There's no denying that the Seahawks missed an opportunity on Sunday when they lost in Cincinnati, falling 17-13 in a game that saw Seattle's offense reach the red zone four times in the second half with the chance to take the lead. But despite the disappointment in that loss, the Seahawks head into Week 6 feeling good about the overall direction of the team, especially because of how well the defense is playing of late. Next up is a Week 7 home game against the Arizona Cardinals, but before we turn our attention to that game, 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 Seahawks.com/mailbag.
@drummerhawkboy8 asks, "Why is the red zone a problem for the Seahawks and can they fix it overnight?
A: The inability to convert in the red zone was a huge factor in the Seahawks losing last weekend, and there were several factors at play, not the least of which is a very good Bengals defense. Geno Smith faced a lot of pressure in the red zone, and as Pete Carroll noted, the Seahawks also weren't as effective as they'd like to be running the ball in that area. As admirably as Seattle's offensive line has performed despite injuries this season, Sunday's game seemed to be the clearest case of those injuries hampering the offense, especially with Jake Curhan and Phil Haynes playing at less than 100 percent, and those issues were only magnified in the red zone where defenses can get more aggressive without a full field to defend.
While Sunday's red zone performance was a problem, I'd be a lot more concerned if it had been an issue all season, but prior to Sunday the Seahawks have actually been pretty good in the red zone, scoring touchdowns on 10 of 17 trips inside the 20 in their first four games, a success rate of 58.8 percent that would rank ninth in the league. That's not to say the Seahawks don't need to continue to focus on getting better in that area, I just don't think it's fair to overreact to a single bad performance against a good defense with a beat-up offensive line.
Dolly Koci from Seattle asks, "I adore the Seahawks and Pete Carroll, but why didn't they take Geno Smith out after the first sacks in the fourth quarter? I was so frustrated with his performance against the Bengals, I feel like he lost the game for the Seahawks.
A: I've seen a surprising number of people, including my own brother, who seem to be overreacting to Sunday's performance by Smith, which, though definitely not his best game, was hardly as bad as people are making it out to be.
Yes, Smith's numbers aren't as good as last season when he got off to a fast start, but he has also played nearly an entire season without anything close to a fully healthy offensive line, and he has still done a lot of things really well. Even in Sunday's loss, Smith still threw for 323 yards and made a lot of really good throws down field, and was very efficient when he wasn't under pressure. The problem was that Smith was under a heck of a lot of pressure, and at times that hindered him and the offense. According to Pro Football Focus, Smith was hit or sacked 13 times, tied for third most in a game this season, and the most in Week 6, while NFL Next Gen Stats credited four Bengals players with at least six pressures, something that hasn't happened in one game since 2020.
Smith was hard on himself after the loss, probably more so than his performance merited—though that level of accountability no doubt goes a long way in the locker room—but he is not what's going to hold the Seahawks back from achieving what they want to achieve this season. Never mind his 2022 season in which Smith was one of the NFL's best quarterbacks by just about any margin, you only need to look back to Week 2 of this season to find a game in which Smith was a huge reason the Seahawks pulled off an overtime win over the Lions, who are looking more and more like one of the best teams in the NFC.
Do the Seahawks need Smith (and the entire offense) to be better than what we saw on Sunday? Of course. That doesn't mean making a change a quarterback is the solution.
Beau Watson from Austin, Texas asks, "What's your take on areas of improvement for third down on both sides of the ball? Have we seen development or regression in those areas recently?"
A: Prior to the aforementioned red-zone issues in Week 6, third down, on both sides of the ball, was one of the biggest concerns for the Seahawks, who currently rank 30th on both offense and defense when it comes to converting on and stopping conversions on third down.
The good news is that the offense, for all of its red-zone struggles, still took a step in the right direction on Sunday when it came to third down, going 5 for 12, which, while not great, is an improvement. The Seahawks were even better early in the game, converting on four of their first seven third downs.
On defense, just about everything has been improving every week, and that includes third-down performance. After allowing their first three opponents to go 27 for 47 on third down, the Seahawks have held the Giants and Bengals to a combined 9 for 27 conversion rate, including a 3 for 11 day for the Bengals on third down.
@IPLicensignlaw asks, "The secondary really seems to be locking things down on defense, but what thoughts do you have about unlocking the offense? Is it a lock that we'll see changes on the offensive line next week?"
A: Even after a tough game in Cincinnati, the Seahawks rank eighth in scoring, 14th in total offense and 11th in passing offense, so I'm not so sure the offense needs to be unlocked more than refined. You mentioning the line is fair, because injuries there have been a factor, especially last week with starters Damien Lewis and Abraham Lucas out, and with Phil Haynes and Jake Curhan playing through injuries.
Whether we see change on the line this week likely will have a lot to do with health. Carroll indicated this likely won't be the week Lucas comes back from injured reserve, so if Curhan is healthy he likely would stay there, though the Seahawks have other options there if they need them, including Stone Forsythe, who was starting in place of Charles Cross at left tackle prior to Cross' return last week, or veteran Jason Peters, who is on the practice squad, but who is ready for game action, Carroll said.
@wenfot asks, "Of all the halftime entertainment each season, do you have a favorite? I like the corgi races?"
A: Your choice is a very good one, and in general anything involving dogs running around the field is good with me. Bonus points for the times the dogs go rogue and have to be chased down (I vaguely recall Blitz making a failed diving effort to catch a runaway dog).
@MrEd315 asks, "What might happen with the Seahawks to address needs prior to the NFL trade deadline?"
A: When it comes to trades, the philosophy of general manager John Schneider is that they'll be in on everything. Being in on a potential trade doesn't necessarily mean it comes close to happening, but rather that the Seahawks will at least do their due diligence on just about every deal to see if it can help the team.
With the deadline still two weeks away, it's hard to say what kind of deal might make sense for the Seahawks. They like their talent and depth all over the roster, but of course they'll also consider a deal if they think it'll make them even better somewhere. And injuries between now and the deadline can always be a factor as well.
All of that being said, it doesn't seem super likely that the Seahawks make a big splash at the deadline for a few reasons. For starters, as I just mentioned, they like this young roster a lot, and there aren't a lot of glaring needs—again, injuries can always change that. The Seahawks have also had a lot of success building through the draft the last two years, and probably aren't looking to give up a lot of draft capital next year, especially now that they no longer have extra first and second-round picks coming their way like they did the last two years. Lastly, as Schneider mentioned before the start of the season, the Seahawks are fairly tight when it comes to cap space, which means it could be hard to take on a veteran player who is available at the deadline. Again, the Seahawks will at least consider just about everything, so you can never say never, but this may not be a year where the Seahawks are looking to make a big move at the deadline.
The Seahawks and Cardinals face off on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023. Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m. PT. Take a look back through history at the Seahawks' matchups against the Cardinals.