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Seahawks Mailbag: Run Defense, Tight End Usage & More

You had Seahawks questions; we have answers.

mail-bag dec 13

It's a short week for the Seahawks, but the mailbag must go on, so let's get to it. As always, thanks everyone who asked questions this week, and apologies if I couldn't get to yours this time around. And don't forget, in addition to asking questions via twitter, you can also submit them online at Seahawks.com/mailbag.

Daisy Sulit Belleville, Illinois asks, "Why can't the Seahawks flip the switch on improving the run defense?" This was not the only question on this topic.

A: If were as easy as flipping a switch, the Seahawks would have done so by now. The Seahawks did make some significant adjustments after their Week 5 loss to the Saints, and for a while it seemed to make a big difference, with the entire defense playing very well during a four-game winning streak. Since then, opponents have had a lot of success running the ball against Seattle, resulting in three losses in the last four games, and Pete Carroll and company know they've got to start getting better there in a hurry to stay in the playoff hunt.

"We have to make a turn here and the things that we've been focusing on, we have to see the results that we need to get done here," Carroll said Monday."Our players know it and our coaches know it, so we just have to keep staying with it. We know that we have made some progress last week, but it didn't show up like we wanted to. I've been thinking about that maybe it is a bigger deal, it's going to take longer than one week to flip something that we wanted to flip. We will see what happens.

"For whatever reason, since the Tampa game, we haven't been as sharp as we were earlier. There are some things that we have done that have grown from that time, but teams have adapted. We have to keep adapting too, we have to keep getting better, and make sure that we are staying ahead of it. It's been frustrating that we haven't been able to right the stuff that we know. There's no mystery here, we know what we need to do, we just have to get it done.

As the team's head coach, Carroll knows getting things right ultimately falls to him, which is why after the game he said, "I have to do more, I have to do better. I have to help our defense better," he said after the game." But the reality is that there is only so much a team can adjust schematically during the season, and there aren't going to be a ton of changes to the roster this time of year either, so ultimately, as a lot of players pointed out after the game, it's going to fall on them to just start winning more battles at the line of scrimmage and to tackle better.

"Guys have to make tackles," said outside linebacker Bruce Irvin. "When we fit it right, guys aren't making the tackles, and when we don't fit it right, the ball gets through. It's a combination of missed fits and guys not making tackles. Until we get this figured out, we are going to have four weeks of guys pounding the ball on us… It's not communication, it's not anything, it's just man on man. You have to beat your man, get off the block, and make the tackle. That's what it comes down to, it's a mentality. I don't care about play calls or anything, at the end of the day, it's man on man. You have to whoop your man in front of you and make the tackle. That's what it comes down to."

On a related note, @tompage asks, "Coach Carroll has been asked what is wrong with the Seahawks run defense dozens of times over the past few weeks, does he start getting annoyed when he is asked the same thing over and over?"

A: If Carroll is getting annoyed with it, he does a great job hiding it, which is understandable because Carroll is great with the media, and pretty much never loses his cool. There was one instance last season when, after a Week 11 loss to Arizona, Carroll made an abrupt early exit from his press conference, but in that rare instance, Carroll recognized the mistake, and returned with an apology to the media and to answer more questions.

I'm sure the "what's wrong with the running game?" questions are getting a little redundant for Carroll and others, but Carroll also recognizes that his team has not fixed those problems over the past month, so the questions are going to continue, and he understands that it's the media's job to try to get answers to those questions for the fans who care about the team. So no, I don't think Carroll is annoyed with the questions; if anything, he's probably annoyed reporters still have reason to ask them, and is hoping to change that starting on Thursday.

William Grimes from Rainier, Washington asks, "Why doesn't Geno Smith pass more often to the tight ends? The Hawks have great tight ends and they are open so often?"

A: The Seahawks have been spreading the ball around between their tight end trio of Noah Fant, Will Dissly and Colby Parksinson, so if looking at individual numbers for any one of those three, it may not look like the Seahawks are getting the ball to their tight ends all that frequently.

But Smith actually is targeting his tight ends more than recent Seahawks offenses have because, to your point, the Seahawks do have a talented group of players at that position.

Through 14 games, the Seahawks have targeted their tight ends 102 times, which is the sixth highest total in the NFL according to Fantasy Pros. Again, the even distribution makes the tight end usage a little less obvious, but that target total already exceeds the 17-game total from last season when Gerald Everett, Dissly and Parkinson were targeted a total of 97 times. In 2020, that number was 106 in 16 games spread between Dissly, Greg Olsen and Jacob Hollister, with Parkinson getting two targets.

So while the Seahawks' tight end usage might not be great for fantasy football players, they have gotten a lot of production out of that position, with Fant, Dissly and Parkinson combining for 84 catches for 893 yards and six touchdowns.

No, the Seahawks don't have a tight end putting up monster numbers like, say, Kansas City's Travis Kelce, but then again, the Chiefs don't have a receiver duo quite like Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf, nor do many other teams around the league, so those two are inevitably going to get plenty of balls thrown their way.

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@TopCatOne asks about Kenneth Walker III's status.

A: Walker, who missed Sunday's game against Carolina due to an ankle injury suffered the previous week, was able to go through the team's walkthrough Monday evening, and he practiced fully on Tuesday, so there are definitely signs of progress. Whether or not that means he's ready to play Thursday we don't yet know. Perhaps Carroll will provide some clarity on Walker's status when he meets with the media on Wednesday, but my hunch is we won't know for sure on Walker until gameday.

@horseshoetosser asks, "What are your top three favorite treats for Christmas?"

A: Do I have to pick three?

Part of what makes holiday treats so great is the variety of options available this time of year. It's tough to beat a holiday party with a big old tray of mixed cookies and treats, especially when they're small enough you can talk yourself into having "just one more" about three times. Oh, and do holiday beers count as treats? If so, sign me up for an Elysian Bifrost or a Sierra Nevada Celebration Fresh Hop or a Deschutes Jubelale.

The Seattle Seahawks take on the San Francisco 49ers for Week 15 of the 2022 season. Take a look back at some of their previous matchups.

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