The Seahawks close out the regular season on Sunday against the Rams, a game that they'll need to win in order to keep alive their playoff hopes. Of course, it's not as simple as win-and-in for the Seahawks, because they would also need a Lions win over Green Bay or tie between those teams in order to earn the NFC's final Wild Card berth. We cover that topic and a lot more in this week's Seahawks mailbag. As always, thanks to everyone who sent in questions this week, and apologies if I couldn't get to yours this time around. And remember, you can always submit questions online at Seahawks.com/mailbag in addition to doing so on Twitter.
@Superhawks asks, "How do the players feel after what happened on Monday Night Football? Will we see any hesitation in making a tackle or a big hit with the Seahawks or any other team this weekend?"
A: What happened on Monday, with Bills safety Damar Hamlin going into cardiac arrest and collapsing on the field, affected just about anyone who is affiliated with the NFL, and especially players who know they're taking a risk every time they take the field.
The Seahawks returned to work on Wednesday with a meeting that wasn’t about football, but rather one in which team physician Dr. Jon Drezner spoke to players about the procedures the Seahawks and all teams have in place to handle situations like Hamlin's—and the more we learn about Monday, the more clear it becomes that the doctors and athletic trainers on site were vital in saving Hamlin's life.
No two players will process a situation like this the same, but the Seahawks players who have talked about it had similar messages, first expressing their support for Hamlin, but also acknowledging that they got into football knowing there are risks involved, even if what happened with Hamlin is incredibly rare. DK Metcalf and Quandre Diggs both spoke to that topic Wednesday, noting that while it's impossible not to sometimes think about the risks, it won't change the way they play.
"It does make you think about your family members a little bit more," said Diggs. "When you are stepping on that field, you start thinking. Heck, if I am being honest, if you see that on Sunday, you're like, 'That could have been the last time I talked to my mom, right before the game.' The stress that is put on them, I think that's the way I look at it. It won't change my approach because you know the risks that you take when you play this game, but you never expect something like that."
And for the Bills in particular, and to a lesser extent every other team, playing this weekend should be a lot easier given the incredibly positive news that has come out the past two days on Hamlin, including the fact that he had his breathing tube out and was able address the team Friday morning via FaceTime.
David Fioretti of Covington, Washington asks, "How is it fair for the Seahawks that the Lions vs. Packers game is flexed to Sunday Night Football? A Seahawks win means the Lions have no incentive to play Sunday night. Livid fan! Disrespect for the Hawks."
A: When the NFL announced Monday that Sunday's Packers vs. Lions game was moving to primetime, a lot of Seahawks fans got upset, and I totally understand why. If the Seahawks win their game against the Rams, that will mean the Lions will find out they're out of playoff contention only an hour or so before kickoff. Obviously, that's not ideal from a Seahawks perspective, as they want the Lions to be as motivated as possible, and it's definitely a little odd that the NFL seems OK with this scenario even though, five years ago, the league elected not to play a Sunday night game at the end of the regular season to avoid just this type of situation.
But ultimately, the Seahawks know this is one of those situations that they can't control, so they need to focus on taking care of their own business and hope for the best in the night game. And the way Pete Carroll sees it, there's no way Lions coach Dan Campbell won't have his team fired up for the game, no matter the circumstances.
"I know that there's been maybe some question about the order of the games being played on Sunday or whatever," Carroll said Monday. "That doesn't mean anything to me. We don't care about that one bit. It's not going to change anything that we're doing. We're going for it. And then maybe there'd be pretty good party afterwards to watch the next game. But the last thing I would ever worry about is coach Campbell's team not getting ready to play, regardless of what's at stake and what's going on. He's going to get them fired up and jacked, that's all he's ever done. And that'll be a great match too. So we've got to take care of business and be focused on our stuff and have a great week, hopefully get a couple guys healthy again, and go put a finishing touch on this regular season with some excitement to come."
On the possibility of a letdown for the Lions should a Seahawks win eliminate them from the playoffs, Carroll said, "They know what's going on. In some respects—I know what I would think, if people think you're not going to go for it, that's when I'm going even harder. I'm going to find every way I can. To think you're going to hold back? There's so much conversation about that, it's the syndrome like, 'Oh if you have something to play for, you're not going to play hard.' Who do you think these guys are? These guys are freakin' warriors. They're going to go out and battle, they don't care. Maybe there's some guys that don't, but I don't know, I don't understand that thinking. You'd say a cuss word and away you go, you're off and playing, and that's it."
To Carroll's point, players are motivated by a lot of things beyond just making the playoffs. Yes, a championship is the ultimate goal, but NFL players are also, with very few exceptions, extremely competitive individuals who have far too much pride to just give up. That's especially true when facing a division rival and opposing quarterback who have been the dominant force in the division for more than a decade. And playoffs or not, players know every game can matter in terms of future jobs and contracts, or they might be chasing personal goals or contract incentives that would also provide a lot of motivation.
Again, it's not an ideal situation for the Seahawks, and if the goal was true competitive balance, the league would have had the two games at the same time, but ultimately I just can't see the Lions doing anything other than fighting like crazy to knock the Packers out of the playoffs, regardless of the playoff implications for themselves.
On a somewhat related note, @SarahSees asks, "How can we collectively jump on the Quandre Diggs train and incentivize the Lions to show up on Sunday?"
A: In case you missed it, Quandre Diggs, who played in Detroit before being traded to Seattle in 2019, joked that he was reaching out to former teammates there and offering to pay for vacations if the Lions can help the Seahawks out with a win at Lambeau Field… At least I think he was joking… maybe?
Again, first and foremost the Seahawks need to take care of their own business first and beat the Rams. All this complaining about the schedule won't mean a darn thing if Seattle loses and is eliminated before Sunday Night Football kicks off.
And as I covered above, I really don't think the Lions are going to just give up and not care if they are eliminated from the playoffs. Yes, there may be a temporary letdown if/when they get that news, but for all the reasons mentioned above, I fully expect the Lions to go all out regardless of what is or isn't at stake.
@adamdnathan asks, "Which Seahawks players and coaches would best correspond to their counterparts in Ted Lasso?"
A: This is one of those I'm-going-to-spend-way-more-time-than-I-should-thinking-about-this topics, so thanks for costing me that time I'll never get back, Adam.
Anyway, the super easy and obvious choice, for many reasons, is Pete Carroll and Ted Lasso. The first time I watched the first season, I immediately thought of Carroll, from the John Wooden Pyramid of Success on Lasso's wall, to his endless optimism, to his focus on helping players be their best selves, on and off the field, there is a whole lot of Pete Carroll in Ted Lasso. Of course we're talking about a comedy so Lasso's character is going to be a bit more quirky than the real-life coach of the Seahawks, but there are a lot of similarities.
I mean, look at this quote from an episode of Ted Lasso: "For me, success is not about the wins and losses, it's about helping these young fellas be the best versions of themselves, on and off the field."
Then read this one from Carroll in 2016: "This is about helping people be the best they can be. It doesn't have anything to do with sports to me. It doesn't have anything to do with sports. It has to do with parenting, it has to do with mentoring, it has to do with coaching and leading, if you want it to.
"We're trying to help them be the best they can be. Simply that's what guides everything that we do. So whatever it takes to get that done is what we're charged to find. In that, I think a person has a chance to be much closer to their potential if they get true to who they are, rather than something you might want them to be or try to govern them to be. It's simply that. If I'm going to find somebody's best, I need to get them as close to what their true potential is, and connected to who they are, and call on that to be consistent. It's really hard to be something that you're not, but that's asked of people a lot. That's not what we're doing. We're trying to realize that these guys have really special, unique qualities about themselves and then try to figure out how to fit it together. And sometimes it doesn't fit. Sometimes it's not right, and we have to govern and adjust."
If season three of Ted Lasso features the titular character espousing the benefits of khakis and Nike Air Monarchs, then we'll definitely know someone in the writers room is Seahawks/Pete Carroll fan.
As for other characters—I spent too much time on the Carroll-Lasso comparison, so this is going to be brief—I'm going to go with Bruce Irvin as Roy Kent, the grizzled veteran who despite a sometime rough exterior, has a big heart if you get to know him.
Just look at what Irvin said after signing this season on why it was a good fit: "Being here, it's perfect. I don' think with my personality—I'm not a bad person, but I'm very vocal. I have a certain way about me, I'm kind of in my ways. I don't want to go nowhere new. I might come off rude to other people somewhere else, but here it's just me being me, just being real and authentic. This is one of the only places I'd leave my house to come play again."
Might come off as rude, but it's just Bruce being Bruce? Yeah, that can definitely be Roy Kent.
Nick Bellore is Nathan Shelley, AKA, Nate the Great, but only for the scene where he roasts the team to get them motivated. I could definitely see that out of Bellore, but hopefully not (spoiler alert!) the evil turn in season two.
Cody Barton can be Dani Rojas, just because he seems to always be smiling. Maybe we can get him saying "football is life!" while he tackles Rams players this weekend. I could keep going, but maybe we save that for another mailbag.
@tpedro22 asks, "Any chance we will see more of Dareke Young at fullback?"
A: As this question notes, we've been seeing a little bit of Young, a rookie receiver, lined up at fullback in the past two games. It hasn't been a big part of the offense, but it is an intriguing wrinkle simply because of the potential mismatches you could get having a receiver run routes out of the backfield. Offensive coordinator Shane Waldron talked a bit about using Young as a fullback this week, saying, "Just seeing the more that he can do. He has a good history in terms of playing different spots as a college player there. He wasn't just a receiver coming up and has the ability to be flexible and do different things. It just allows you to be creative with him at times on offense."
@LemonMeteor asks, "What do the Seahawks do about their linebacker situation in the offseason?"
A: This is an interesting position heading into the offseason, particularly with Jordyn Brooks now facing a long rehab for an ACL injury. It's entirely possible Brooks is back for the start of the season, but that's no guarantee, and even if he were back by then, the Seahawks would likely want extra depth there to make sure he's not being rushed back.
Cody Barton has played well this season, particularly of late, but he's in the final year of his rookie contract, so there's no guarantee he's back. Tanner Muse and Jon Rhattigan will be restricted and exclusive rights free agents, respectively, so the Seahawks can bring them back as well, but again, that means, beyond Brooks, none of Seattle's off-ball linebackers are currently under contract past this season.
Brooks will be back eventually and be a key piece of Seattle's defense, but there is uncertainty beyond that, so getting back to the question at hand, it would seem very likely the Seahawks will need to add to that group in the offseason. Fortunately when it comes to adding there or just about any position, the Seahawks are set up well to add talent both in terms of having a healthy amount of draft capital, and also having a good amount of cap space.
The Seahawks and Rams face off for the first game of the regular season on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023. Kickoff is set for 1:25 p.m. PT. Take a look back through history at the Seahawks' matchups against the Rams.