The Seahawks kicked off their season with an impressive road win over the Colts, and now will return home for their first game in front of fans since the end of the 2019 season. Before we turn our attention to what should be a fun and very loud opener, 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 didn't get to yours this time around.
Cathy Overton from Elma, WA asks "Explain why the 10 a.m. PT start is such a big deal for West Coast teams? And why are the Seahawks so much better at those early games compared to other teams?"
For a long time, the Seahawks struggled with those 10 a.m. kickoffs, as have a lot of other West Coast teams, because it can be a little challenging to get going that much earlier in the day. A couple of days isn't enough to fully adjust a body clock, so that early game is still going to feel more like 10 a.m. to the team than 1 p.m., the actual kickoff time out east. And that means a day starting pretty early for players, who usually leave the team hotel more than three hours before kickoff.
In recent years, however, the Seahawks have been unfazed by those early kickoffs, going 20-7 in that timeslot dating back to 2013, including winning 12 of their last 13 dating back to 2018. So what's gone into that? Part of it is just that the Seahawks have been good for a long time so they win a lot of their games regardless of time, but there are also things Pete Carroll has put in place that have helped. The team always leaves Friday when going east instead of Saturday, giving players a full day to adjust to the time change, then on the morning of games there's a concerted effort to get players alert and ready to go, be it in the form of loud music playing during breakfast or from coaches bringing extra energy to get everyone fired up.
But perhaps more than anything, what Carroll has done that has made the biggest difference is instill a mentality in his team that they need to control what they can control and ignore what they can't. The team doesn't make its own schedule, so all complaining about it will do is waste people's time and energy while also putting into players' heads that they're in a tough situation. By focusing on what they can control—how they practice that week, the travel schedule, what they do on gameday—the Seahawks have been able to make those early games feel a lot like every other game.
John Buzalski from Maple Valley asked, prior to Sunday's game, "Will the Seahawks have a pass rush this year?"
A: It's only a one-game sample size, but it sure looks like the pass rush could be a strength of this team. Facing a good Colts offensive line—Indianapolis allowed only 21 sacks last season, tied for second fewest in the league—the Seahawks were in Carson Wentz's face all afternoon long, hitting him 10 times, sacking him three times—four including Carlos Dunlap II's sack on a 2-point conversion—and pressuring him several others. And what might be most encouraging about the performance was that pressure was coming from so many different players, with Seattle showing the kind of depth that can be harder for an offense to scheme against than if a team is reliant on one dominant pass-rusher.
Also, while the Seahawks have only played one game, it's also worth noting that they had one of the league's best pass rushes in the second half of last season, and that their depth looked really good in the preseason, so there are reasons for optimism about that group beyond just one good performance against the Colts.
@tompage asks, "It looks like the Seahawks base defense is now a five-man front, three players in a three-point stance and two players in a two-point stance at the end of the line, am I seeing that right? When did that start?"
A: That's a good observation, though I don't know yet after one game if we can call that look a new base. One of the advantages of playing that style of five-man front, which stems from Buddy Ryan's dominant Bears defenses in the 1980s—hence the term, "Bear Front"—is that it's good against the run, and the Colts are a good running team and were also playing without their best receiver, T.Y. Hilton, so it's possible you saw so much of that look because of a game-specific plan.
That being said, it's possible we see more of that look in general because, as Carroll noted after the game, the Seahawks have a lot of hybrid edge-rush/outside linebacker type players who give a defense more flexibility. For example, the Seahawks opened the game with Carlos Dunlap II, Poona Ford, Al Woods and Kerry Hyder Jr. as linemen, plus linebacker Jordyn Brooks on the line of scrimmage outside of Hyder. Later in that same drive, the Seahawks had a front with Dunlap and Darrell Taylor on the edge and Rasheem Green, Bryan Mone and Woods inside, then a play later it was Benson Mayowa and Taylor on the edge with Woods, Mone and Ford inside. If an edge rusher is also able to drop into coverage, it can keep on offense guessing on what that player will do on any specific play.
"The reason we're able to do that is because of the versatility of the players, the edge players," Carroll said after the game when asked about five-man fronts. "So, we've been developing that ability for a while now to see how flexible we can be. We have a number of guys that can all do it."
Carroll was asked about Bear fronts in training camp and, having seen those vaunted '80s Bears defenses up close as Vikings assistant coach, he came away with a new appreciation of what defenses can do.
"If you watched what they asked guy to do, they would expand your expectations of what guys could do with the creativity and the crazy stuff that Buddy would his players to do, and it changed me forever," Carroll said.
Again, we'll have to see what the Seahawks do from week to week, but with players like Taylor, Alton Robinson and Mayowa able to play that edge rusher/outside linebacker hybrid, it's quite possible we see more five-man fronts throughout the year.
@emilioctru asks, "I know you're a fan of both, so here we go: 'Scrubs' or 'Ted Lasso' and why?"
A: Oh man, this is one of the toughest mailbag questions yet. Can't I just say both are great and be done with it? Both shows are similar in some ways, which is no surprise given that Bill Lawrence is the creator of "Scrubs" and a co-creator of "Ted Lasso," so he's got his fingerprints all over both shows. And as plenty of folks have pointed out on social media, there are characters in each show that seem to have a counterpart in the other—J.D. and Ted Lasso, Dr. Cox and Roy Kent, etc.—I think Lawrence needs to arrange a crossover where Cox and Kent bond over how annoyed they get with J.D. and Lasso's overly optimistic view on life.
For me at least, "Scrubs" has more laugh-out-loud moments like a traditional sitcom, whereas "Ted Lasso" has so much heart and just leaves you feeling all warm inside after every episode. Though the brilliance of both shows is that they both can be heartwarming and funny, or at times even a little emotional. If I had to pick one, I'll give the slightest edge to "Scrubs" if only for longevity. That show was consistently great for eight seasons with 20-plus episodes; that's really difficult to do for any show. But if "Ted Lasso" stays this good for a few more seasons, it'll probably too close to call.
@thollis907 asks, "Any word on Geno Atkins joining the Seahawks?" And a few others asked about potential veteran free-agent signings.
A: I can't speak to Atkins or any other specific free agent other than that Atkins did visit earlier this summer and Carroll said the visit went well. For those who don't pay attention to contract minutiae, vested veterans have their contracts fully guaranteed if they're on the roster for Week 1, so it's not uncommon for teams to wait to sign a veteran free agent until after their first game so they don't have to guarantee the entire year. So knowing that, as well as the fact that John Schneider is always working to improve the roster, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Seahawks did sign a veteran this week if the right player were available, but I have not intel on specific players for you. One other thing to remember is that teams can have up to six veteran players on the practice squad, so another option if that veteran player is willing is to sign someone to the practice squad first, give that player some time to get up to speed, then add them to the roster later.
Go behind the scenes with team photographer Rod Mar as he shares moments from the Seattle Seahawks' 28-16 win over the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium on September 12, 2021. Eye on the Hawks is presented by Western Washington Toyota Dealers.