Week 1 of the NFL season is finally here, and the Seahawks had a very busy weekend leading up to their season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, one that included setting an initial 53-man roster and acquiring Jadeveon Clowney in a trade. With that in mind, 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 didn’t get to yours this time around. And remember, you can now ask questions and also sign up to have the weekly mailbag delivered to your inbox at Seahawks.com/SeahawksMailbag.
@TerryTaylor121 asks, “How does adding Jadeveon Clowney change overall season expectations?”
A: For starters, expectations for this team were already high. The Seahawks really like the mix of veteran leadership and young talent on the roster, and feel good about the way they finished last season winning six of seven to make the postseason.
“We have a really good foundation,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said last week, prior to the addition to Clowney. “I think we’re going to have a really good team, and I don’t care about saying that. I don’t think there’s any question in my mind that we’re going to play really good football and we’re going to be hard to beat, particularly if we can continue to run the ball. We’ve got the right guys.”
So on one hand, it’s hard to say that expectations change much, at least internally, because this team already expected to be very good. That being said, adding an elite defensive end provides a boost to any defense, so it’s reasonable to expect that the Seahawks will be a better team on that side of the ball, particularly when you're talking about pairing Clowney with another elite pass-rusher like Ziggy Ansah.
After all, as Carroll said, Clowney is “a rare football player. He’s got special skills that most guys just don’t have. It’s great quickness, his reaction time, the length that he can use, his ability to run, his instincts. He has made a lot of plays in the backfield over the years, instinctive plays, penetrating and causing problems, and we plan to allow him to do that in our scheme. It’ll fit really well with what we’re doing. We see a great fit, whether it’s early downs or third-down stuff. He’s pretty much got what you’re looking for.”
@fantasyfbdriven asks, “Does Seattle’s defensive scheme lend itself to Jadeveon Clowney’s abilities?”
A: Yes, but more importantly, I’d argue that Clowney’s abilities lend themselves to pretty much any scheme. He’s so physically gifted that he should be able to thrive in just about any scheme. Clowney mentioned on Monday that he likes the idea of being back in a 4-3 defense like he played in in college, but that doesn’t mean the Seahawks will simply line him up at one end spot every play and not get creative with him. Carroll likes finding ways to maximize players’ unique skillsets, whether it was turning defensive tackle Red Bryant into a run-stuffing end, or utilizing Michael Bennett’s versatility to play all over the defensive line, or converting Tre Flowers from safety to cornerback, or turning George Fant into an oversized tight end. So if there are ways to maximize Clowney’s talents by moving him around to different spots, expect to see some of that, particularly as the season goes along and he gets more comfortable in Seattle’s offense.
Leighton Sillitoe from Houston asks, “Will Jadeveon Clowney be a one-year rental?”
A: Maybe, but if he’s really productive and helps the Seahawks win games, isn’t that still worth it for what it cost to acquire him, particularly knowing that Clowney leaving would likely net a good compensatory pick in 2021? Because Clowney is on the franchise tag and the deadline for franchised players to negotiate extensions has passed, he and the Seahawks can’t work on a potential new deal until after the season. Clowney and Carroll both said Monday that their focus is on the now and not on what will happen after the season, but knowing that he came to the Seahawks in part because of the culture that has been built here, word of which was relayed to him by former Texans teammate Duane Brown, it’s definitely reasonable to think a long-term deal could be worked out after the season if things go well this year.
Andrew Thaxton from Fayetteville, Arkansas asks, “Has there been any further clarity shed on David Moore’s injury? Will he slide right back in with the starters once he is cleared?”
A: Moore has a non-displaced fracture in his humerus bone, and while a specific timeline has not been given, Carroll has said on a couple of occasions that Moore will be out into the regular season. On Monday, Carroll said, “Nothing is going to change for a while. He had a crack in his shoulder, so he’s just got to wait it out. He feels pretty darn good. That’s the problem with it, it’s not hindering him in any way, there’s no displacement, so he’s going to feel like he’s ready to play in a week or so, but he won’t be able to for a while. We’ve got to wait it out.”
As for his role, that likely depends on how Jaron Brown and DK Metcalf perform until Moore returns. Prior to his injury, Moore was regularly one of Seattle’s top three receivers along with Tyler Lockett and Brown, but if Metcalf plays really well out of the gate, Moore might have to battle his way back into that top three by competing with Metcalf or Brown.
Vince Jacobo from San Diego asks, “Any clarification on the running back share of touches between Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and the field? Does Penny look to have progressed over the last year?”
A: To answer the second question first, yes, Penny definitely looks to have progressed. He is in better shape and looks quicker, and with a year under his belt he also has a better grasp of the offense and the other nuances of the position such as pass protection.
But Chris Carson also looks like he’s better than ever, and he will be tough to unseat from the starting job. I do think we’ll see more out of Penny this year, but the question is whether that will come at the expense of touches that Carson got a year ago, or in the form of touches that a year ago went to other backs—last year Mike Davis had the second most carries behind Carson. My hunch would be the latter, but Carroll and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer won’t be afraid to go with the hot hand either, so there could be games where the balance shifts in Penny’s favor.
In other words, and I really hate to tell you this Vince, but Carroll and Schottenheimer probably don’t care much about your fantasy team.
@TheCrappyTotals asks, “Still can’t believe they released Austin Calitro. Any chance he is re-signed?” @chuck024 also asked about waiving Calitro. And on a somewhat related note, @Davehill777 asks, “Do you think the Seahawks will bring back DeShawn Shead?"
A: I’m rolling these two questions together because there are players released at this time every year who are surprise cuts and/or who are fan favorites that everyone hates to see go.
“It’s hard and they know it,” Carroll said. “They know it’s just business and there’s some difficult decisions and they know it can happen and all that. It doesn’t change the way it hurts, particularly when they really want to be part of it. We want them to be part of it too. We needed 60 something guys and we couldn’t do it. The rules won’t let you.”
In the case of Calitro, the Seahawks were really deep at linebacker, and when it came to deciding between players behind starters Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks, one thing to consider is depth at specific positions. In addition to being a standout special teams player, Shaquem Griffin was no doubt helped by the switch he made this year to playing strongside linebacker. With Barkevious Mingo being part of the trade to Houston for Clowney, Griffin’s ability to play that position becomes even more important. As good as Calitro was in the preseason, the Seahawks also have Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven as middle and weakside options.
“It’s just numbers and we just couldn’t hold onto him,” Carroll said. “We wanted to, we love him, we love the way he played. He had a fantastic preseason for us. That was a real hard one. He’s done everything we ask of a guy. He’s a good ball player, he’s a great team guy… We’re going to miss having him.”
As for brining him back, that possibility went away, for now at least, when Calitro was claimed off of waivers by Jacksonville on Tuesday.
Shead, meanwhile, is a player who was just caught up in a very deep secondary competition.
Asked if Shead could be back, Carroll said, “There’s always a chance. He is a fantastic team member and I hated not being able to keep DeShawn around. He’s such a great competitor and versatility and playmaking and all that. We just couldn’t get it done. The chance of him coming back is, we would love to have him back if the opportunity arises.”
@Elsaucy asks, “Which rookie do you think steps up the most this season?”
A: The Seahawks currently have 10 rookies on their roster, including nine of 11 draft picks—the other two, Phil Haynes and Demarcus Christmas, are on the physically unable to perform list—so there are plenty of options for this one.
As it stands now I’d go with DK Metcalf because he has the clearest path to immediate playing time, particularly in light of Moore’s injury. First-round pick L.J. Collier also figures to have a significant role in the defensive line rotation, but he missed most of camp with an ankle injury so he might need some time to get up to speed.
@SeanHQuinn ask, “Which undrafted free agents are still on the roster?”
A: From this year’s class, only defensive tackle Bryan Mone made the 53-man roster, while receivers Terry Wright and Jazz Ferguson stuck around on the practice squad.
Overall, the Seahawks have 11 players who came into the league as undrafted rookies on their 53-man roster, though not all of those players began their careers with Seattle.
Photos from Monday's Seahawks practice at Virginia Mason Athletic Center in preparation for Sunday's regular season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals.