What a difference a couple of weeks can make, right? Things looked bleak for the Seahawks a couple weeks ago after they lost a fourth straight game, falling to 6-7, but after winning two straight, including Sunday's comeback win in Tennessee, the Seahawks are 8-7 and back in control of their playoff destiny.
Next up is a New Year's Eve home game against the Steelers, who are also fighting for a playoff berth, but before we turn our attention to that game, it's time once again to open up the mailbag and answer some questions from you, the fans. As always, thanks to everyone who took time to send in questions this week, and apologies if I wasn't able to get to yours this time around. And remember, the mailbag is always open for submissions at Seahawks.com/mailbag.
@Dingerhitter270 asks, "Why does this team like to give fans a heart attack every week?"
A: Haha, welcome to being a Seahawks fan.
Part of the answer is simply that, in a league designed to create parity, there are going to be a lot of close games for every team, not just the Seahawks, but to your point, they do seem to have more than their fare share of late-game drama.
Sometimes that can be by design—Carroll has mentioned after certain games that, whether it be because of an opponent's style or inclement weather or some other factor, he's comfortable playing a more conservative game, staying in it and relying on his team's ability to finish. Other times it can just be random circumstances. And again, there are plenty of close games around the league every year, and one positive trait for a lot of Carroll's teams is that they do finish well, including this season with Geno Smith leading four game-winning drives and Drew Lock leading another. And look no further than last week's opponent to know what the other side of falling short in close games can feel like; the Titans, who fell to 5-10 with Sunday's loss, have lost seven of those games by single-digit margins.
One reason for that late-game success could be that, as Smith noted after the game, the Seahawks spent a lot of time, practicing late-game situations, more, he said, that was the norm in his previous stops around the league.
"It's preparation, Smtih said, "Coach prepares us for these opportunities, for these moments at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center. Every single day we go over two-minute, a bunch of different situations and scenarios. It helps when you get out there on the field, you're used to it, you know what to do. Guys are calm, they know their assignments, and you saw, it doesn't matter who the quarterback is. Coach prepares us to be in those situations and to make those plays and that's what we're about as Seahawks. We're going to fight to the finish and if the ball is in our hands as an offense, we want to make sure we close it out."
And if you were hoping the tense finishes might go at some point, well, that's probably not happening soon. In fact, as Carroll has noted a few times in the past, he likes games like Sunday's, and see a lot of value in a team having to come through in those types of situations.
"I love close games," Carroll said in 2019. "I think they help you. They make you stronger. They keep you in the game longer. They make you have to focus farther, and it prepares you for more kinds of things that can happen that you need background and experience in. It would really be OK if we could win by a lot sometimes. That'd be fun. (But) this is this season. These seasons write a story and that's kind of the story of what's been going on all year long. We're certainly not trying to let them back into it. That's not the idea. I think it's only going to help us. I think all of the young guys that have been through those games, they're not tensing up. They're not worried about what's going to happen next. Just keep thinking we're going to find a way. That's powerful. It really supports what the experienced guys have been around and how they think. It's just the way it is. I'm sorry for the fans. Like I've said before, you've got to suck it up and enjoy the wins. Sometimes, they just come out later than you want."
Britt from Thousand Oaks, California asks, "Why does the Seahawks pass defense leave opposing receivers so wide open? Week after week, the Seahawks refuse to tighten up their pass defense."
A: I'm not going to argue that the Seahawks have played flawless pass defense all season long, but to say they are leaving receivers wide open week after week is just not factually accurate. For starters, it's very, very difficult to defend modern NFL passing attacks. I don't care how good a defense is, a good offense is going to make some plays throughout a game. And yes, there have been ups and downs this season, and there were some significant breakdowns in coverage in a Week 14 loss to the 49ers that led to big plays, but the Seahawks have also done a lot to clean that up in the past two games.
On Sunday, Ryan Tannehill threw for just 152 yards, and his longest completion of the game went for just 17 yards. Against a very good Eagles offense, the Seahawks allowed just 143 passing yards, intercepted Jalen Hurts twice and didn't give up a passing play longer than 18 yards.
So in back-to-back games, the Seahawks held two experienced quarterbacks to a combined 295 yards, didn't give up a single completion longer than 18 yards, and also held Pro Bowl receivers A.J. Brown (five catches for 56 yards) and DeAndre Hopkins (two catches for 20 yards) in check. I don't care who the opponent is, that's darn good pass defense over a two-game span.
Dave from Battle Ground asks, "Why do we always run on first down?"
A: Again, this is another question where the facts just don't line up with what is being assumed in the question. Yes, the Seahawks were a little run-heavy on first down during Sunday's game, though that shifted in the second half, but over the course of the season they've actually skewed pretty heavy towards throwing on first down.
The Seahawks have run 282 first-down plays this season, throwing 168 times, running 80 and having penalties on 34 of them. That 28.4 percent first-down run rate ranks 25th out of 32 teams.
@rollo_tamasi_ asks, "What's really going on with Coby Bryant and his spot on the depth chart? He was such a positive story last year, it's hard to believe he could have regressed to the extent that his play time has shrunk."
A: I don't think there's any conspiracy here or anything. Bryant is currently playing a big role on special teams and comes onto the field on defense in dime packages, while also serving as a backup safety—he likely would have started had Julian Love not made it to the game awaiting the birth of his child.
The Seahawks still really value Bryant as a player and he has a future with the team, but as of now, he's got a couple of things that make it hard for him to get on the field, including the time he missed with a foot injury this season. More than anything, however, the issue for Bryant is that the Seahawks decided to put Devon Witherspoon into the nickel role, which is where Bryant played last year, and the rookie has thrived in that spot, emerging as one of the NFL's top rookies.
@JimSwain37 asks, "Any internal discussions of the throwbacks becoming the standard uniform?"
A: If there are, I'm not a part of those discussions. The throwbacks do indeed look great, and I've heard plenty of fans, and even a few players, say they'd like to see them become the permanent uniform, but as far as I know that isn't anything that's in the works. I'm not sure how that would work but I'm sure there's an approval process with the league for that to even be an option, so even if the Seahawks wanted to do that—and again, I have no knowledge that they do—it'd probably be a ways off. Also, it's worth noting that, as good as the throwbacks are, the Seahawks' regular uniforms are pretty darn good looking too, and they're what the team wore throughout the most successful era in franchise history, so there would probably be a lot of people who would resist moving on from the look in which the team won its first Super Bowl.
Check out the best sights from the sidelines and the locker room following the Seahawks' 29-26 win over the Cleveland Browns at Lumen Field. Easy to Celebrate photos are presented by Bud Light.