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Seahawks Mailbag: Russell Wilson’s MVP Chances, Pass Interference Challenges & More

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The Seahawks are down to their last preseason tune-up before the regular season begins next week, and a Thursday night game means this week’s mailbag is a bit early, and yes, a bit condensed. As always, thanks to everyone who asked a question this week, and apologies if I wasn’t able to get to yours this time around. And remember, in addition to asking questions via Twitter, you can also submit your inquiries via Seahawks.com/SeahawksMailbag.

Mark Ramos from Yakima asks, “Will Russell Wilson finally win the MVP award this year?”

A: Seattle’s preference of having a balanced offense will always hurt Wilson’s chances—it shouldn’t but it does. As efficient as Wilson was last year, establishing career highs in passer rating and touchdown passes, voters tend to want to see gaudy numbers in terms of yards and completions as well, so it’s hard to say in any given year that he’s a favorite for the award as long as the Seahawks remain committed to balance. Again, I’m not saying that’s right, just that it seems to be the perception from a national perspective.

All of that being said, however, if the Seahawks can put together a good season—team success is all but a prerequisite for MVP honors—and if Wilson can put together an even better season than last year’s impressive campaign, which is hardly out of the question considering he’s in just his second season working with current offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, then he absolutely could become a legitimate candidate in 2019.

@ArrDJay asks, “What’s the status of David Moore and DK Metcalf?”

A: Seahawks coach Pete Carroll addressed both of those receivers’ injuries after practice Tuesday. You can get the full details here, but the CliffsNotes version is this: Moore has a non-displaced fracture in the humerus bone of his arm, and while he’ll be out into the regular season, it’s not a long-term injury and he won’t be placed on injured reserve. Metcalf, who had surgery last week, is doing some rehab work and isn’t expected to be out long, but the exact timeline is still to be determined.

@TheCrappyTotals asks, “Why are all cuts done at once now? Seems like they used to be done in stages?”

A: Until 2017, cuts were done in stages, with teams cutting down to 75 players after the third preseason game, then cutting to 53 after the fourth game. Now all those cuts happen at once, and it’s something Carroll is a big fan of, both because it gives the team one more preseason game in which they can evaluate talent, and because it provides more depth should a team want to rest the majority of their starters in that game, something teams tend to do for the fourth preseason game.

“It’s just way better,” Carroll said. “This is the way it should’ve been all along. Whoever that offends by saying that, I don’t care, because this is exactly what it should be. These guys deserve to play and the way it’s come out where we give the last opportunity to the younger players when it’s limited, and you’re 15 players down from that, it makes no sense. This is great. We really appreciate it.”

Alan Schein from Shelton asks, “Why not try J.D. McKissic as a slot receiver? He’s shifty and fits the slot receiver prototype.”

A: Basically, it’s just that they like him better as a running back and a returner. The Seahawks are well aware of McKissic’s background playing receiver in college, and he has gotten looks there at times in the NFL, but the Seahawks like what he can do as a moveable piece out of the backfield. That ability to play multiple spots does increase his value, however, as it can be helpful to have a player capable of filling in at another spot should injuries come up during a season.

Former digital media intern @nickstorm60 asks, “Going into Week 1, is it looking like Chris Carson is going to be a bell-cow back, or is Penny going to make it more of an even committee?”

A: Carroll has said a couple of times that he sees those two as a one-two punch, and that he doesn’t care who is one and who is two, so there could end up being something of a committee approach. But while I definitely think Penny will have a bigger role in 2019 than he did as a rookie, in part because he’s healthier, it is still pretty clear that Carson is the No.1 back in this offense based on the rotations we’ve seen in the preseason.

Carson had 247 carries to Penny’s 85 last year, and if both are healthy I would imagine that gap closes a decent amount, especially because Mike Davis, who is now in Chicago, had 112 carries to account for, but Carson has earned the right to be the starter heading into the year and he’ll be tough to unseat.

@flashdash007 asks, “What should we the fans look forward to in Week 4 of the preseason if starters aren’t playing?”

A: As mentioned above, it’s normal for a number of starters to be held out, but that doesn’t mean the fourth preseason game isn’t interesting. For a handful of players on the bubble, this can be a make-or-break showcase, either to make Seattle’s roster or to show some other team that they’re worthy of a waiver claim should they get cut on Saturday.

If you’re looking for particular positions to watch, the nickel cornerback battle remains an intriguing one because there doesn’t appear to be a clear favorite. C.J. Prosise’s strong performance Saturday served as a reminder of how good the depth there is behind Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny, so the performances of Prosise, McKissic and Travis Homer are all worth watching. The battle for the final job or two at receiver is also very interesting, as is the backup quarterback battle between Geno Smith and Paxton Lynch.

On defense, there are tough calls to be made at all three levels, so for a few players, a big performance could make all the difference.

We'll look closer at some of these position battles later in the week with a “Things To Watch” article, so keep an eye out for that.

@KuhlHawkFan asks, “Can you provide a pass interference replay for dummies explanation for the new rule?

A: For the fist time, pass interference will be reviewable in 2019, and for the most part it will be just like any other reviewable play. Coaches can challenge a pass interference call or no call, except in the final two minutes of a half when the call must come from the replay booth.

For the replay official to make that call during the final two minutes, there has to be “clear and obvious visual evidence” that a pass interference foul may or may not have occurred, based on viewing the play live or any initial replays. NFL Operations says stoppage will occur under stricter criteria than for other reviewable plays to prevent excessive game stoppages. Once a play goes to review, it will be changed if there’s “clear and obvious visual evidence” that the ruling on the field was incorrect.

Based on what we’ve seen in the preseason thus far, it seems like officials will err on the side of letting the call on the field stand unless there’s a pretty egregious missed call, but we’ll have to see how this plays out over the course of the season.

And it’s worth noting that for now at least, this is on a trial basis for 2019 and will have to be voted on again after the season if pass interference is going to be reviewable going forward.

Photos from Tuesday's practice at Virginia Mason Athletic Center in preparation for Thursday's preseason game against the Oakland Raiders.

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