The Seahawks clinched a playoff berth with Sunday's win in Washington, and now turn their attention to winning the NFC West, something they can do this weekend if they beat the Los Angeles Rams. Before we turn our attention to that game, 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 wasn't able to get to yours this time around.
Greg Lindsey from Las Cruces, New Mexico asks, "Overall, how confident does the defense feel heading into the postseason?"
A: The Seahawks defense is playing with a lot of confidence, and for good reason. Yes, the Seahawks haven't faced the NFL's top offenses over the past few weeks, but they're on a six-game run now of consistently playing really good defense, and team's just don't do that by accident; it's what happens when a defense finds its way and starts playing well.
After allowing 30.4 points per game through their first eight games, the Seahawks again looked like they were in for a long day, defensively, when they played the Rams in Week 10, but they turned things around in the second half, allowing only six points. Including that 23-16 loss to the Rams, the Seahawks are allowing just 16 points per game over the past six games, tied for the fewest in the league over that span, and they've held their last four opponents under 20 points, something Seattle hasn't done since the start of the 2016 season.
"Our defense has continued to improve and play good ball," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday. "We're just so much better than we were earlier in the year. You guys have been asking about it, and it's the truth. We're excited about it and looking forward to keep getting better. There's still so many ways we can improve, so we're still looking for that game that we just do it all right. It's out there for us."
@BorkeAlex asks, "How will the Seahawks incorporate Rashaad Penny to their already potent offense?"
A: That's a great question, and as offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer noted last week, it's a great problem to have. If you'll recall, the Seahawks were in a pretty dire situation at running back at this time last year, having to sign Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin after losing their top three running backs late in the season. This time around, they've got Chris Carson, Carlos Hyde and now Rashaad Penny, giving them some great options for running the ball.
As for how they work him in, it will probably depend on game situations and how much the Seahawks run the ball. If they have a run-heavy game plan, there should be enough carries to get all three of those backs involved, but if in a particular game the Seahawks need to lean more on the passing game, then either Penny or Hyde might be the odd man out behind Carson.
Penny didn't play much last week as the Seahawks just got his feet wet a bit against Washington, but look for him to slowly get more touches, and perhaps compete with Hyde for the No. 2 job after he gets up to speed.
But again, regardless of how things shake out, the Seahawks feel great about having three great options to carry the ball as they head into the final games of the regular season and the postseason.
@ThatWiiMaster asks, "Will Greg Olsen return in the regular season or will he be saved for the playoffs?"
A: Carroll said Monday that they hope to get Olsen back this week, so if all goes well in practice, there's a good chance he suits up for Sunday's game. Much like running back, however, the Seahawks have enough depth at tight end that they won't need to rush Olsen back or force him into a big role if he needs more time. Will Dissly and Jacob Hollister have both played well in Olsen's absence, and rookie Colby Parkinson has shown progress since returning from injury, so again, Seattle won't need Olsen to rush back and immediately take on a starting role.
But getting Olsen back will give the Seahawks another great veteran presence, not to mention another weapon in the passing game, and it's also great news for Olsen, who didn't want to see his season, and perhaps his career, come to an end with the foot injury that landed him on IR last month.
@dougthecoach asks, "Could ADR (Angry Dennis Reed) be the answer at cornerback despite his lack of size?"
A: First off, I very much enjoy this nickname for D.J. Reed, who said he came into last weekend's game "pissed off just because." And Pete Carroll even referenced Doug Baldwin, AKA Angry* Doug Baldwin, when discussing the chip Reed has on his shoulder.
As for the question, yes, it does appear he might keep the starting spot at right corner despite being much smaller than a typical Seahawks outside cornerback (though it's worth noting that the 5-foot-9 Reed does have pretty long arms for his height, measuring 31 5/8 inches at his pro day).
Carroll didn't outright declare Reed will start when Quinton Dunbar and/or Tre Flowers return from injured reserve, but did say Reed is in the lead to hold that position for at least this week.
"He's playing good football," Carroll said after Reed had an interceptions and three passes defensed against Washington. "I like all the activity and the consistency that he's shown, and he's tackling pretty well. He's just a playmaker. He has the lead to hold that spot at least going into this week. We should get Tre back this week. Quinton practiced all last week. He should be in better shape for this week, we'll see how that all works out. We're getting stronger."
Considering the injuries the Seahawks have dealt with at cornerback this year—Shaquill Griffin, Dunbar and Flowers have all missed multiple games—having another starting-caliber player in Reed is a great thing for the defense regardless of how things play out, but if Reed starts again and plays like he did against Washington, it's going to be hard for anyone to take his job.
And even though he's not the ideal size, Carroll is will to overlook their usual standards if that player has special talents to compensate, which Reed does.
"He's just a different style player," Carroll said. "His feet are just lightning fast and his athleticism is just—he's so sudden. He can make up for—he has to stay out of situations where he gets pushed around or shoved around. He's 183 pounds, but he knows how to do it. I'm really fired up about his play. Everybody knows about the long-armed corners and all that stuff, that's what I've always wanted, but way back in the day at NC State we had Perry Williams—you guys don't remember him, he played for the Giants for a long time—he was beautiful, 6-2. Then we had Donnie LeGrande, he was about 5-7. Both those guys played back in the day. That's where all of our corner play, the source of it, started. They come in different shapes and sizes. We just have to be open to it and not be stubborn that everybody has to be like this mold. It couldn't be more obvious. Look at our quarterback."
*—Baldwin has always maintained that this nickname given to him by teammates was inaccurate, because he's passionate, not angry.
Go behind the scenes from the Seattle Seahawks' Week 15 game vs. the Washington Football Team at FedExField. Eye on the Hawks is presented by Western Washington Toyota Dealers.