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Seahawks Mailbag: Playoff Chances, Running Back Rotation & More

It’s a short week for the Seahawks, who host the Packers on Thursday Night Football, so let’s just dive right into the questions and not waste any time. As always, thanks to everyone who asked a question this week, and apologies if I couldn’t get to yours this time around.

@angelnek1 asks, “Any chance we make the playoffs?” @Lougheed_E and @SportsVillan also ask about the Seahawks’ playoff chances.

A: At 4-5, the Seahawks definitely need a strong finish to the season to make the playoffs, but reaching the postseason is very much still in play for Seattle. Granted, the NFC West is probably not in play at this point, not with the Rams sitting at 9-1, but of the teams contending for Wild Card spots, no one is running away from the pack. Of the non-division leaders that currently have better records than the Seahawks, Carolina is 6-3, Minnesota is 5-3-1 and Green Bay is 4-4-1, and the Seahawks play all three of those teams in the next four weeks. It certainly won’t be easy, but if the Seahawks can beat those NFC foes, they’d put themselves in great position to finish strong and contend for a Wild Card berth.

And as Seahawks coach Pete Carroll pointed out this week, the 2015 Seahawks started the year 4-5, then won six of their last seven to make the postseason.

Asked if he thought there was still time for this team to accomplish its goals, Carroll said, “I don’t think it, I know it. What happened in 2015? I think we were right about right here and put on a good little run, and I don’t know, I can’t remember in 2015 if we felt as clear about our way of doing it as we do now, so it gives us a great opportunity. But we have to go, we have to take these one week at a time and start piling up some wins. I like our style and I like our style in playoff mode. I’d like to get that opportunity, so we’ve got a lot of ball to play here and there’s a lot of games coming at us. A lot of opportunities at home and I think we should have nothing but the thoughts that we should build on where we are right now and have a chance to keep going and get better. Hopefully, we can stay healthy and give us a chance to play with the same guys.”

@yo_ger asks, “Is there any way to get Pete Carroll to run a wishbone formation with all our running backs lol?”

A: Doubtful, but that sarcastic question brings up a real one that is on a lot of people’s minds following Rashaad Penny’s breakout game in L.A.

@snapslice77’s 10-year-old son asks, via his dad’s twitter, “If all the running backs are healthy, will Penny get more carries? If so who does that take away from?”

A: In 2015, the Seahawks had three different running backs gain 100 yards in a game, but the difference that year was that a Marshawn Lynch injury opened the door for Thomas Rawls, and a Rawls injury opened the door late in the season for Christine Michael. This season, Chris Carson, Mike Davis and now Penny have all had 100-yard games, and with Carson expected back this week, they’ll likely all be healthy and active for Thursday’s game.

So how does a team handle having three productive backs healthy at the same time? The short answer, as Carroll might put it, is “you’ll see.” But to get back to the initial question, it is true that getting Penny more heavily involved would take carries away from someone else. Even for a team that likes to run the ball, there aren’t realistically enough carries to get Carson, Davis and Penny a heavy workload in every game. We’ll have to see how things play out if everyone stays healthy, but my hunch is that coaches will take a week-to-week approach based on matchups and who is playing well in a particular game. In other words, Carroll probably isn’t worried about your fantasy team.

“When everybody’s healthy, not everybody’s going to get the ball a lot,” Carroll said. “That’s just the way it goes, so we’ll figure that out. You’ll see how it comes together. Chris is going to be healthy this week and he’ll be excited to get back out there, too. It’s a good group, it’s a good problem. Not a great problem for the running backs, but it’s good for us and we’ll try to make the most of it.”

@ArabellaZucce1 asks, “Both @nukezzuu and I are new Seahawks fans based in Sydney, Australia. What are the most important things we should know about Seahawks history?”

A: You mean other than the stuff about the Australian punter? I’m assuming you guys have that part down.

There’s a ton to know, and you’ll learn plenty of it over time, but we’ll start with some basics:

The Seahawks began play in 1976, playing in the since-imploded Kingdome (CenturyLink Field sits on the same site). In honor of the Seahawks’ very loud fans, the No. 12 was retired in 1984.

The Seahawks made their first postseason appearance in 1983 under Chuck Knox, and Mike Holmgren led Seattle to its first NFC Championship in 2005. Under Carroll, the Seahawks won their first Super Bowl in 2013, and returned to the Super Bowl the following season. Overall the Seahawks have made the postseason 16 times, including 12 times since Paul Allen bought the team in 1997.

Under Carroll, the Seahawks made the playoffs five straight seasons from 2012-2016, winning 10 or more games each of those seasons. Seattle’s defense gave up the fewest points in the league for four consecutive seasons from 2012-2015, something no other team has done in the Super Bowl era.

Four players who spent their entire careers with the Seahawks are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame: receiver Steve Largent, tackle Walter Jones, defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy and safety Kenny Easley. Those four are also in the team’s Ring of Honor, along with cornerback Dave Brown, defensive end Jacob Green, quarterback Dave Krieg, running back Curt Warner, quarterback Jim Zorn, head coach Chuck Knox and radio play-by-play man Pete Gross.

@kmasterman asks, “What is your favorite Thanksgiving side dish?”

A: Not a huge stuffing fan, so I’d probably go with something potato based, either mashed potatoes or yams. I’m also a fan of cranberry sauce with the turkey. Oh, and does beer count as a side?

@codergirl03 asks, “Does anyone know how many miles Coach Carroll walks on the sideline?”

A: No, but now I’m intrigued. Maybe we can convince him to wear a GPS device to track not just how many miles he piles up, but also his top speed.

@dilletaunt asks, “How did Jordan Simmons do, but what about Ethan Pocic?

A: Simmons, who filled in for D.J. Fluker at right guard, was making his first NFL start, and in his hometown no less, and he played very well. Making Simmons’ debut all the more impressive is that he is a player who, because of injuries at USC, barely played in college.

“He came through and came through against tremendous competition,” Carroll said. We needed him to step in there and play some football. He’s tough and handled his assignments pretty well and had some miscues, but basically did a really good job against a really good guy so that was really good for our depth and exciting for him too. He has not played a lot of football in his career so he was really pumped up about doing it in the (Los Angeles Memorial) Coliseum for himself. It was pretty good.”

As for Pocic, as Carroll explained after the game, the decision to go with Simmons was about having a bigger body to match up with the Rams and Ndamukong Suh, so Simmons starting shouldn’t be read as an indictment of Pocic.

@gnarlyraddad asks, “Should the Seahawks be worried about their pass rush?”

A: The Seahawks have only four sacks in their past two games after recording nine in their previous two victories, so yes, it’s fair to say they’d like to improve in that area. And it’s not a coincidence that a less productive pass rush has coincided with Seattle’s first two games this season without a takeaway, because nothing creates turnovers better than pressure on the quarterback.

Frank Clark has been great this season with 8.0 sacks, and Jarran Reed has provided a nice interior rush with a career-high 5.0 sacks, but for the Seahawks defense to be at its best down the stretch, it would like to get more pressure from other players. Dion Jordan shared a sack with Clark in Sunday’s game, his first of the season, and if he can get going and build off of that, that would be a big help for the defense.

The Seahawks and Packers will meet for the 19th time in the regular season this Sunday in Seattle. Take a look back at photos from past games played between the two teams.

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