The Seahawks are playoff bound for the eighth time in the past 10 years, and will play at Philadelphia Sunday in the wild-card round. But before the practice week kicks off, 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 couldn't get to yours this time around. And as a reminder, questions can be submitted for future mailbags both by tweeting them to me (@johnpboyle) and online at Seahawks.com/SeahawksMailbag.
@Lougheed_E asks, "Besides Russell Wilson, who do you see being the biggest X-factor for us in the playoffs?"
A: I'll go with a few, if that's OK with you.
On offense, I'd point to receiver Tyler Lockett. Quite simply, if the Seahawks can find ways to get Lockett the ball, their offense is better. It's no coincidence that Lockett's decline in production coincided with a bit of a dip in Seattle's offensive numbers. And that's not to say Lockett is the reason for this—he can't be blamed for injuries and illness that slowed him a bit, and teams have found ways to limit his production, either by devoting more coverage to him, or in some games, by generating enough pass rush that Russell Wilson hasn't had time to find his receivers down field. Lockett's best game of late was his 120-yard performance against Carolina, which also happened to be Seattle's best offensive game in recent weeks. And it's also not a coincidence that Lockett was more involved in the second half last week when the offense got on track.
There's a bit of a "chicken or the egg" at play here—is getting the ball to Lockett the key to getting the passing game going, or is Lockett getting the ball the sign that other elements of the offense are clicking? Either way, if Lockett has a big game Sunday, that will probably mean good things for the offense.
On defense, I'll point to two players who have been dealing with injuries, but who can be big difference makers when they're healthy: defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and safety Quandre Diggs.
Diggs has missed the past two games, but Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said there's a good chance Diggs is back, and the defense has just looked better with Diggs on the field, in no small part due to the four turnovers he has been a part of in his five games as a Seahawk—three interceptions and a forced fumble that he also recovered.
Clowney, meanwhile, returned last week after a two game absence, and if he can get back to something close to the dominant level he played at immediately before the injury, that could make all the difference for Seattle's defense.
@kmasterman asks, "Please tell me you're going to get a Philly cheesesteak this weekend, John."
A: You mean "going to get another cheesesteak," yes? Because I definitely enjoyed one from Sonny's, at the recommendation of a local, when the Seahawks played in Philadelphia in Week 12. It was delicious and the perfect way to fill up before standing in line to see the Liberty Bell. This was after I went for a jog and ran up the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, AKA, the Rocky Steps. Yes, I went full tourist last time.
But yes, I will very likely be having another cheesesteak this weekend (when in Rome, right?). The question now is where. Hit me up on twitter if you have any last-minute suggestions.
Goff Bugg from Idaho asks, "Will Chris Carson play next season?"
A: There's no reason to think that Carson won't be a big part of Seattle's offense next season. Carroll said Carson has a hip fracture similar to the injury that Lano Hill sustained in Week 17 of the 2018 season, and while Hill did open training camp on the physically unable to perform list, he was on the field for the regular-season opener. Not all players recover from similar injuries at the exact same rate, so it's not fair to assume Carson will be on that same timeline, but Carroll has given no indication when asked about Carson on a couple of occasions that this injury has long-term ramifications beyond this season and of course the rehab Carson is going to have to do to get back.
@nakesha_horsey asks, "Will Marshawn Lynch come back next season?" @wenfot also asks if Lynch will be back in 2020.
A: As Carroll joked in a press conference when asked this very question, "Do you know what Marshawn wants? I don't."
Few people know for sure what Lynch is thinking beyond this playoff run, and as he has shown stepping away from the game twice, only to return, he can be unpredictable. So I'd file this one under "never say never," but my gut would be that he's looking to go out with one final successful playoff run and call it a career.
Again, that's just a guess, but Lynch will be 34 next season, and has shown in previous "retirements" that he has plenty of interests outside of football to keep him busy, including his Beast Mode clothing line and the work he does in the community in his hometown of Oakland.
@Jaimie2215 asks, "What happened with the delay of game?"
A: The short answer is that the Seahawks were trying to substitute personnel, and it didn't go well.
Facing fourth-and-10 prior to the penalty, the Seahawks were in an empty-backfield look, but after converting to the 1-yard line, then spiking the ball to stop the clock, they wanted to get a heavier package on the field, one that included Lynch. Unfortunately that process didn't happen cleanly, which Carroll says is ultimately his fault, and with no time outs, the Seahawks took a penalty.
"We were in 'no backs' the play before, and we called the personnel and we just didn't quite get it communicated with the backs," Carroll said. "We were just late. We were late getting in there. We burned the time. We just didn't get it done. We just didn't function cleanly. When you kill the clock, sometimes you kind of relax like that's a time out. We didn't on the sidelines, but it just kind of felt like that's what happened, and we didn't get the substitution done properly and we were late with it, and there wasn't enough time for us to get the play off… We just didn't function well enough. That's me all the way. There's nobody else to turn to. We need to get that done. The mentality of the kill the clock thing, sometimes it happens; we've talked about it numbers of times, but you kind of take a pause like it's a time out, which it wasn't. That may have been a little bit of what happened on the sidelines with the guys running on. Here we are with Marshawn, his first week and all that. It just didn't work out right. I should have got that done better."
Anita DeVilliers from Stayton, Oregon asked, "How do I get tickets to watch training camp in the summer?"
A: The Seahawks usually announce registration for open training camp practices in June, so keep an eye on the team's website and/or social media channels later in the spring/early summer for the details.
Game action photos from the Seattle Seahawks' Week 17 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.