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Seahawks Mailbag: Stressful Finishes, Best Seahawk Not Named Russell Wilson & More

You had Seahawks questions; we have answers. 

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The Seahawks are 5-0 for the first time in franchise history and now will enjoy a little time off for their bye week, though as Pete Carroll noted on Monday, this will be anything but a normal bye week for players, who will remain in town and still take daily COVID-19 tests. The bye means it will be a quieter week than usual here at Seahawks.com, but we're still taking time to answer 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.

@WilliamFulmer5 asks, "Why do the Seahawks cause me heart failure every week?"

A: Man, you're telling me. Every week, usually sometime in the third quarter, I start writing the "Rapid Reactions" story we publish right after the game ends, and every week, I find myself frantically changing and rewriting large portions of it as the inevitable end-of-game craziness plays out.

Though other than Sunday's win over Minnesota and the Week 2 win over New England, this year's games have actually been a little less stressful than some of last year's, even if the final scores were fairly close. Atlanta needed two fourth-quarter scores to avoid a blowout, and the Seahawks still won that game by 13 points. The Seahawks did let Dallas come all the way back from a 15-point deficit to take a 1-point lead, but at least that happened with more than four minutes left, and by Seahawks standards at least, needing one score out of Russell Wilson and company with four minutes left is only like a 5.5 on the this-team-is-going-to-give-me-a-heart-attack meter. Then in Miami, the Seahawks again built a big lead with two fourth-quarter scores before Miami made it an 8-point game with a late touchdown and 2-point conversion, but even that was followed immediately by Seattle recovering an onside kick, so that was never too much in doubt.

But to your point, yes, rooting for the Seahawks has been a stressful endeavor in recent years. As The Ringer's Kevin Clark tweeted last season, then retweets pretty much every Sunday during the second half of a Seahawks game, the Seahawks don't do easy, normal games:

The good news is the Seahawks have a real knack for pulling out wins in those crazy games. There's something to be said for having experience in those stressful situations, and obviously having an MVP caliber quarterback helps, as does having a defense that always seems to be able to come up with a clutch stop or turnover even if it hasn't been playing particularly well the rest of the game. And even if you don't like these stressful games, Carroll does, and he also sees value in the Seahawks going through these moments.

"It's so much freakin' fun," Carroll said after Sunday night's win. "But it's way more than that. One, I like to feel like I felt in that fourth quarter, where I was chill about the whole thing, so that I can think clearly, operate well, function well for these guys and do whatever I can to contribute. That's expected that those situations can arise, so you're comfortable with the moments. That's part of it.

"We're making memories, you know? We're making memories, these are memorable situations, that's two. Another thing is the experience that these guys have, it just fortifies why they believe. It just adds on to why they should keep hanging and fighting tough and outlasting the people that were playing, because when you finish, you've got to outlast the other guys, and that's what our guys understand, and they're developing a discipline based on the experience and in the confidence they're getting, because that's all we've been doing for five weeks now. It's just going to make us that much stronger facing whatever the odds are, the issues are, coming down the road. So this is all just the process of building the mentality of a really successful team. These guys are doing everything there, they've got all the stories we need right now, and we'll keep building, hopefully."

It's also worth noting that, as stressful as some of these games have been, you should feel pretty good if the Seahawks go into halftime with a sizeable lead, which they have a couple of times this year. Dating back to Wilson's rookie season, the Seahawks are an astonishing 59-0 when they lead by four or more points at halftime, postseason games included. So yeah, they might have made some games closer than they needed to, but this team knows how to hang on for a win.

@Tolu312 asks, "What was your favorite comeback game? Mine was the NFC Championship game vs. the Packers.

A: Your pick is pretty much impossible to top in terms of degree of difficulty, not to mention significance. But since you picked that one, I'll go with something else. Seattle's NFC Championship win the year before featured a Seattle comeback, though not as late in the game so it wasn't perhaps as dramatic in the sense of the Seahawks getting a late score to win it, but the finish was still plenty stressful as the 49ers drove for a potential winning score before Richard Sherman and Malcolm Smith teamed up for one of the most memorable plays in Seattle sports history.

For regular season games, I might go with the 2017 win over Houston that featured incredible quarterback play out of both Wilson and Deshaun Watson. Neither team had to comeback from a big deficit, but rather both teams kept trading scores and the lead. The score was tied 21-21 at halftime, then 24-24 in the third, followed by five lead changes, the last of them coming when Wilson hit Jimmy Graham for the winning touchdown with 21 seconds left to give Seattle a 41-38 win.

Michael Akpamgbo from Salem, Matt Brumfield from Vancouver, Washington, @OSCAR_RIVERA_8, @BritishSeahawk and others ask if the Seahawks will hire Dan Quinn.

A: Carroll was asked about this on Monday, and it's only natural that people would want to connect those dots seeing as Quinn, who was fired by Atlanta on Sunday, was Seattle's defensive coordinator under Carroll on back-to-back Super Bowl teams. Carroll noted Monday that he had not yet talked to Quinn, and that when he does his focus will be on just making sure Quinn is doing OK and helping him through a tough time, professionally, not on hiring him. And sure, a reunion could be in the cards at some point—Carroll didn't rule that out by any means—but I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for it to happen soon. Being a head coach is a very stressful job, particularly if you're going through the type of a season that leads to a firing, and seeing as those firings almost always come with some sort of contract buyout that gives that coach some financial flexibility, it's common for coaches to take some time off to relax, refocus and take time to choose the next job. Carroll himself has pointed out that the year he took off between getting fired by New England and going to USC was a crucial period in his career, so it would not at all be surprising to see Quinn take some time off to recharge and figure out what he needs to do to be ready for his next opportunity.

@ramblin_mc asks, "Is our defense going to get things cleaned up coming out of the bye?"

A: The Seahawks know they need to get better on defense, and Carroll brought that up again in Monday's press conference, but I would argue that the Seahawks started cleaning things up on defense already. Seattle didn't allow a touchdown in Miami until the final minutes of the game, and didn't give up a play longer than 26 yards, a performance that looks even better after seeing what Ryan Fitzpatrick did against San Francisco a week later, and while the Vikings had a big game running, the pass defense continued trending in the right direction, allowing only two explosive passes (16-plus yards). For reference, the Seahawks allowed a league-high 33 explosives through their first three games, so only giving up two in a game is a considerable improvement.

It will also help to get some reinforcements after the bye, most notably Jamal Adams, who has missed the past two games. Rasheem Green who is on injured reserve with a stinger, should also be back soon, and they hope to get second-round pick Darrell Taylor off the non-football injury list at some point as well. The Seahawks will bring up veteran defensive tackle Damon Harrison from their practice squad at some point too.

@MccullyReece asks, "Other than Russell Wilson, who is playing the best?"

A: I'm assuming you mean among Seahawks, though there's a good argument to be made that Russell Wilson is the best player in the NFL right now, so in theory that question could apply to the entire league, but I'll go ahead and treat it as a Seahawks-specific question since this is a Seahawks mailbag.

There are a few choices—you don't get to 5-0 without a lot of people playing well—and to name a few contenders, I'd go with Tyler Lockett, Duane Brown and Michael Dickson, and for two games before his injury, Jamal Adams. But to me the three players who have stood out most over the course of five games, other than Wilson, are one two veterans who have been doing it for years, Bobby Wagner & K.J. Wright, and a young player who is just starting to tap into his potential, DK Metcalf.

Wagner, who was instrumental in the critical fourth-down stop against the Vikings, currently ranks fourth in the NFL with 52 tackles, one off the league lead, and perhaps most notably, he's playing the best in pass coverage as he has in his nine-year career, according to Carroll. Wright, meanwhile, is playing some of the best football of his career in his 10th season, especially over the past couple of weeks. Wright had a big game in Miami with three passes defensed and multiple tackles for loss, then followed that on Sunday with an interception and a fumble recovery, two takeaways that set up scores. Wright's five passes defensed are tied with Calais Campbell for the most in the league among non-defensive backs, and he also has 27 tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, an interception and two tackles for loss.

Metcalf, meanwhile, has quickly gone from promising rookie to looking like he's truly one of the very best receivers in the league, recording 496 receiving yards and five touchdowns in five games, including the game-winning catch on fourth down last week.

@FleschnerNick asks, "OK, tacos or hot dogs?"

A: Tacos, easily. And don't get me wrong, I've got nothing against a good hot dog, but tacos are amazing for so many reasons, not the least of which is variety and versatility. Go to any decent taco restaurant or taco truck and you'll find so many amazing options from fish to beef to pork vegetarian options. Got leftovers from the night before and tortillas and maybe some salsa, some cheese, an avocado? Then you can make some sort of random taco that will taste better than those leftovers would have on their own. And then there's breakfast tacos, which allow you to enjoy taco goodness at any time of day.

On at least a couple of occasions, not coincidentally in Texas, I've had tacos for every meal in a day and had zero regrets with that decision.

Sonny Sandretto from Kennewick asks, "Ryan Neal was all over in Week 5. I would like to know if there is a place for him after Jamal Adams comes back?"

A: Neal did indeed have another strong performance in his second career start, and yes, I do think there's going to be some sort of role for him even after Adams returns, likely following the bye. Obviously Adams isn't going to lose his starting job, but the Seahawks could use Neal in dime packages, especially if Lano Hill's back injury continues to be an issue. And while Ugo Amadi has played well in the nickel role and shouldn't be in danger of losing that, the Seahawks could use Neal in "big nickel" packages if they liked the matchup of having a bigger defensive back against a particular opponent. The fact that Neal has played both cornerback and safety in Seattle's defense should only help him find ways on the field.

@DanCohen17 asks, "With action green now 6-0, as well as being the best looking uniform we have, when is it going to replace white or grey as a primary selection?"

A: Well Dan, you're right that the Seahawks are unbeaten in action green, and while I like them, particularly with blue pants like they wore Sunday instead of all green everything, there are some fans who disagree. I don't see action green becoming a regular uniform that the Seahawks wear more than once or twice a year, but I do think they're a fun change of pace. And you didn't ask, this directly, but white jerseys with blue pants is Seattle's best uniform combo, so replacing white as a primary jersey is a non-starter in my opinion.

@veschb asks, "When and how are you voting?"

A: By mail, and pretty much as soon as I get said ballot in the mail. Thankfully, Washington does it right and actually makes it easy for citizens to exercise their right to vote.

@Kmobile1989 asks, "Have teams been sharing their protocols with each other when it comes to dealing with COVID?"

A: For the most part teams are all operating under the same NFL protocols when it comes to COVID-19, but that doesn't mean that teams aren't trying to go above and beyond to stay as safe as possible. As Pete Carroll noted last week, he reached out to New England coach Bill Belichick to see how the Patriots were handling things after a positive test, so that's at least one team wanting to reach out to gather more information, and I'm sure others have as well.

Go behind the scenes with team photographer Rod Mar as he shares moments from the Seattle Seahawks' 27-26 win over the Minnesota Vikings at CenturyLink Field. Eye on the Hawks is presented by Western Washington Toyota Dealers.

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