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Seahawks Mailbag: Reasons For Hope, Defensive Improvements, Cheese & More

You had Seahawks questions; we have answers. 


Happy Tuesday, everybody. 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 we couldn't get to your this time around.

Robert Richards from Coos Bay asks, "Do you think the Seahawks might sit Russell Wilson for the rest of the year? If it takes six weeks for his finger to fully heal and the Hawks are 4-8, might he risk the type of injuries that happen to players who aren't in shape to play?"

A: A few things to address in this one, but no, I absolutely cannot see a scenario in which the Seahawks rest a healthy Wilson, who is way too competitive to ever want to miss a snap, let alone a game in which he could play. First off, we don't know Wilson will miss six games—he's eligible to return from IR as soon as Week 10—and even if he did and, in your scenario, the Seahawks were 4-8 by the time he's back, he and the team would no doubt be looking at the final five games as a chance to get on a winning streak and perhaps sneak into the playoffs in an NFC field, that for now at least, looks pretty wide open when it comes to the final Wild Card spot or two. And in terms of the fear of another injury because he's not in football shape, Wilson is doing everything he can to prepare as if he's still playing, and while a finger injury keeps him from throwing, he can still run, lift weights and do just about anything else he would be doing without the injury, so he should be in great shape when he's back.

@Wittkinator asks, "When was the last time the Seahawks were 2-5 and how did the season end? Kind regards from Berlin!"

A: Das letzte Mal war im Jahr 2011… OK, I'll stop trying to speak German before I mess it all up. High school was a long time ago. But anyway, the Seahawks last had a 2-5 record in 2011, Pete Carroll's second season in Seattle. The Seahawks lost their next game to fall to 2-6, then got rolling, winning five of their next six before losing their last two to finish 7-9. That team didn't make the playoffs, but players credited that second half with setting the tone for the success the team had in 2012 and beyond. Obviously this year's team has playoff expectations, even after this start, and if Russell Wilson can get back soon, there are still plenty of games left to get back into the playoff race.

Which brings us to…

@pacis_simon asks, "Is the season salvageable or is that a pipe dream?" And @GeneticAlpha asks, "Even with Russell Wilson coming back, we still have to face the Packers, the Rams once and the Cardinals twice. Is the season essentially over for the Seahawks? Wouldn't they have to win out to have a shot at a wild card spot?"

A: At 2-5, the Seahawks definitely have their work cut out for them if they're going to make the playoffs for the 10th time in 12 seasons under Carroll and John Schneider, but getting there is hardly a pipe dream, and no, they almost definitely don't need to win out to get a wild card spot.

Catching the 7-0 Cardinals—or if they were to end up overtaking Arizona for the division lead, the 6-1 Rams—is going to be really, really challenging at this point, but with the NFL adding a third wild card team last year, getting one of those three spots is still a very realistic goal. For now at least, the NFC is very top heavy, with Arizona unbeaten, and with Dallas, Green Bay and Tampa Bay all leading their respective divisions with 6-1 or 5-1 records. If you were to assume that those teams are all to make the playoffs—a lot can still change, but let's just go with that scenario for now—that would mean the NFC West runner up is a wild card, and that the rest of the NFC is battling for the other two spots. While the Seahawks obviously need to start winning, they're not far off the rest of the NFC other than the five aforementioned teams. New Orleans improved to 4-2 with Monday's win, but after that, there is not an NFC team with a winning record, just a bunch of two- and three-win teams, meaning the Seahawks are right in the mix.

@CodyBailey1996 asks, "Will Pete Carroll ponder the idea of retirement after admitting to being carried by Russell Wilson?"

A: I'm not going to pretend to have any idea what is going on in Carroll's head in terms of career plans, but I think you and a lot of others are reading way too much into Carroll's comments about Wilson last night.

For those who missed it, Carroll was asked about the Seahawks missing Wilson, particularly in late-game situations, and said, "Let me say it this way—I've been here a long time, and if we didn't have Russell, I probably wouldn't have been here a long time."

By no means is that statement, as you put it, admitting to being carried by Russell Wilson. That's just Carroll acknowledging that in the NFL, you don't win consistently, and as a result keep a head coaching job for a decade, without really good quarterback play. Every coach in the modern NFL who has had a long run with one team has had one or more really good quarterbacks leading the way, whether we're talking about Bill Belichick and Tom Brady or Sean Payton and Drew Brees or Mike Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger. The closest thing to recent exception to this is the Ravens under John Harbaugh, but while Joe Flacco wasn't to the level of those aforementioned quarterbacks, he was good enough to help them win early in his career, but the Ravens also had a significant dip before Lamar Jackson arrived, going 5-11 in 2015 and missing the playoffs for three straight years. Pointing out that teams that win consistently have great quarterbacks doesn't mean quarterbacks are solely responsible for winning—Carroll's leadership has been a big part of Seattle's success too—but the nature of the game and the value of the position means that, yes, it's really tough to win without a great quarterback.

Herk Hannon from Yakima asks, "Why do the Seahawks continue to play their soft zone defense. They play soft and have open areas all over. It seems the opposition just picks it apart, especially in the red zone?"

A: Based off the time stamp of this email, I'm guessing Mark sent this right after the Saints put together a touchdown drive at the end of the half that featured a lot of easy completions to Alvin Kamara, and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was quick to point out after the game that the Seahawks messed that drive up, defensively. Overall, however, the Seahawks played really well on defense yesterday, and if anything, their coverage has gotten a lot tighter over the past two games, resulting in far fewer easy completions.

Giving up 13 points is a good game for any defense, regardless of the opponent, and the Seahawks held the Saints to a 2-for-13 rate on third down and limited them to 304 yards, the lowest total by an opponent this year.

And since you mentioned the red zone, it's worth noting that the Saints managed only one touchdown on three red-zone possessions after coming into the game having scored touchdowns on 13 of 14 trips inside the 20 (yes, the stat book says 1 for 4, but one of those possessions was when New Orleans took over on downs at the 7-yard line at the end of the game and took a knee to end it. And this season, the Seahawks rank fourth in red zone defense, allowing touchdowns on 46.7 percent of opponents' red-zone possessions. So while there are plenty of fair criticisms to make about Seattle's defense, especially earlier in the season, red zone defense has not been the problem.

Willie Wittman from Rancho Cucamonga, California asks, "Why doesn't Michael Dickson angle his punts towards the sideline? It seems almost every punt ends up as a touch back."

A: Look, there are plenty of things to be critical of when it comes to the Seahawks—that's always going to be the case when a team has a losing record—but the play of Dickson ranks pretty low on the list. Yes, Dickson has had a few punts go into the end zone for touchbacks this year, but that's hardly the norm for him. In fact, Dickson has 17 punts that have been downed inside the 20 this season, the most in the NFL.

Dickson also tied the team record for punts inside the 20 in 2019 with 34, matching Jon Ryan and Jeff Feagles' shared record, and last season he was just off that mark with 32. As for kicking toward the sideline, Dickson does do that very well at times, but it's also worth remembering that, even for the best punters, getting the exact location of a punt right can be tricky, and if you're constantly aiming at the sideline, it doesn't take much of a miss-hit to turn a great punt into one that goes out of bounds 20 yards up field from where he was aiming.

George Wakeford from Sidney, British Columbia asks, "With a 53-man roster, why do teams have to scratch a small number of players for each game, healthy or not?"

A: The spirit of this rule is to keep one team from having a big advantage if it is healthier than its opponent heading into a game. If, for example, the Seahawks were playing with a fully healthy 53-man roster while another team had five player unavailable, that's a pretty significant advantage, depth wise, if every healthy player is allowed to suit up. By forcing teams to have inactive players, healthy or not, it in theory creates a more level playing field. That being said, with changes to IR rules allowing teams to bring players back after only three games, meaning more players go on IR now than in the past with less serious injuries, you're seeing more healthy scratches and fewer injury-related inactives than in the past when going on IR meant missing a significant portion of the season. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has been on record saying he'd like to see rosters expand overall, and also that he would like every healthy player to be allowed to suit up, both because it's better for the team to have more depth, and because it's not very much fun for a player to practice all week, only to have to sit out on gameday.

@Walrus_45 asks, "What is the best cheese and why is it aged sharp cheddar?"

A: I'm with you that a good aged cheddar is pretty darn great, but I'm not sure if I have a favorite. I'm also pretty partial to a nice smoked gouda, and it's also super fun to take a bite of gouda and then look at somebody and say, 'Hey, did you try this cheese? It's really goud-a.' Trust me, that joke kills… or not.

Pregame photos of the Seahawks warming up to take on the Saints at Lumen Field.

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