The Seahawks finished the first half of the season with a 27-20 win in Atlanta, and next up is a home game against another NFC South foe, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With the midway point of the season upon us, and with the trade deadline passing Tuesday afternoon, now is a great time to answer questions from you, the fans. As always, thanks to everyone who asked questions this week, and apologies if we couldn't get to yours this time around. If you'd like to submit a question for future mailbags, you can send me questions via Twitter (@johnpboyle) or online at Seahawks.com/SeahawksMailbag.
@thomsen_kirk asks, "Is the Seahawks' second-half-of-the-season success due to Pete Carroll's ability to motivate players, or his ability to adapt scheme to the talent he has been coaching, or some kind of witchcraft?"
A: Witchcraft, it's definitely witchcraft. No wait, that's probably not right, but your are correct that, under Carroll and John Schneider, the Seahawks have traditionally been a better team in the second half of seasons than in the first. Since 2012, the Seahawks are 37-21-1 in September and October games, and they're 44-17 after the calendar changes to November, not a massive difference, but a significant one. That second-half improvement is something the Seahawks are counting on happening again this season, which is part of why they're so excited about a 6-2 start despite feeling like they haven't really hit their stride just yet.
Carroll was asked about this very phenomenon on Monday, and even he isn't exactly sure of the reason behind it. But while he doesn't have all the answers, one factor he has seen over the years is the way young players develop early in seasons and make bigger contributions late the year.
"Counting on finishing really strong," Carroll said. "I honestly don't know exactly why that happens, but it's happened at SC, too. Something is happening. Something is going on. What I do attribute it to is the commitment to the young guys and playing guys early. Counting on them to be a part of the game plans early in the season so they develop early and quickly. By the time you get to the midway point, they should be really elevating to where it feels like a normal, regular status of experienced players. If you look at the last couple weeks of our special teams and how those guys are really stepping to a whole other level of tempo, speed, and aggressiveness. You can feel it. You can feel the guys that are more comfortable now. As we head into the second half, it's when we want to get this win and let's get going. You kick into the mode of utilizing those guys more. They make it deeper. Like you saw yesterday, you saw us playing some younger guys some. That gives other guys a break and can keep the whole team fresher because you don't have to burden guys as much. You can get them in rotations and all that. I don't know that that's exactly what happens, but I know that's a part of the factor, as opposed to not playing guys early on where people think they're not quite ready. Often, it's hard to get them into the regular mode where you can rotate them in, and you feel fine about them playing the starters. That's the same mentality we've had for a long time, committing to the young guys. Seemingly, it's been a factor."
Andrew Beety from Westbrook, Maine, Travis Aragon from Kirkland, @mccrow_1 and a whole bunch of other folks asked about the Seahawks potentially adding help at the trade deadline.
A: While the Seahawks did make a trade last week to acquire safety Quandre Diggs, and while they made a big move just before the start of the season adding defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, they did not make a move prior to Tuesday's 1 p.m. PT trade deadline. It wasn't that the Seahawks weren't considering any and all potential deals, but as Carroll noted Monday, and as an uneventful trade deadline, league-wide, confirmed, it was a quiet couple of days coming down to the deadline.
"I don't think it's going to entertain me for as long as I'd like," Carroll said Monday when asked about the approaching trade deadline. "It seems kind of quiet. As much as we've worked to get to this point to understand what's available and what's going on and people that are talking—like we say we're always in on it and I'm kind of hoping things start picking up a little bit just for fun."
@flashdash007 asks, "Is Tyler Lockett going to go down second only to Steve Largent among all-time Seahawks receivers."
A: Could it happen someday? Sure, but Lockett still has quite a ways to go. Largent, one of four Seahawks in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is obviously the clear-cut No. 1 when it comes to Seahawks receivers, then behind him you could make a good argument for either Doug Baldwin or Brian Blades for No 2 on that list, with the other being No. 3. Blades is second to Largent in career receptions and yards, while Baldwin is third in both categories, and Baldwin is second in receiving touchdowns, having put up his numbers in four fewer seasons than Blades. Lockett is still has a lot of work to do to match the career numbers of Baldwin or Blades, but based off of his play last year and in the first half of this season, he definitely has a chance to put himself in that discussion in a few more years. One of the best things Lockett has going for him is that he has built an amazing level of chemistry with Russell Wilson, and has a chance to play with one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL now and in the future.
Don Cassady from Sallisaw, Oklahoma asks, "Will Ethan Pocic be eligible to come off injured reserve in a few weeks? I know Joey Hunt will be the center going forward, but we'll need a backup."
A: It's not immediately clear who will be Seattle's backup center this week—no one on Seattle's current 53-man roster has NFL experience at center aside from Hunt—and that's a question I'm sure Carroll will address this week, but you are correct that Pocic could be an option there down the stretch. Unfortunately the Seahawks will have to wait a while until Pocic is an option, as players on injured reserve must miss at least eight games before being eligible to return. Pocic was placed on IR with a neck injury prior to Seattle's Week 6 game in Cleveland, meaning he could return for Seattle's Week 15 game at Carolina.
@itzrockettt asks, "How do you think Quandre Diggs will be used for the Seahawks?"
A: This is a really intriguing question that we might not know the complete answer to right away. Even before adding Diggs, safety was an interesting position for the Seahawks because of the recent play of Marquise Blair, who has started the past two games for an injured Bradley McDougald, and played very well. Now that McDougald is getting healthier, what happens when he's back and when Diggs is fully healthy—he was held out last week with a hamstring injury—and ready to factor into the mix at safety? Carroll said after the Seahawks acquired Diggs in a trade that they'll work him in at both safety spots, and McDougald and Blair have both played both spots as well, so there are a lot of different combinations in play with those three, Tedric Thompson and, whenever he gets back from an elbow injury, Lano Hill. The Seahawks have used three-safety formations in the past as well, so that could be another factor as everyone gets back to health. So while I can't tell you how Diggs will be used just yet, safety is definitely a position to keep an eye on going forward.
Kevin McCarty from Limerick, Ireland asks if an atypical solution to the Seahawks pass rush would be to only rush three players and instead focus on dropping eight into coverage?
A: While I appreciate the outside-the-box thinking, I don't foresee that being the plan going forward. While all teams, the Seahawks included, will occasionally drop eight into coverage to try to confuse a passer, or in a third-and-long situation, doing so regularly would be problematic. If teams know they're only facing a three-man pass rush, good quarterbacks will find ways to beat that coverage, because no matter how good your secondary is, it's almost impossible to cover a good receiver for a long time, which is why a good pass rush is so valuable in the first place.
Instead, the Seahawks are expecting their pass-rush to get better in the second half of the season. Jarran Reed, who had 10.5 sacks last year, has only been back for two games, so he should make a difference, and with Jadeveon Clowney and Ziggy Ansah both in their first seasons with the Seahawks, the hope and expectation is that they'll become more productive in terms of sacks as the season goes along.
Asked Monday what was missing from the pass rush, Carroll said, "The consistency. It's like taking good cuts at the plate. You get your best shot when you have the opportunity, so you take good swings. Sometimes we're connecting, and sometimes we're not as clean as we could be. We're not taking advantage of the calls that we have as much as we would like. So, that has to do with being connected, communicating within the players, but also using the calls that come from the sidelines and maximizing them. We should just get better quality swings and that'll up our chances."
Go behind the scenes with team photographer Rod Mar as he shares moments from the Seattle Seahawks' Week 8 game against the Atlanta Falcons. Eye on the Hawks is presented by Western Washington Toyota Dealers.