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Seahawks Mailbag, Part II: Defensive Philosophy, Rookie Receivers, Sleeping In Socks & More

Happy Friday everybody. This week’s mailbag included so many good questions that we decided to break this thing up into a two-parter. If you missed Part I on Thursday, which includes a fun fictitious football team made up of TV and movie characters, you can find it here. As always, thanks to everyone who asked a question this week, and apologies if I wasn’t able to get to yours this time around.  

@EddieSEA3 asks, “With uncertainty on the D-line and a good, dynamic linebacker group, should Seattle change its favoritism of the Cover-3?”

A: This is an interesting question because, yes, the Seahawks are a little different in terms of defensive personnel, strengths and weaknesses, etc. Pete Carroll has been coaching a similar style of defense for a long time and believes very strongly in his defensive principles, so I don’t see any drastic changes coming this season. That being said, Carroll has shown the willingness to be flexible when necessary, and I could definitely see the Seahawks making tweaks from week to week or from game to game in order to best maximize their talent. For example, the Seahawks used more dime (six defensive backs) looks last season than they have in the past, occasionally going with seven DBs, a look he also used in 2010 with the “Bandit” package that team added midway through the season. And after adding Bradley McDougald in 2017, the Seahawks started using more three-safety packages, or big nickel, if you will, to get him on the field with Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. Depending on how things develop at safety, it wouldn’t shock me to see more of that this year. And the Seahawks did use some Cover 2 last year and in past years, so it’s entirely possible we’ll see some of that this year. One problem Carroll will always have with Cover 2, however, is that it can leave gaps in the middle of the field, leading to deep passes over the top, something Carroll loathes.

Whatever schemes Carroll and defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. deploy in 2019, a couple of things will be of utmost importance, as always: stopping the run, preventing explosive plays and creating turnovers. If accomplishing those goals requires a few tweaks in certain situations, then yes, I could see the Seahawks changing things up a bit, but again, I wouldn’t expect a drastic shift in philosophy.

@12thManOregon asks, “Who does DK Metcalf remind you of? Is he going to be a game-changer?”

A: One of the reasons the Seahawks picked DK Metcalf in the second round is that he in some ways doesn’t really remind you of anyone. He’s that unique in terms of his combination of size and speed.

As Carroll put it last month, “There’s never been a guy that ran any faster that was that big and strong at the combine.”

It’s a little too soon to compare Metcalf to established players, but he certainly has the physical tools to become a very good receiver who, like other big-bodied speedsters, can both stretch the field for big plays and also make contested catches in the red zone.

As for the question of him being a game-changer, it’s worth remembering that receiver can be a tough position to make the transition from college to the NFL, so it’s worth keeping expectations in check no matter how good he looks in training camp and the preseason. That being said, the way teammates and coaches have praised his work ethic, combined with the physical tools, it’s fair to expect Metcalf to compete for a significant role right away.

And speaking of rookie receivers…

@AIDEN_ROGERS asks, “How’s John Ursua looking? Could he be a starter in the slot?”

A: In a word, quick. Ursua, a seventh-round pick from Hawaii, came on strong late in offseason workouts, including last week’s minicamp, showing the speed and change-of-direction ability that helped him put up huge numbers in college.

“As we closed out this time, we were able to get a good look at John Ursua,” Carroll said at the end of minicamp. “He started to feel comfortable and show us the kind of quicks and change-of-direction stuff that made him one of the big scorers in college football last year. You can see it, he’s got a real style to him. He’s a slot guy, he really is that mold.

As for Ursua’s chances of winning the slot role, that will depend somewhat on how the Seahawks want to use Tyler Lockett. Lockett has shown the ability to play in the slot and outside throughout his career, but the presence of Doug Baldwin meant Lockett spent more time outside. If the Seahawks think their best combination of receivers means putting Lockett in the slot, then that will make things tougher for players like Ursua to earn playing time, but if Lockett is used more outside, then players like Keenan Reynolds and Ursua would have a real shot to earn the slot role.

@StormsseN asks, “Did we acquire the needed tools to win the division?”

A: Can I answer this in January? No, you want an answer now?

Well then, I’ll have to say that I’m not sure, but I think it’s a real possibility. The Seahawks made the playoffs last year, winning 10 games in a season many on the outside thought was a rebuilding year, and considering how well they finished the season, they’ll come into this year with confidence. The loss of Baldwin hurts the offense, but if other receivers can step up to fill the void, the offense has a chance to be very, very good considering the strength of the running game and the growth shown by the offensive line, which returns four starters. Oh, and having Russell Wilson helps too. On defense, a young secondary should only get better, the linebacker corps is incredibly talented and deep, and if Ziggy Ansah can help mitigate the loss of Frank Clark, then the defensive line has a chance to be better than people might expect given the potential for growth from a lot of young players.

It’s also worth remembering how close the Seahawks played the Rams in both of those losses, games that ultimately helped deciding the division title. If the Seahawks can find a way to turn one or both of those into wins this year, they’ll have a really good chance to take back the NFC West, though it figures to be a very tough division from top to bottom, so Seattle will have to worry about more than just Los Angeles in order to win the division.

@meredithrayy, our team’s talented digital & social content specialist, asks, “Can you explain why you think that people who wear socks to bed are sociopaths?

A: A little background here, there’s a longstanding debate in our department between a couple people who sleep with socks on and, well, all the rest of us who correctly think that that behavior is weird. The debate was recently renewed when it came to light that Lockett is also a sock-sleeper. To help settle the debate, I created a twitter poll in which I might have implied that sock-sleepers are possible sociopaths. That was probably a slight exaggeration, for which I apologize, but I still think it’s weird. Feet need time to breathe. And for the record, the Twitter public agrees with me:

With the support of the entire 2019 Seahawks rookie class, wide receiver DK Metcalf threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Mariners took on the Orioles.

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