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Seahawks Mailbag: Nickel As Base, Fixing The Run D, RIP Wolf Grey & More

You had Seahawks questions; we have answers.


The Seahawks are now a week into training camp, with players enjoying a well-earned day off Wednesday following back-to-back padded practices that upped the intensity level of camp. With a break in the action, now is a great time to open up the mailbag and answer some questions from you, the fans. As always, thanks to everyone who asked questions this week, and apologies if I wasn't able to get to yours this time around. And don't forget, in addition to replying on twitter, you can also submit mailbag questions at any time online at

4thDown_GoForIt asks, "Will the Seahawks' base defense be nickel?"

A: Yes and no. If you're asking, will the Seahawks play more nickel than traditional base, then yeah, they almost certainly will, just as they and every other NFL team usually has in recent years. But will they actually call a five-DB package their "base" defense as opposed to sticking with that term for their three-lineman, four-linebacker, four-defensive back defense? Maybe not.

Either way, however, I'd expect we'll see a lot of nickel, be it with three safeties or three corners on the field, or even dime (six defensive backs), especially given the talent and depth the Seahawks have in their secondary. And one other factor in this discussion when it comes to nickel and dime is the ability of Jamal Adams and Julian Love to play in the box like a linebacker. As we saw last season leading up to the opener and in that Week 1 game prior to his injury, the Seahawks were playing packages that looked like base or nickel depending on how players were lined up (Adams was essentially taking the place of an off-ball linebacker), but would be considered nickel or dime based off the number of cornerbacks and safeties on the field. So yeah, it can all be a little murky when we're trying to define what to call different packages.

On a somewhat related note…

@saket1229 asks, "How do you foresee the progression of Devon Witherspoon and the rest of the DB room?"

A: Witherspoon, the No. 5 overall pick, had a great day in practice on Tuesday and should continue to grow as he settles in at his first rookie camp, and overall the play of the defensive backs as a unit has been one of the early highlights of camp. The big question now is what that secondary looks like come Week 1.

After Witherspoon was drafted, a lot of people figured he and Riq Woolen would be the starting outside cornerbacks, and while that could still end up being the case, Michael Jackson, last year's starting left cornerback, has had a great offseason and training camp and is looking like he'll be very difficult to unseat. Tre Brown, a starter as a rookie before tearing his patellar tendon, has also looked very good with the No. 1 defense with Woolen sidelined, so he too could be a factor. Perhaps because of this depth, and perhaps because his unique playmaking ability and physicality could be particularly effective inside, Witherspoon has been getting a lot of work at nickel corner, the position held by Coby Bryant last year. So while Woolen seems pretty set at right cornerback—Pete Carroll has said he prefers to keep Woolen there—just about everything else seems up for grabs with Jackson and Brown both able to play both sides, and with Witherspoon and Bryant able to play inside and out, with Bryant also getting a little work at safety during this camp.

I'm not going to pretend to know how this will all play out, but I do know it's a very interesting position group to watch throughout the preseason and training camp.

@Meyonic4 asks, "Will Bobby Wagner's presence fix the run defense?"

A: When a team is struggling to stop the run, as the Seahawks did last season, there is almost always more than one reason behind it, so it's not really fair to expect one player to come in and fix everything on his own.

That being said, if you were looking for one player and position who could make a big difference, a middle linebacker like Wagner is a great place to start. First and foremost, Wagner is a great run defender, both because of his physical skills and the way he sees the game, so there are plays he will make throughout a season that others wouldn't. Secondly, as the middle linebacker, Wagner is the one doing a lot of communicating with the defense, so someone with his football IQ and overall leadership skills should help players be on the same page play in and play out. The hope is that several of the additions Seattle made this season, including Wagner, Dre'Mont Jones, Jarran Reed, Mario Edwards Jr. and others, will make a difference, and the coaches also know it's on them to help players get the job done. But yes, ultimately having Wagner back to call the shots in the middle of the defense should help.

"It's big because you have a calming influence," defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt said. "Jordyn (Brooks) did it last year, obviously, Cody (Barton) had experience with that last year and they did great for what they had to do. But it's different, you're talking about a Hall of Fame player. Obviously, he has a calming influence and voice. So, when he says something in the huddle everything comes down, so it's been great having him."

@SeattleViewHome asks, "Based on camp so far, will Uchenna Nwosu and Boye Mafe start at outside linebacker?"

A: I think the starting outside linebacker roles could vary a bit depending on defensive game plan/opponent. Nwosu is a safe bet to start no matter what, but if the Seahawks are facing a more run-heavy team, it would make sense to start Mafe there, while Darrell Taylor, who has been doing a lot of the work with the No. 1 defense in camp, would be the natural fit as a pass-rusher if that were the focus. Either way, the Seahawks want to have a deep rotation at that spot to keep players fresh, so those three, as well as rookie Derick Hall, should all play a lot regardless of who happens to be on the field for the first play of the game.

Megan Gaukroger from Inverell, New South Wales, Australia asks, "OK, I need an argument settled once and for all. One of my dear friends, who is a proud 12, is a huge fan of Dave Krieg, and I am a diehard Jim Zorn fan. We have spent two years arguing over which one is the best and why?"

A: First off, congrats on winning this week's person-who-submitted-a-question-from-the-farthest-away award… there is no prize.

Anyway, I hate to tell you this, but I don't think I'm going to do a very good job breaking your tie. Both players had great Seahawks careers—hence both being in the Ring of Honor—and it's very hard to definitely say one was a better Seahawks QB than the other. Krieg's overall numbers are better, and he was a three-time Pro Bowler who took over the starting job from Zorn just as the Seahawks became a playoff team in the early 1980s. Then again, there's something to be said for being the original, as Zorn was in Seattle, and he also put up impressive numbers, and was named second-team All-Pro once, finished third in MVP voting in 1978, and was in the Top 4 in AP Offensive Player of the Year voting twice.

So yeah, I'm not settling that debate, you two can keep arguing about it.

Jojo Reantaso from Hampton, Virginia asks, "Which former Seahawk would you want to see return to be a 12 Flag raiser?

A: Excluding former players who have already done it, I think the answer would have to be Marshawn Lynch, right? And just to keep it interesting, maybe have him mic'd up with the sound being broadcast live in the stadium as he does it.

@DanCohen17 asks, "With throwbacks resulting in the removal of Wolf Grey, do you agree with the decision? If so, why? If not, why not and what would you have removed instead?"

A: NFL teams are allowed a total of four jerseys, so as Dan notes, the addition of the throwback this year meant having to get rid of something. The Seahawks obviously weren't going to get rid of their usual home blue or road white, so the choice then came down to Wolf Grey or Action Green. Interestingly, there was anything but an obvious consensus in the building, with everyone from players to upper management to coaches being pretty evenly split. Ultimately Action Green, one of the more unique uniforms in the entire NFL, won out. The Seahawks can, however, still use the grey pants so the blue or white on grey combination is still an option.

If you're asking my personal opinion, I liked the look of grey jersey over blue pants, but I can also see the point that the green is more unique. And as an added bonus, fans in Action Green jerseys really stand out at road games. The good news is the team has won a lot of games in both, so they couldn't really go wrong from that standpoint.

@LemonMeteor asks, "What do you think of the Seahawks' new long snapper?"

The Seahawks have an undrafted rookie, Chris Stoll, as the only long snapper on their roster right now, so the job is his to lose. And the best thing I can say about his camp so far is that I have not noticed him at all, which for that position is a very good thing, as people tend to only notice the long snapper when he's messing up.

@michaelpherman asks, "How many players in camp recall watching the team in throwback uniforms?"

A: The Seahawks last wore their royal blue and green uniforms with silver helmets in 2001, which means plenty of players on the roster were way too young to remember them, or in the case of Jaxon Smith-Njigba, weren't even born yet. Some of the older players on the roster like Nick Bellore, Bobby Wagner and Geno Smith are old enough to remember those uniforms, though that's only if they were paying attention to the NFL during their grade school years.

More important than remembering them, however, is the fact that the current players absolutely love the throwbacks now that they've seen them, and in some cases, had a chance to model them. Though if you really want to feel old, consider that Smith-Njigba had no idea what a Walkman was when he encountered one on the set of the video shoot to reveal the throwbacks.

Seahawks players brought the intensity for practice on Tuesday, August 1, 2023 at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center.

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