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Seahawks Mailbag: The Running Game, Will Dissly, Ping Pong & More

With a Monday night game coming up, Seahawks players have Wednesday off instead of their usual Tuesday off day, then they’ll kick off their practice week on Thursday. With that in mind, it’s time once again to answer questions from you, the fans, about the Seahawks (or whatever else is on your mind) following a season-opening loss at Denver . As always, thanks to everyone who asked questions this week, and apologies if I couldn’t get to yours this time around.

@HugoWal53187445 asks, “Will Chris Carson get more carries this week after his performance in Week 1?” @mikemart5000 and @rajuseattle ask about the distribution of carries between Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny.

A: Seahawks running backs carried the ball only 14 times in Sunday’s opener, with Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny getting seven carries apiece. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll made it clear after the game, then again in Tuesday’s press conference, that he wants to see his team run the ball better and more often, and he also said Carson “took the lead” at that position, particularly with Penny dealing with a little rust having missed the final three preseason games with a finger injury. Penny will continue to be a big part of the offense going forward, but based off Carroll’s comments, it’s probably safe to assume that Carson will get the most work at that spot Monday night.

“Chris looked really good,” Carroll said. “He was really aggressive and did what he could with the plays he had. Rashaad looked a little rusty to me and when I visited with him about it—he really only had one good week of practice coming back and it wasn’t enough. He needs more work and he wasn’t as responsive as he had been earlier on, before he had to sit out for a while, so he’s going to work real hard to make sure that he’s ready to go and we’ll work him in. We love the chance of getting him in there. We’re going to keep looking for it, but Chris really took the lead in the position after that game and Rashaad’s going to—right now, they’re going to alternate and we’re going to keep working those guys and see how they do, but Rashaad needs to get back really primed up like he was about a month ago.”

On a related note, @mark_buergel asks, “What happened to running the football?

A: Regardless of who is running the ball, Carroll wants to see his team get more chances to get the ground game going, something that was hard to do in Denver with the offense struggling to convert on third down to sustain drives—two of Seattle’s touchdown drives came off of short fields following turnovers, and on the third, Russell Wilson and Tyler Lockett accounted for most of the yardage with a 51-yard touchdown reception.

“Not enough,” Carroll said when asked about the number of rushes Seattle had. “We were behind a lot in the game, but that’s not the reason. The reason was we didn’t convert on third down. It’s just football—two of 12 (on third down) and that leaves you where you don’t get your next series, you don’t convert and we really missed. There was four third-and-5 or less (plays), every one of them should’ve been conversions and that changes the complexion of everything about the game and the play-calling and all that.”

A lot of factors will go into Seattle’s play-calling this week, but it’s a safe bet that the Seahawks will make an effort to get more production out of the running game.

@KidReporter363 asks, “How does Will Dissly continue to fit into the offense? What about when Ed Dickson recovers from his injury.”

A: Based off what we saw in Denver, it’s probably safe to assume that Will Dissly, a rookie out of the University of Washington, will continue to have a big role in the offense all season long, regardless of who is available at that position. Dissly had three catches for 105 yards in his debut, and while it’s not reasonable to assume that kind of pass-catching production every week, his ability to make plays catching the ball while also being a good blocker make him an important part of the offense.

“That was really fun to see him come through like that,” Carroll said of Dissly’s big game. “It’s hard to tackle a guy that weighs 270 pounds running down the field. Big catches too, good tough catches. He showed us that he’s got really good hands. We don’t have any problem with that at all. He runs good routes, all that. We have thought of him as coming in here to be the Y and be physical and all that. Thrilled by the way that he is a good catcher. He’s got good hands, got good feel for it, and I think he’s only going to get better. Had he mishandled a couple of balls in his first game, I would’ve understood that, but he didn’t and he came through in great fashion. Russ knows he can catch the football and he can put it in different spots for him. He’s got enough flexibility that he has a good catching range. I think it’s really positive for us.”

As for what might happen when Ed Dickson is back—the free-agent addition opened the season on the reserve/non-football injury list—it’s worth remembering that the Seahawks, like pretty much every NFL team, uses multiple tight ends with regularity. For example, Nick Vannett played 61 percent of the snaps in Sunday’s opener and Dissly played 58 percent, so even if there’s a third tight end in the mix, there are ways to get them all involved.

@SettingTheEdge asks, “Is the Seahawks’ close loss at 5,000 feet at Denver, starting four rookies while missing key players foretelling of them possibly finding the ability to dominate?”

A: First off, love the glass-half-full approach after a loss. As for the question, maybe it’s a little too early to talk about dominating, especially in a league where even the best teams rarely win by huge margins—go back and look at how many close games the Super Bowl-winning 2013 Seahawks won. But to your point, I do think an optimistic but reasonable way to look at the loss in Denver is that, despite some issues that can be fixed and some injury absences, the Seahawks were competitive in a tough, hot, high-altitude environment against a tough team, and should only improve going forward.

As Carroll noted after detailing his team’s third-down issues and having earlier discussed the big plays his defense gave up, he noted, “After all of the stuff we just talked about, and I know I went through the same thing with the club, we’re heading into the fourth quarter ready to go take a game over in a very difficult situation, and there’s something about that that we need to understand, that we had a chance to hang in that game because of the plays that were made and all that. There’s so much good room to clear things up and to get better and all that. We come out of it with an understanding of that. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get that done.”

The Seahawks are younger than they have been in the past few years, particularly on defense, so while they want to win every time they take the field, it’s worth remembering that this isn’t a finished product and that they should make considerable strides as the season progresses.

@rryan911 asks, “Who’s the best in the locker room at ping pong this year?”

A: Questions like this are always hard to answer because when it comes to non-football competition, whether it’s basketball or ping pong or just about anything else, a disproportionate number of players all think they are the best—or at least among the best—on the team. Seriously, if you asked everyone on the roster which Seahawks would be on their starting five in basketball, half of them, if not more, would put themselves on that team.

But from what I’ve seen in the locker room so far, I can tell you pretty definitively that Neiko Thorpe is the most vocal ping pong player on the team. Justin Britt might play the most, and definitely has some skill, but the best player might just be rookie punter Michael Dickson. Making that even more impressive is that Dickson plays ping pong entirely with his right foot.

OK, not really, but you almost believed that, didn’t you?

@NOAHRRS asks, “What’s the goal with promoting Keenan Reynolds from the practice squad in the wake of Doug Baldwin’s injury?”

A: For the most part, the goal is depth. Carroll noted this week that Reynolds plays in the slot, much like Baldwin often does, but that shouldn’t be taken to mean he’ll just step right into Baldwin’s role. With Baldwin out for much of last week’s game, Tyler Lockett, Brandon Marshall and Jaron Brown saw the most playing time, and that will likely be the case again for as long as Baldwin is out. David Moore, who played 16 snaps last week, could see his playing time increase as well, but in terms of Reynolds, for now he will likely be counted on to provide depth and help on special teams.

@TheRowdyRunners asks, “Why didn’t Pete Carroll challenge the NFL on that Denver TD catch?”

A: If you mean challenge the play at the time, Carroll can’t throw the challenge flag, because all scoring-play reviews have to be initiated by replay officials, and in fact that play was reviewed. Had the on-field ruling been an incomplete pass, then the Broncos would have had to decide whether or not they wanted to challenge the call. After review, the ruling was not confirmed, but rather stood, meaning there was likely nothing definitive enough to have changed the initial call either way, whether the ruling been incomplete or touchdown.

Now if what you mean is why isn’t Carroll reaching out to the NFL about the call, he very well might do that—coaches send plays into the league after games every week to get clarification on calls—but whether or not that happened with that particular call, it won’t make much difference at this point anyway. As for the play in question, here’s what Carroll said during Tuesday’s press conference about Denver’s go-ahead touchdown.

“The game’s over, no belly-aching, forget about it, but when you look at where the pylon is, which is out of bounds, the shading of the grass isn’t the same right there,” Carroll said. “It was really difficult to tell where his foot was. His foot was on the pylon to us, which means he’s out of bounds. But look at it again and see how the white line and the other little shading in there, there’s a little discrepancy in there it looked like. It could be the T.V., I don’t know. His foot was real solidly even with that pylon. Maybe it was in there, maybe it slid to that point, I don’t know. One guy really saw it clearly and then got talked out of it. The other guy really saw it clearly and talked him into it. That turned it to a situation where the decision was it was a touchdown, they would have had to challenge it. It would’ve been interesting would they have challenged that play had the original call of incomplete had stood. I don’t know what they would’ve done but it was really a difficult one to tell. They had enough discrepancy they had to go to the replay, and then replay they came out pretty strong. When they came out of it, they thought they saw it. When we looked at it, even at the end, we were surprised.”

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