It's been a few weeks for me—the Boyle family made a big trade last month, acquiring a newborn baby girl in exchange for sleep and sanity—but it's mailbag time once again, folks. As always, thanks to everyone who asked questions this week, and apologies if I couldn't get to yours this time around.
@emilioctru asks, "Why is it that Tyler Lockett doesn't garner the same respect as DK Metcalf? Is it just based on his physique?"
A: I assure you Lockett has plenty of respect among his teammates and coaches, but you're right, Lockett does get a bit overshadowed by Metcalf when it comes to the national discussion about the Seahawks. And to your point, yes, I do think Metcalf being built like a superhero does tend to make people focus on him a bit more, and in Metcalf's defense, he is leading the NFL in receiving yards in just his second season, so the hype is warranted.
But as good (and ripped) as Metcalf is, folks shouldn't overlook what Lockett has been doing throughout his career, and particularly over the past three seasons. Lockett is on pace for his second straight 1,000-yard season—he fell just short in 2018 with 965 yards—has 26 touchdowns over the past three years, and is on pace to break the franchise's single-season receptions record (94, Doug Baldwin and Bobby Engram).
Lockett not only makes the spectacular look routine, especially when it comes to toe-tapping touchdown catches, he also might be, pound-for-pound, one of the toughest players in the NFL, routinely popping up from huge hits, including one on a sideline grab last week, and playing through a number of injuries and ailments over the years while only missing one game in six seasons.
@Rapid_Fusion asks, "Is the offense in a slump? If they are, how should they get up to speed with the defense (imagine saying that a month ago)?
A: Considering the Seahawks scored 30-plus points in seven of their first eight games, hand have scored 16, 28, 23 and 12 in their past four, yes, I think it's fair to say they are in a bit of an offensive slump.
It should be noted, however, that the Seahawks have also played some good defenses in that stretch—the Rams and Giants both rank top-10 in points and yards allowed—and as Seahawks coach Pete Carroll discussed on Monday, defenses around the league, Seattle's included, are getting better as the season has progressed following an abbreviated offseason and cancelled preseason that appeared to benefit offenses to start the year.
As for what needs to be done, Russell Wilson would be the first to say he needs to be better than he was on Sunday, and along those lines, the pass protection that was so good for much of the season needs to get back to that level—getting right tackle Brandon Shell back would be a big help. The Seahawks will also look to use Chris Carson, who missed four games with a foot injury, more in the running game as he gets healthier. With that Carroll wants to see his offense get more balanced, which is not necessarily to say they will run more every week, but that when games call for it, they want to have the running game available to turn to more so than they have in recent games.
"We need to be balanced; we need to have our balance about us and able to go wherever we need to go," Carroll said. "Down the stretch here we're going to need to be ready for anything... There's a lot of information—if you notice there's a lot of scores that are starting to go the other way now, starting to cut down a little bit on the all the points. There's been enough time for the defenses to see everybody, and right now it's going to be more challenging. Early in the year it was wide open, it was like the Wild Wild West out there on offense. And we fell prey to that as well. But it's tightening down, so we're going to need the running game, we're going to need the throwing game, we're going to need to be able to do all the things we need to do to take what's there in the games as it unfolds. Here's a great example—we're not sure what (Jets interim defensive coordinator Frank Bush) is going to do with his with his defense, so we're going to have to be ready to play real good solid ball that we can count on, and then go where we need to go when they show their hand. It's going to be an exciting run here down the finish."
As the question points out, it's funny we're having this conversation when, for the first half of the season, the conversation was "What's wrong with the defense?" Given Wilson's track record, and given the playmakers the Seahawks have on offense, I'm actually more optimistic overall about the team in one sense despite a rough patch for the offense because of the turnaround we've seen on defense. I'd be shocked if Wilson and the offense don't get back on track, and if/when that happens, if the defense keeps up what it has been doing of late, the Seahawks are more dangerous come playoff time compared to the early-season version of the team that needed to score 30-plus every week to win even a close game.
@Orange_Ghost asks, "Baby picture?"
@RussellWilson67 asks, "Is Brandon Shell paying, because we've struggled to handle the pass rush?"
A: While it's not fair to blame all the sacks on the offensive line—sometimes Wilson hangs onto the ball looking to make a play, sometimes a running back or a tight end is to blame and not a lineman, and sometimes, as Brian Schottenheimer has noted, the play caller can put the offense in a bad situation—the pass protection has been a bit off from where it was early in the season when the Seahawks were one of the best pass-blocking teams in the league. And yes, the return of Shell, who has quietly been a great free-agent addition, would be a big help. Carroll said Monday that Shell, who has missed two games with an ankle injury, thinks he'll be able to get back to practice this week, which would bode well for his chances of playing Sunday. We'll have to wait until later in the week to know for sure, however.
Bill Fay from Seattle asks, "Can Lumen Field be turned over from football to soccer in 24 hours without compromising the playing field?"
A: Obviously this question came in before the Seahawks played Sunday, followed by a Monday night Sounders game, which was completely bonkers, by the way. But even if the question was answered by the game going off without a hitch, I wanted to address it anyway just to give a shout out to the Lumen Field grounds crew that started removing football lines and markings shortly after Sunday's game ended, and had the field looking great for Monday night's Western Conference Finals. Oh, and congrats to Brian Schmetzer and his squad for another trip to the MLS Cup final.
John Doe from San Jose asks, "What DK Metcalf hair color are you liking the most?"
A: I liked the purple look he had in Philadelphia, plus he had a huge game against the Eagles, so I'll go with that.
@ragedawgg asks, "Why are we so bad?"
A: Obviously there was a lot of negativity this week coming off a disappointing loss, and I'm going to address one of many questions like this to remind folks that the Seahawks are not, in fact, bad. Yes, that was a poor performance and a game the Seahawks should have won, and it's fair to be critical of the offense's play, or of the defense's run defense in the third quarter, or of decisions you might not have liked, but I guess I'd like to point out to everyone who's so mad that there are NFL fans all over the country who would love to be fans of a "bad" 8-4 team. The difference between winning and losing teams is very slim in the NFL—just look at the previously unbeaten Steelers loss to a four-win Washington football team—so to keep winning year after year in this league is a very rare feat, and one that shouldn't be taken for granted.
There are teams all over the league that have losing records year after year, teams that haven't found the right answer at head coach or quarterback and have no real hope of the playoffs. So yes, another Super Bowl or two would be great, but the Seahawks are in very, very rare company with what they've done over the last decade under Pete Carroll and John Schneider, reaching the playoffs in eight of the last 10 seasons, and in all likelihood a ninth time this year. Their next win this season will guarantee a ninth straight winning season, a streak that, depending on what the 6-6 Patriots do the rest of the season, would be either the longest or second longest active streak of winning seasons in the league. Again, it's fine to be critical of the team, to want them to be even better, to be frustrated after a loss, but this team is not bad, they should not fire their head coach, and they should not trade Russell Wilson (those were both suggestions I saw on twitter this week).
Go behind the scenes with team photographer Rod Mar as he shares moments from the Seattle Seahawks' Week 13 game vs. the New York Giants. Eye on the Hawks is presented by Western Washington Toyota Dealers.