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Seahawks Mailbag: Changes To The Offense With Geno Smith, Defense Stepping Up & More

You had Seahawks questions; we have answers. 

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The Seahawks head to Pittsburgh this week in an unfamiliar situation. For the first time since 2011, Russell Wilson won't be starting at quarterback, and instead Geno Smith will take over for Wilson, who had surgery on his injured middle finger on Friday. And with that significant news in mind, it's time once again to 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.

@Rjones3438 asks, "How will the playbook change with Geno now as the starter? In other words, are there plays more suitable to his style of play vs. Russ'?"

A: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made it clear that given Smith's talents, as well as the time he has been with the team, the Seahawks feel like they can continue to operate at a high level on offense, and that they won't have to change what they're doing to accommodate a new quarterback.

"He's a very talented football player, he has a great arm, great sense, and he knows the system really well," Carroll said Friday. "I totally trust that Geno can do this, and I think you saw it last night in a very difficult situation in hurry up and he was really good at it. He really understands the system, so we will be able to stay with the preparation and that will help everybody. Geno makes guys around him feel confident and feel comfortable. I thought that was a great showing."

On Monday, Carroll praised Smith's physical talents, as well as his knowledge of Seattle's offense, noting, "He throws the ball impeccably well, I mean, he's got great throwing mechanics and all of that. He can make all the throws." So by no means does it sound like the Seahawks plan to scale back the offense.

That being said, no two quarterbacks are exactly alike, so it wouldn't be fair to expect Smith to come out and look exactly like Wilson. And because every quarterback is different, it's entirely possible that Smith and offensive coordinator Shane Waldron decide there are certain elements of the offense that fit him better and certain things that don't, so yes, you could see the offense look a little different. But again, this isn't a case of a young player in over his head where the team will have to water down the offense. As Smith showed late in last week's game, he's more than capable of leading an offense and scoring points.

@CodyBailey1996 asks, "We all know Geno is capable of scoring, but can he keep up with this defense not getting stops? Will the defense step up in the absence of Russ?"

A: Quite frankly, the defense needs to step up no matter who is playing quarterback. Even with Russell Wilson on the field, the Seahawks have lost three games, and while it's not fair to blame any one thing for those losses, the defense has certainly had its struggles in all three losses.

No matter how well Smith plays, it will be hard to get wins if teams are moving the ball as well as Minnesota did in Week 3, or as well as Tennessee and Los Angeles did in the second half of their wins.

As Carroll said a day after the loss to the Rams, he's "really disappointed" with how the defense has played so far this season, and he knows it's on everyone, starting with him, to get it right, again, regardless of who is playing quarterback.

If there's a silver lining to be found in all of this, it's that Seattle's defense struggled in the first half last season, then turned things around and played very well in the second half of the season, allowing only 16.0 points per game and being among the league leaders in sacks. Though the difference last year is that the Seahawks were able to start the season 5-0 despite the defensive issues, while this year's they're 2-3, so as Carroll put it, the Seahawks "have to get it right" and they need to do so ASAP.

@Rogervanoo asks, "When Tre Brown returns to practice, which side will he compete for?"

A: Brown actually returned to practice last week, and will continue to practice this week with the goal of getting himself added back to the 53-man roster soon (players coming back from injured reserve can practice for up to three weeks without counting towards the roster, though they have to be added back to the roster before playing in games). As for where he'll play, that could depend on where the Seahawks feel like they need more competition. Brown played both sides during training camp, so in theory he could provide depth and/or compete with the starters on either side, though it is worth noting that late in camp just before his injury, he was starting to get first-team reps at left cornerback, so perhaps that's where he gets the most work for now as he gets back up to speed.

Also, when it comes to Brown, regardless of what happens at cornerback, don't sleep on his impact on special teams when he does return—he was a standout in that phase of the game at Oklahoma and will likely have a big role there when he's back on the roster.

@nsnjubaily asks if the Seahawks are looking for another quarterback in case there are further injuries there.

A: It seems very unlikely the Seahawks will sign anyone who would start ahead of Smith, both because they really like what they have in Smith, and also because it's very, very difficult to get up to speed at that position in a hurry, and Wilson is expected back at some point, so this isn't necessarily a super long-term situation. That being said, adding more depth at position seems like a very likely possibility. The Seahawks have almost always had a third quarterback on the practice squad if not on the 53-man roster, and so far this year that player has been Jake Luton. Luton will presumably be added to the roster at some point this week to back up Smith, or he could be elevated from the practice squad on Saturday without being added to the roster. But having a third quarterback makes a lot of sense from a depth standpoint, and I'd be pretty surprised if somebody isn't added either to the practice squad or the roster this week.

@lil_aban asks, "Do you think the Seahawks will end up being forced to make a trade for a cornerback?"

A: I'm not sure what being "forced to make a trade" means, but is a trade something they'll consider between now and the trade deadline? Sure. The Seahawks have shown a willingness to make a lot of changes at cornerback this year, via trades, free agency and, during the season, changes to the starting lineup, so everything is in play. Obviously the hope would be that the current duo of D.J. Reed and Sidney Jones IV settle into their roles and things improve there and on the defense overall, or that short of that working out, someone already on the team like Tre Brown or Bless Austin can help things improve, but again, if the Seahawks were willing to make so many changes in August and September, there's no reason to think they won't at least consider another trade if the right player is available.

@HolliWinters asks, "Can we suit up Russ for each game and have him start? He could just hand it off for one play then Geno can come in for the rest of the game. There has to be a way to keep that consecutive-starts streak alive?"

A: Haha, I like where your head is at, but sadly that isn't going to happen. For starters, the Seahawks could decide to put Wilson on injured reserve to free up a roster spot while he's out, and even if they don't do that, he would still be inactive on gameday so a healthy player could take that spot instead. And besides, I can't imagine a competitor like Wilson would like to see his consecutive games streak continue with a giant asterisk by it. Instead, he's probably already thinking about starting a new 10-year streak.

But since you brought this topic up, it is worth reiterating just how impressive Wilson's durability has been over the past 10 seasons. He has started all 165 games of his career, postseason included, and prior to Thursday, he had either finished every one of those, or only come out late in the game due to a lopsided score. Wilson had on a couple of occasions left games for a couple of plays due to injury, most recently in 2017 when he was checked out for a concussion in a game at Arizona, but he had never been unable to finish a game before Thursday.

And Wilson's durability extended to the practice field as well. Even when Wilson has had to deal with various injuries that he has been able to play through, such as knee or ankle injuries in 2016, he never missed practice. Prior to Monday, Wilson had never missed a regular-season practice, and his only absences from any sort of practice were when he missed a day of training camp to attend his grandfather's funeral, and when he missed some of the team's voluntary offseason organized team activities to support Jimmy Graham at the funeral of his mentor.

@Sehawksfan12s requests, "Trade for Marlon Mack."

A: The Seahawks employee named John who is capable of making that happen is not the John doing this mailbag. Sorry.

@hollberry03 asks, "What's your best dad joke?"

A: A man walks into a bar… 

Ouch.

Or if I need a laugh out of my kids…

"Knock, knock."

"Who's there?"

"Interrupting cow."

"Interrupting cow wh…"

"MOOO!"

Longtime Seahawks guard Steve Hutchinson was recognized for his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame with a special halftime ceremony on October 7, 2021, when the Seahawks took on the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday Night Football at Lumen Field.

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