The 2021 league year is almost a month old, meaning a lot of free-agency moves have been done, and we're now only three weeks away from the NFL draft, so this seems like a great time to stop and take a look in the (virtual) mailbag and answers some questions from you, the fans. As always, thanks to everyone who asked questions, and apologies if I wasn't able to get to your question this time around.
@racepug asks, "Is it possible that the Seahawks have plateaued under Pete Carroll?"
A: Look, I get that fans are frustrated by the Seahawks' lack of playoff success in recent seasons, and that's fair. Expectations are really high when it comes to the Seahawks, both internally and among fans, so it's not up to anybody's standard that Seattle hasn't had a deep playoff run in several years.
But to say the Seahawks have plateaued under Pete Carroll and John Schneider is just not accurate. After an incredibly successful run, the Seahawks hit, by their standards, a lull in 2017, going 9-7 and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Carroll and Schneider didn't want to call it a rebuild, but they did significantly overhaul the roster the next offseason, yet despite a ton of turnover, they won 10 games and made the playoffs in 2018. The next year, the Seahawks went 11-5, missed out on a division title by less than a yard, and got to the divisional round of the playoffs for the seventh time in 10 seasons under Carroll and Schneider. Then last year, the Seahawks went 12-4 and won what was arguably the best division in the NFL. And again, I get it, the playoff exit to the Rams was frustrating, and everyone's goal this year will be to make a deep playoff run that hopefully ends with a return to the Super Bowl, but a team that has improved its win total for three straight years isn't plateauing.
And while a lack of recent playoff success can be frustrating, it's also worth remembering how few teams even get to that point with any regularity. The Brady-Belichick era Patriots skewed expectations for a lot of football fans, but outside of that dynasty, teams just don't go to Super Bowls on a regular basis. Other than those Patriots teams, only the Seahawks and Chiefs, who also failed to repeat, have reached back-to-back Super Bowls this century, and no team has a current streak of winning seasons longer than Seattle, which has nine straight.
The Seahawks have done all of that while playing in a very competitive division—five of the last nine NFC titles have been won by NFC West teams—and while never having the big ups and downs that are the norm in the NFL. Since Carroll and Schneider took over in 2010, the Seahawks have made the playoffs eight times, never finished last in their division, never had a record worse than 7-9, and have won the division five times and finished second five others, while finishing third in 2011. Over that same 11-year span, the other three NFC West teams have combined to win six division titles to Seattle's five, earned nine playoff berths to Seattle's eight, and each of those teams has finished in last place at least three times.
So all of that was a really long way of say that, yes, the Seahawks do need to take the next step in the playoffs, but no, they haven't plateaued, but even if they had, their plateau is a place most of NFL teams would take in a heartbeat.
@theairwalrus asks, "With the additions we made on the D-Line, does that make it a Top 5 unit?"
A: I'm not going to pretend to know every other team's defensive line talent and depth to assess where the Seahawks rank relative to the rest of the NFL, but I will say this has the potential to be the best and deepest line the Seahawks have had in a long time, perhaps since the Super Bowl teams of 2013 and 2014. The loss of Jarran Reed will hurt when it comes to the interior line, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Seahawks are still looking to add to the group that includes the likes of Poona Ford, Bryan Mone and veteran Al Woods, but it's also worth remembering that in today's pass-happy NFL, defensive ends like L.J. Collier, Kerry Hyder Jr. and Rasheem Green can play a lot of snaps as interior linemen. And when it comes to the Seahawks' defensive end rotation, that group has a chance to do a lot of damage. The Seahawks are bringing back pretty much everyone who was a part of last year's pass-rush rotation, plus they added Hyder, who led the 49ers in sacks last year with 8.5, and will be adding Darrell Taylor, a second-round pick who missed his rookie season due to injury, but who was earning rave reviews from Carroll when he returned to practice in January. If Taylor is able to contribute in a meaningful way, and if Alton Robinson makes the usual Year 1 to Year 2 improvements, that group, led by veterans like Carlos Dunlap II and Benson Mayowa, should be really deep and productive.
Former co-worker and Magic: The Gathering enthusiast @TonyDrovetto asks, "As both a dad and noted teller of corny jokes, what's your favorite dad joke?"
A: I'm less of a "tell a joke on command" type of dad joke guy, and more of a fan of observational humor and (bad) puns.
(Still not sorry for that one).
And come to think of it, if you're also the type who likes your jokes, dad or otherwise, in the form of puns or observational humor, then really, the king of dad jokes, even if he wasn't a dad, was Mitch Hedberg. Obviously his jokes are light years beyond typical dad jokes, but if you think about it, the use of dry humor, clever word play and witty observations are really essence of what all of us tellers of bad dad jokes strive for and consistently fall so short of at every turn.
So instead of me telling a joke that isn't funny, how about some Mitch Hedberg (warning, contains some naughty language).
@Zak38171773 asks, "Who do you think we'll sign next?"
A: I'm not going to go out and make predictions on specific players at this point, but we can look at the moves the Seahawks have made, the positions they have yet to address, and come up with guesses on positions that would make sense to address. To me the most obvious spots are cornerback and receiver, and depending on if K.J. Wright re-signs or not, strongside linebacker. At cornerback, the Seahawks lost both Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar in free agency, so while they did add Ahkello Witherspoon and do like the corners they do have, particularly D.J. Reed and Tre Flowers, who have significant starting experience, there's room to add competition to that position group. Also leaving in free agency was David Moore, last year's No. 3 receiver, as well as Phillip Dorsett, who before going down with a foot injury, looked like he was going to win that third-receiver role. And yes, the Seahawks have one of the league's best receiver duos in Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, but in today's NFL, the third receiver is essentially a starting role, and as of now there's no clear-cut answer there, though 2020 rookie Freddie Swain could be a strong candidate if nobody is added. As for strongside linebacker, Wright would obviously be a great fit if the Seahawks can get a deal done, but if he were to sign elsewhere, then the question is whether the Seahawks want to go with Cody Barton there or look to sign or draft somebody to compete for that role.
All of that being said, the Seahawks A. could address one or more of those positions in the draft rather than free agency, and B. even of those appear to be the most pressing needs, they don't have to be the positions the Seahawks address next, so just about any player could be the next signing.
@danno8609 asks, "Will we draft Penei Sewell? I think we should."
A: Unless you know about a blockbuster trade I haven't heard about that's netting the Seahawks a Top 10 pick, then no, I don't think the Seahawks will draft the Oregon left tackle who is expected to be one of the first non-quarterbacks selected in this year's draft.
@Chazz_US_Marine asks, "Are the Seahawks going to add any more edge rushers?"
A: The Seahawks re-signed Carlos Dunlap II and Benson Mayowa this offseason, and added former 49ers defensive end Kerry Hyder Jr., and are also counting on young players like Darrell Taylor, Alton Robinson and L.J. Collier to be big factors, so edge rush doesn't appear to be a big need as of now. That being said, Carroll and Schneider subscribe to the common-in-football-circles theory that a team can never have too many good pass rushers, so if there's a good player available in the draft, or if a free agent still on the market looks to be a good value, then yes, I could definitely see the Seahawks try to add to an already deep group.
@CalHoskison asks, "Is Rashaad Penny expected to eat into Chris Carson's workload this year?"
A: I guess it depends on how you define eating into Carson's workload, but if both backs are healthy all year—no sure thing given the violent nature of that position—I'd imagine you could see something similar to Penny's use late in the 2019 season prior to his knee injury when, while not the starting back, he was very involved in the offense. Obviously we don't know yet what the offense will look like under new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, but if the Seahawks offense is functioning well, there should be plenty of carries to go around for two backs. Injuries limited Carlos Hyde to only 10 games last season, and he still had 81 carries as Seattle's No. 2 behind Carson, so if Penny stays healthy, and if the Seahawks get back to being a bit more balanced on offense, as Carroll stated was his plan at the end of the season, then Penny should easily be looking at 100-plus carries over the course of a season, even with Carson leading the way.
Take a look back at Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett's first seven seasons in the NFL.