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Seahawks Mailbag: Geno Smith's Great Start, Receiver Depth & More

You had Seahawks questions; we have answers.

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Happy Tuesday, everybody. The Seahawks are in first place, the news on DK Metcalf's knee injury was positive, and now, in the best news yet, it's mailbag time. OK, that's probably not the best news yet, but keep reading anyway. It'll be fun, I promise.

As always, thanks to everyone who asked questions this week, and apologies if I couldn't get to yours this time around. And remember, if you have the good fortune to not spend all your time on Twitter like I do, then you can also submit questions online via the form at Seahawks.com/mailbag.

Charlie Johnson from Dallas asks, "Based on his current performance, are the Seahawks looking to build around Geno Smith to try to go win a Super Bowl, or to use a first-round pick on a quarterback in 2023?" @Hollberry03 also asks about re-signing Geno Smith vs. using a first-round pick on a quarterback.

A: Well for starters, no matter what the Seahawks do next offseason, their goal will be to field a championship-caliber team, as we're seeing this season when a lot of folks outside the organization thought they were rebuilding with the 2023 draft in mind, but Pete Carroll and John Schneider went ahead and put together a contending team anyway even after moving on from a couple of franchise icons.

But as for your Smith question, your point is correct that he is very much looking like a quarterback who could be a big part of the team's future and not just a placeholder for a 2023 first-round pick. Of course the Seahawks and Smith will have to figure out the business side of things first if he is going to be part of the future, as he is currently on a one-year deal—and he's playing himself in a well-deserved big raise right now—but if the Seahawks can figure out a way to get Smith re-signed, or if they decide to use the franchise tag on him, that gives them the luxury of heading into the draft not feeling like they're forced to take a quarterback early.

That being said, I don't think re-signing Smith would necessarily eliminate the Seahawks from drafting a quarterback in the first couple of rounds. The beauty of having four picks in the first two rounds is that the Seahawks could take a quarterback if the right one is there, and still draft a lot of other good players who could potentially contribute right away. I could definitely see a scenario where the Seahawks re-sign Smith and still draft a quarterback, knowing they're in a good position with a proven veteran and young player with upside to develop for the future.

On a related note…

@RealQ_Jackson90 asks, "Is Geno Smith a Comeback Player of the Year nominee?"

A: This is an interesting one, because to me I've always thought of Comeback Player of the Year being an award for someone coming back from a serious injury or other form of adversity that kept them off the field, such as last year's winner Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow, who tore his ACL as a rookie, then had a great second season as the Bengals made the playoffs and eventually reached the Super Bowl.

I suppose you could argue that a lack of opportunity to compete for a starting job is its own form of adversity, and there is a really good case to make that Smith should have at least gotten another shot at starting long before this year. So if we're concluding that Smith is eligible to be Comeback Player of the Year, then yes, he should not just be a nominee, he should be a frontrunner for the award. After all, he has been by just about any measure one of the very best quarterbacks in the NFL while leading a team that is currently leading its division. If the Seahawks stay competitive and if Smith keeps playing at a level even close to this, he should be up for Comeback Player of the Year and plenty of other honors.

@Kapaa6000 asks, "Given DK Metcalf's injury (hoping for a fast recovery), what player will step up at receiver?"

A: Seven games into the season, Metcalf and Tyler Lockett have seen the bulk of the targets among Seattle's receivers, and obviously the Seahawks will count on Lockett to continue to be a huge part of the offense if Metcalf does miss time, which as of Monday wasn't a sure thing. Behind Lockett, the Seahawks will look to veteran Marquise Goodwin, who is coming off his best game as a Seahawk with two touchdowns and 67 yards, and second-year receiver Dee Eskridge to step up.

"It is important that those guys can contribute," Carroll said of Goodwin and Eskridge. "Eskridge is really starting to get comfortable and he shows you the explosiveness and toughness. He still shows the newness, but he's doing well, good blocker, good aggressive blocker. Marquise will continue to show in more areas. There's nothing that he can't do in the system and all that, but it's hard when there are only so many guys out there that can play and so many balls that they can catch. But this opportunity, he will jump at it right now. There is no doubt that if DK can't go this weekend, those guys are going to play a bigger part. So, we are going to need them to come through."

Beyond those two receivers, the Seahawks also have rookie Dareke Young on the 53-man roster, so his role should likely increase some, and there are practice squad options as well if the Seahawks felt like they needed more depth. It's also worth pointing out that the tight ends have all been pretty involved in the passing game even before Metcalf's injury, so some of the adjustment if Metcalf can't go this week could come in the form of more multiple tight-end sets and more targets for the trio of Will Dissly, Noah Fant and Colby Parkinson.

DB Nelson from Spokane asks, "Why would a defensive back intercept a pass 30 yards downfield on fourth down?"

A: This is a very good question, and one that's come up a couple times this season. In Seattle's win over Arizona, Tariq Woolen intercepted a pass down the sideline on fourth down, meaning had he batted it down, the Seahawks would have had better field position. Quandre Diggs, meanwhile, has been really close to interceptions on fourth down a couple of occasions, but not come down with the ball.

It might be easy when watching a game to say, "Oh, he should bat that down and not catch it," but it's asking a lot of a player who constantly practices trying to take the ball away to suddenly turn off that instinct when the ball is in the air. Plus, in some cases there's a chance at a return, in which case picking it off might be beneficial if a player can get a long return or even score off the interception. And lastly, players can have incentives tied to interceptions, or those picks can help a player get Pro-Bowl or All-Pro recognition, which could in turn affect their next contract negotiation, so it can actually hurt a player, financially speaking, not to go for the ball in that situation.

Defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt was asked about this very topic last week, and said that, barring end-of-game Hail Mary type situations, he has no problem with an interception that might cost the team a little field position.

"On that deal, when a ball is high pointed, in that situation, you go get it," he said. "As long as you wrap it up and put it away, I'm fine. It's hard to sit there and tell a guy, instinctually, don't be a player when we want you to be a player. That's a tough deal, but I understand."

John Kohler from Lakewood asks, "When are the Seahawks going to stop with the Black Lives Matter crap? I'm an average guy with an average job, and from where I sit there is no problem. Everyone is accepted and has an opportunity to succeed and fail on their own merits."

A: Here's the thing, John. If there's no problem from where you sit, then you're fortunate to come from a place of privilege where, due to the color of your skin or your financial situation or a myriad of other factors, you're able to avoid a very real problem that persists in this country, no matter how many people want to ignore or deny it.

It's simply not true that everyone has the same opportunity to succeed and fail on their own merits; centuries of systemic racism, much of it government sanctioned, has led to unequal treatment of Black people in everything from education to health care to financial systems to the criminal justice system. And there are mountains of data and research and history books that back this up if you care to look into it.

So when Black people who understand these problems and have lived them are able to work their way to a position of prominence—in this case as NFL players—they have every right to use that platform to fight for social justice, and to state in every way they see fit that their lives matter, even as this country has for generations put so much effort into showing them that they don't.

@wenfot asks, "Having to play a road game on Christmas Eve has to be rough? Does the team take December 25 and 26 off so they can spend time with their families?"

A: You're correct that being on the road for a Christmas Eve game is less than ideal, but the thing to remember is that everyone who works in the NFL, be it players, coaches or any other staff that works on gameday, got into this job understanding that working through the holidays is just part of the deal.

And with Christmas falling on a Sunday this year, most teams, the Seahawks included, play on Saturday. I don't have the team's schedule that far out, but I would assume that, yes, the team would take Sunday off for sure. Monday is normally a work day for players with meetings and workouts, but no practice, though I suppose it could work out to push some of that into Tuesday, the regular players day off, if Pete Carroll and company wanted to give folks a two-day break.

@biscoemix asks, "Do you see the Seahawks making any kind of move before or at the trade deadline?"

A: I don't necessarily think the Seahawks are looking to trade away future picks to make a big splash at the deadline—they really like the young nucleus they're building, plus they like the idea of heading into 2023 with a ton of draft capital—but that being said, you can never rule out the Seahawks when it comes to being involved in a trade. General manager John Schneider takes pride in making sure he leaves no stone unturned, so if there's a good player to be had at a reasonable price, I'm sure they'd at least consider it. Or if the Seahawks have good depth at a particular position and a team comes calling, they would at least listen.

Carl Wittenberg from Bellevue writes to say, "John, quite a few weeks ago, you chastised a person who wrote in because there were some mistakes in spelling and grammar in his letter," then goes on to point out two errors in a recent mailbag.

A: Hi Carl, you're referring to a mailbag in which John from Chehalis wrote in to complain about the preseason broadcast including Michael Bennett and Michael Robinson, and yes, I had a little fun with that question, breaking it down and pointing out a number of errors.

There are typos and grammatical errors in many, many mailbag submissions and over the course of eight seasons, I've never once pointed them out or cared at all about it, the reason I made an example out of John from Chehalis had a lot less to do with his typos, and a lot more to do with the very insulting content of the question in which he called Bennett and Robinson "idiots" and said "they are (expletive) terrible and have a poor command of the English language." Ignoring for a moment that insulting the intelligence of Black men who are clearly intelligent, but maybe speak a little differently than you is an old racist trope—and really, we shouldn't ignore that—it's just ridiculous to me that if you're going to publicly call out someone's intelligence, you wouldn't bother to proof read those insults first and make sure your own command of the English language is in order.

Had John left out the insults and made a few typos while saying he wasn't a fan of the preseason broadcast because he prefers more traditional, less casual and humorous commentary, I can assure you'd I'd have just cleaned up his question, posted it and answered it as always. But again, if you're going to be a jerk about it, I'm going to stick up for two former players who I know to be very intelligent people.

As for the mistakes you pointed out in last week's mailbag, yes, I did make an error while editing in one instance you pointed out, and it has been fixed. In the part about travel, I had written buses leave about two hours after the game ends, then found out it was more like 90 minutes, and while I thought I fixed it, I obviously didn't, so as you pointed out, it had no time listed. So sincerely, thanks for catching that. Though the other thing you pointed out was not an error and I suggest you read it again. The "B. Carroll" was not meant to be an initial P as you suggested, it was the B in a list that had an item A right before it. I always try to avoid errors, but when writing in high volumes and often on deadline, mistakes are inevitable, even with a second person editing stories, and I appreciate when folks politely point them out, as you did. What I'm not OK with, as was the case with John from Chehalis, is being rude and taking shots at someone's intelligence while making a ton of errors himself.

Ken Fischer from Apex, NC asks, "Are the Seahawks the only NFL team to switch conferences twice?"

A: A lot of casual NFL fans probably don't know it, but as Ken's question notes, the Seahawks have changed conferences twice, coming into the league in 1976 as a member of the NFC West before switching to the AFC West the next season. Tampa Bay, which came into the NFL along with the Seahawks, went from the AFC West to the NFC Central in 1977. But while the Bucs have remained in the NFC ever since that 1977 switch, the Seahawks went back to the NFC West in the 2002 realignment.

And to answer your question, Ken, as far as I can tell, that indeed makes Seattle the only team to switch conferences twice since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger.

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