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Seahawks Mailbag: Defensive Expectations, Receiver Footwork & More

You had Seahawks questions; we have answers. 

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Greetings all. With voluntary offseason workouts underway and the Seahawks beginning the process of preparing for the 2021 season, it's time once again to open up 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.

@Mike_DeFran7 asks, "How well do you envision the defense playing assuming they stay mostly healthy?"

A: This is a really good question considering how unusual of a season Seattle's defense had last year. As most of you probably will recall, the Seahawks had one of the worst defenses in the league, statistically speaking, through eight games, then one of the NFL's best in the second half of the season. Yes, the Seahawks played stronger offenses and quarterbacks in the first half of the year, but a lot of that turnaround was real, most notably the improved pass rush and also some of the cohesion the secondary found later in the year when it came to coverage.

The Seahawks lost Shaquill Griffin and Quinton Dunbar in free agency, so they have questions to answer at cornerback—though they played without Dunbar in the second half of last season so that loss will be felt less than that of Griffin. They also released Jarran Reed in a salary-cap related move, and as of now K.J. Wright remains unsigned, so there will be some changes. But minus the loss of Reed, the defensive line and the pass rush in particular looks even deeper than it did last year, and while there are competitions to play out at cornerback, there is good depth there to battle for those starting spots. The Seahawks also will be adding 2020 second-round pick Darrell Taylor to the mix after he missed his rookie season with a leg injury, and should have Marquise Blair back after he lost almost all of last season to a knee injury after being a big bright spot in training camp. Lastly, considering how unique of a player he is, I think Jamal Adams will be even better with a full year in Seattle's defense under his belt, and with coaches having a full season to get to know how best to use him, and that's saying something considering he was a Pro-Bowler and second-team All-Pro last year after recording 9.5 sacks in 12 games.

All of that is a long way of saying that, while there are definitely some questions to answer, most notably at cornerback, and if Wright doesn't re-sign, at linebacker, overall there are plenty of reasons to think the Seahawks defense will look more like it did in the second half of last season than it did in the first.

@yo_ger asks, "Which receiver on the Seahawks has the best footwork, and how does it compare to Doug Baldwin?"

A: That title has to go to Tyler Lockett, not just for his route-running, which is top-notch, but also for his footwork on the sidelines where he is one of the best in the league at finding a way to get two feet down for a catch that didn't look possible at full speed.

As for Baldwin, he and Lockett were different players, though both will go down as two of the best receivers in franchise history. Lockett has more top-end speed that Baldwin did—though Baldwin was no slouch there—while Baldwin's short-area quickness and ability to make defenders look silly at the line scrimmage was among the very best in the league while he was playing.

@StevenAdcox1 asks, "Any updates on the cornerback competition?"

A: As referenced earlier, cornerback will be one of the more wide-open competitions in training camp when it comes to starting jobs.

Given how well he played last season after taking over a starting role, D.J. Reed would have to be considered one of the favorites for one of the starting spots—and he has played on both the right and left side so he could be used at either—but he'll have to earn it. Also very much in the mix are Tre Flowers, a starter for most of his first three seasons, free-agent additions Ahkello Witherspoon and Pierre Desir, who both have significant starting experience, fourth-round pick Tre Brown, and veteran defensive back Damarious Randall, who is moving from safety back to cornerback, the position he played for his first three seasons in the league.

@hollbery03 asks, "What is one of the funniest moments from covering the Hawks that you will never forget?"

A: There have been quite a few over the years, a few of which I can't share here, including some hilarious but not-appropriate-for-seahawks.com moments involving Marshawn Lynch (let's just say his retelling of a pickup basketball game involving a few of his teammates was rather memorable).

One moment that comes to mind right away are the 2011 locker room dance-off between rookie cornerback Richard Sherman and defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove, which happened to take place during the period open to the media. Another was in 2009 when Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers accused defensive end Darryl Tapp of biting him in a pile of players. To prove his innocence the following week, Tapp put on his helmet and asked for volunteers, and I offered up my arm, which he comically tried and failed to get into his facemask in order to bite.

@lovinlife2617 asks, "What is your honest opinion about our draft class?"

A: In a way it's the same as my opinion of every draft class a month after the fact: I have no clue how this will work out. As John Schneider likes to point out after every draft, you never hear a team say right after the draft that they don't love their picks, just like you don't hear a surgeon say he or she really botched a surgery right after the fact. I will say the players the Seahawks selected are all exciting prospects based off their play in college, and all three also fit short or long-term needs. D'Wayne Eskridge is a dynamic athlete who could immediately step into the No. 3 receiver role, while Tre Brown will jump into a deep competition at cornerback for starting jobs. Both should also help right away on special teams, potentially as returners and/or on coverage teams. The path to immediate playing time might be less clear for tackle Stone Forsythe, but he was a standout pass-protector at Florida, and the Seahawks' top three tackles from last year—Duane Brown, Brandon Shell and Cedric Ogbuehi—will all be free agents after the 2021 season if they don't sign news deals between now and next March, so adding depth there made plenty of sense.

@KuhlHawkFan asks, "Which players will be competing for kickoff and punt return duties?

A: D.J. Reed was impressive in his return chances last year, but it's possible if he ends up being a starting cornerback that the Seahawks could look to fill those roles with other players, and the Seahawks have plenty of intriguing options, including their top two draft picks, D'Wayne Eskridge and Tre Brown. Second-year receiver Freddie Swain also has some return experience and returned a handful of kickoffs in 2020, as did running back Travis Homer. And while he hasn't been used much in the return game so far in his career, Ugo Amadi was a standout returner at Oregon and looked dynamic in that role during the preseason in 2019, so he could be a factor as well. Another name to watch in camp will be undrafted rookie Connor Wedington, who returned kicks for Stanford in addition to playing receiver.

Robert Jett from Bow, Washington asks, "Could Will Dissly have a breakout season in Seattle's new offense? I think his potential is still untapped."

A: We don't know yet exactly what Shane Waldron's offense will look like, but assuming it does have at least some elements of the Rams offense, then yes, that is a pretty good offense for tight ends. Perhaps more important than the specifics of the offense is the fact that Dissly should come into this season in as good of a place, physically, as he has been since early in his rookie year. Dissly has made two impressive comebacks from serious injuries, one a torn patellar tendon and the other a ruptured Achilles, and is coming off of his first 16-game season. That means for the first time since 2018, Dissly is spending this time of year getting ready for football, not rehabbing an injury. That factor, along with the fact that he's that much further removed from his injuries, should help Dissly be better from a physical standpoint in 2021.

Robert Lackner from Auburn asks, "Will fans be allowed at Lumen Field this season, and if so, will there be a vaccine requirement?"

The Seahawks are moving forward preparing to have fans at Lumen Field this fall and are working closely with the league as well as local public health and government officials while making those plans. Below are some frequently asked questions with the answers provided by the organization

Q: With ticket sales ongoing, do you expect to have a full capacity stadium?

A: We are thrilled to be actively preparing to host fans at Lumen Field in the fall, including conducting our standard ticket sales process. We are continuing to work closely with the NFL, as well as local public health and government officials on planning for gameday and will continue to follow all local guidelines for public sporting events. While we are hopeful for the future, should we be required to limit fans in attendance at any time this season, the same fan-friendly ticket policies for refunds or account credits will be applied in 2021. Specific details will be provided to ticket holders at that time.

Q: Will there be any specific requirements in order to attend games?

A: We are continuing to work closely with local public health and government officials to ensure the safest possible environment for all guests, players and staff. As current conditions for public sporting events are frequently changing, specific guidelines for Seahawks gamedays will be communicated later this summer. A comprehensive overview of Lumen Field's current safety protocols and COVID-19 enhancements can be found online.

Q: What is the refund policy for single game ticket purchases through Ticketmaster?

A: If a game is cancelled and is not rescheduled within 30 days, is moved to a new location, or if capacities are limited or prohibit fans from attending, ticket holders will receive a refund for the ticket purchase price. You can review Ticketmaster's full COVID-19 refund policy online. If you resell your tickets through the NFL Ticket Exchange, the funds will process through to your account only after the game kicks off in order to protect both the buyer and seller in the event of any schedule or capacity changes.

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Single Game Tickets Are On Sale!

The 2021 Schedule is out and we cannot wait to see the 12s at Lumen Field

Diana Hedman from Burien says, "Please give K.J. Wright a new contract. We need more outstanding citizens/players like K.J."

A: Well Diana, you're correct in your assessment of Wright's talents and character, but you greatly overestimate the powers of the team's digital media reporter if you think I can re-sign Wright. Believe it or not, the front office isn't seeking my advice on free agency… or anything else.

But on a more serious note…

@Cvm2002Dina asks, "What do we see happening with K.J. Wright?"

A: I honestly don't have a good feel for it at this point, and as John Schneider said when asked about Wright last month, I'm surprised Wright is still a free agent at this point consider how well he played in 2020. At this point, it would seem most likely that veterans the caliber of Wright, Richard Sherman, etc., might wait until closer to training camp to make up their minds, but as Pete Carroll said earlier this offseason, the door isn't closed to bringing Wright back for an 11th season.

Tracy Mahnken from Woodinville asked last Friday, "When will the dates and times for the preseason games be announced?"

A: Tracy's timing with this question was excellent, because within hours of sending it the Seahawks announced dates and times of their preseason games. By now most of you have probably seen it, but in case anyone missed Friday's announcement and wanted to know, here are the dates/times of Seattle's three preseason games, all of which can be seen locally on Q13 FOX:

  • At Las Vegas Raiders, Saturday, August 14, 6 p.m.
  • Denver Broncos, Saturday, August 21, 7 p.m.
  • Los Angeles Chargers, Saturday August 28, 7 p.m.

@IPA_Hawks_45ACP asks, "Are the Seahawks looking at Morgan Moses?" @Truthistold2U also asks about the potential of signing the veteran free agent tackle.

A: In the words of John Schneider, the Seahawks scouts and executives wouldn't be doing their jobs if they didn't at least look into just about every potential addition to team, so when the Washington Football Team released Moses, their longtime starting right tackle, I'm sure the Seahawks at least had a discussion about it. Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine, though I will say the Seahawks liked what they saw from Brandon Shell last year, as well as from Cedric Ogbuehi when he took over late in the season for an injured Shell, so they likely don't see that as a position of need.

A look back at some of the best photos of Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll from the 2020 season.

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