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Seahawks Mailbag: Playoff Scenarios, Team MVP & More

You had Seahawks questions; we have answers.


The Seahawks head into Week 18 of the season looking to earn their 11th playoff berth in 14 seasons under Pete Carroll and John Schneider, and to do so they'll need to beat the Cardinals in Glendale, then get a little help from the Chicago Bears, who face a Packers team that is ahead of Seattle for the final Wild Card berth. But before we turn our attention this weekend's games, it's time once again 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 remember, the mailbag is always open for submissions at

@enzo_sco asks, "Do you see the Bears beating the Packers for us, and do you think we can beat the second seed?"

A: To catch up anyone unfamiliar with the scenarios for the Seahawks to make the postseason, there are a few unlikely ones involving ties, but what is by far the most realistic hope for Seattle is to beat the Cardinals in Arizona while the Packers lose to the Bears at Lambeau Field.

On the surface, needing the Packers to lose a win-and-in home game to a division foe with a losing record might sound like a dire situation, but the Seahawks can cling to some hope for a couple of reasons. Most notably, the Seahawks were in a very similar situation last year, needing to win in Week 18 then get a Packers home loss in a win-and-in game. And after the Seahawks beat the Rams at home, the Lions, who were eliminated from playoff contention by Seattle's win, went ahead and beat the Packers on the road while playing for nothing more than pride and a chance to ruin a division rival's playoff hopes. The other thing to consider is that, while the Bears are 7-9, they have been playing very well of late, winning four of their last five and five of their last seven, with the last three wins all coming by double-digit margins.

As for talk of beating a No. 2 seed, we're obviously getting ahead of ourselves, but based off what we've seen in the NFL overall, and from the Seahawks in particular, I absolutely think they'd have a shot in a road Wild Card game if they can get there.

The Cowboys are currently in the No. 2 position and will host the seventh seed if they beat Washington on Sunday. Should the Cowboys lose, the Eagles would win the division and be the No. 2 seed with a win over the Giants, or if both lose, Detroit could get the No. 2 seed with a win over the Vikings. So should the Seahawks win and get the help they need Sunday, they would head to Dallas, Philadelphia or Detroit. That's two teams the Seahawks beat this season, winning in Detroit early in the season and beating the Eagles at home in Week 15, and a team the Seahawks went toe-to-toe with in Dallas for four quarters before ultimately falling just short.

For most of this season, the 49ers and Ravens have looked like the clear-cut top teams in their conferences, and it's no surprise both have earned No. 1 seeds and first-round byes already. Just about every Wild Card matchup, however, feels pretty wide open.

@MrEd315 asks, "Who's your choice for Seahawks team MVP?"

A: League MVP honors pretty much go to quarterbacks every year for a reason—no position in football, and arguably in team sports, has a bigger impact on a team's success. Starting pitchers in baseball, perhaps, but they're only playing every fifth game.

And keeping that in mind, my vote would be Geno Smith, not just because of the position he plays, but because he's done a pretty darn good job despite a lot injuries to his offensive line, and while also playing through plenty of injuries of his own.

Yes, Smith's numbers are down a bit from last season, but he's still done a lot of things very well this season, most notably leading four game-winning drives either at the end of regulation or in overtime, throwing game-winning touchdown passes in three of them.

There are plenty of other players having great seasons who would be worthy of consideration, including Bobby Wagner, Jarran Reed, DK Metcalf and Devon Witherspoon, but again, quarterbacks have such a big influence on results, and Smith has helped the Seahawks win a lot of close games this season.

@xlion81 asks, "Why is the tackling so bad?"

A: Missed tackles were indeed a problem—maybe the biggest problem—in Sunday's loss to the Steelers, as Pittsburgh was able to gain 468 yards, including 202 on the ground.

"We weren't right on defense, in the running game again, so it's been repetitive. I see it," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said after the game. "We played better in the second half, got 40 something yards in the second half but in the first half they had their way with it… The tackling just seemed like it was really off. Seemed like we just did not make the tackles that we had to, didn't knock the piles back like we'd like to. I really want to see the film and see where it was happening to guys other than scheme and make sure that I understand that issue well. Tackling wasn't good enough and we weren't efficient enough. We had shots. We had shots in the line of scrimmage, we had opportunities, and they won the battles better than we did."

First, it's worth giving some credit to Steelers running backs Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren, who are both tough to tackle, especially the 242-pound Harris. But regardless of the opponent, the Seahawks expect to be better, and at times this season they have been. Even in the last two games as the Eagles and Titans had some success on the ground, they weren't getting the explosive plays that were a problem against Pittsburgh. As defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt explained last week, it's generally considered a good performance to have single-digit missed tackles in a game, and the Seahawks did that against the Eagles and Titans with seven and six in those games, respectively. I don't know the number coaches will come up with by their standard for Sunday's game, but it's safe to assume it will be quite a bit higher than the last two games.

So what is there to do at this point of the season? Carroll was asked that after Sunday's game, saying, "There's all kinds of fundamental stuff. It's about wrapping up, bringing your feet, and doing those things. It can't be more obvious from watching the film. So the principles that we stand for and teach and all that, we're going to come back to them again and see if we can pull it together."

Imelda from Suffolk, Virginia asks, "Is it puzzling that a defense that struggles against the run and on third down is leading the NFC in sacks?"

A: On one hand, yes, it's a bit puzzling to be piling up sacks while struggling on third down and against the run. In theory teams that run well shouldn't be in as many obvious passing situations such as third-and-long that leave you most vulnerable to sacks, and defenses that are getting sacks ought to get off the field more on third down, right?

On the other hand, there can be cases where a team is just better suited to get after the quarterback from a personnel or scheme standpoint than to stop the run. Plus, defenses that struggle on third down end up staying on the field for more plays, which, from a sheer volume standpoint, creates more plays to record sacks.

Whatever the reason, as this question notes, the Seahawks are tied with San Francisco for the NFC lead with 46 sacks, yet at the same time they're 30th in run defense, allowing 134.1 yards per game, and 25th in opponent yards-per-carry average at 4.5. And on third-down, the Seahawks are 31st, allowing conversions on 46.8 percent of third downs. To me, more than anything, those disparities speak to inconsistency more than just bad play. The Seahawks have had some very good stretches on defense this year, both against the run and on third down, and their sacks have come in bunches as well. Yet in other games, there have been some clunkers, and the end result are some not-so-pretty stats when it comes to run defense and third-down defense.

@swooshdave asks, "My assumption is that they are just stashing Kenny McIntosh, or is there some other reason he hasn't played?"

A: I've gotten a few questions of late about McIntosh's lack of playing time—he was a healthy scratch again on Sunday. I don't get the impression the rookie running back is being stashed or anything, I think it's just a case of him missing time early, not having a big special teams role, and being behind Kenneth Walker III and Zach Charbonnet on the depth chart. McIntosh was an exciting player in camp and I still think he could have a bright future with the team, but it's hard for a rookie who missed a large chunk of the season to catch back up, and with two running backs ahead of him, he was going to have to earn a bigger special teams role to find a gameday role when active roster spots are tight.

Another big factor to me is the Seahawks inability to consistently get their running game going, something Carroll has lamented a few times throughout the season. If the Seahawks were converting more third downs, staying on the field more and running the ball more often, their might be more carries for a back other than Walker and Charbonnet, but for now those two are getting all the offensive touches at that position. DeeJay Dallas, meanwhile, is a big part of what the Seahawks do on special teams so he is ahead of McIntosh there when it comes to total spots available on gameday.

Mohamad from Corvallis, Oregon asks, "Will we draft a quarterback this year?"

A: Maybe? I don't know. It's really hard to predict what the Seahawks will do in the draft.

I can see where drafting one might make sense, and that has nothing to do with my opinion of Geno Smith, who I think is a very good quarterback who could be even better if the Seahawks clean up a few issues around him, including the aforementioned inconsistent running game.

And thinking of the future is always important in the NFL, which is why we saw the Seahawks, who had the No. 5 pick last year, digging into all the top quarterbacks—as it turned out, three of them went before Seattle picked anyway. Plus, Drew Lock re-signed this offseason on a one-year deal, so even if you have a high opinion of Smith, which I do, the Seahawks either need to re-sign Lock this season or draft or sign a backup for next year.

As John Schneider has noted repeatedly, his experience in Green Bay taught him the value of drafting quarterbacks regularly even with an established starter already in place—that's how the Packers ended up developing some valuable trade pieces, including Matt Hasselbeck—and how they also found Brett Favre's replacement by drafting Aaron Rodgers while Favre was still in his prime. But while Schneider has said that a ton, the fact remains that, for a myriad of reasons, the Seahawks have drafted just one quarterback since taking Russell Wilson in 2012, Alex McGough in the seventh round of the 2018 draft. It's not that the Seahawks haven't looked at quarterbacks in every draft, it's just that, in their view, the players available at the times they were picking weren't the best use of that pick. Will that change in 2024? Who knows?

The Seahawks and Cardinals face off on Sunday, Jan 7, 2024. Kickoff is set for 1:25 p.m. Take a look back through history at the Seahawks' matchups against the Cardinals.

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