. However, there's a difference between obviously trying to show up an opponent and a player just being fired up in the moment after a play, as was the case with D.J. Reed when he hopped to his feet, flexed a little and yelled while jogging away. And as for those impressionable young kids at home, it is OK to let something they see on TV be a teachable moment instead of assuming that parents and kids can't handle seeing something awful like a grown man who plays a game for a living having a little fun whilst playing said game.
As Carroll put it when asked about Reed's penalty Monday and the league's point of emphasis on taunting, "I think we've opened up a bit of a can of worms." Carroll wasn't arguing against the intent of having a taunting rule, but rather pointing out that it's really hard to draw the line between celebrating after a play and taunting if something as seemingly innocuous as Reed's celebration is a flag.
My hope is that, as is often the case with rules points of emphasis, is that a lot of flags early gives way to a more reasonable approach to enforcing the rule over time.