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Seahawks Mailbag: Will The Defense Improve? Potential For Trades & More

You had Seahawks questions; we have answers.  

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The Seahawks lost their first game of the 2020 season in Arizona last weekend, and now will look to bounce back when they host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. But before we turn our attention to another NFC West matchup this week, it's time once again 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.

Brandon Gibbs from Billings, Montana, says, "I'm thrilled about the start of the season, but worried about the defense. What's the precedent for a defense being so poor becoming good by the end of the season?"

On a related note, the super-optimistic @Wisconsin12S says, "I think there's no way to improve the defense. If I'm wrong, convince me."

A: To Brandon's question on precedent, I'm not going to pretend to know the history of NFL defenses and how they've improved, but as for the Seahawks, they do have a history of getting a lot better on defense as the season goes along. Granted, no defense in the Pete Carroll/John Schneider era has started out giving up this many points and yards, but they have had a lot of teams, particularly early on, that improved significantly on defense, starting with the 2011 team that begin the turnaround a year before the Seahawks became an NFC powerhouse. That year, the Seahawks held six of their final eight opponents under 20 points, allowing 23 points in the other two games, and they allowed 23 or more points in six of their first eight games. The 2012 and 2013 teams also saw their numbers improve in the second half of the season, and the 2014 team made a dramatic turn, holding five if its last six opponents to single-digit scores after giving up 24 or more in five of the first 10 games.

I don't point to those teams because I expect to see this defense improve to find itself playing at a 2012-14 level, but rather to show that Carroll-cached teams have a history of getting better on defense as the year progresses. It's probably most relevant when looking at the 2011 and 2012 teams, not because this defense will be the same as those, but because this year's defense features a lot of new faces at all three levels, so just like that 2011 team that was transitioning, it could take some time for this unit to come together, particularly with all the injuries early on this season in the secondary and at linebacker.

And again, I realize that in a lot of those cases we're talking about a defense that was already playing fairly well turning into a great one, but this year's team also features the NFL's leading offense, which those teams earlier in the Carroll/Schneider era didn't have, so the 2020 version of the Seahawks defense doesn't necessarily need to be great as long as it can get better.

As for how it will improve, I assure you Carroll and the defensive coaching staff continue to evaluate how they're calling games/scheme, etc. and some improvement can and should come there, but there also should be a pretty good infusion of talent coming soon. Safety Jamal Adams, a first-team All-Pro last season, should be back soon, possibly this week. Defensive end Rasheem Green, who has been on injured reserve since Week 2, should be back at practice this week, Carroll said; and the Seahawks could be getting veteran defensive tackle, Damon Harrison, on the field soon after the former first-team All-Pro spent a couple of weeks on the practice squad getting in shape. Second-round pick Darrell Taylor could add to the pass-rush at some point, though his return seems to be further off based off Carroll's answers on his health.

The Seahawks very well could be active at the trade deadline as well, and if they can get some players healthy and/or add talent in a trade, this defense should perform considerably better. Again, I'm not suggesting they are going to flip the switch and become the 2013 defense, but with Seattle's offense playing the way it is, this year's defense doesn't need to be the best in the NFL, it just needs to get better.

Eugene Oliver from Denver asks, "Why in heaven's name did the Seahawks not use DK Metcalf more on Sunday?"

A: Metcalf did have a quiet day, pass-catching wise at least (he had a pretty memorable play in the game still), recording season lows in receptions and yards, but that hardly hindered the Seahawks passing offense. The Cardinals put Pro-Bowl cornerback Patrick Peterson on Metcalf for much of the game, and as Metcalf himself said last week when discussing that potential matchups, teams putting attention can open things up for other players. Sure enough, a quiet day for Metcalf helped open things up for Tyler Lockett, who had the best game in franchise history by a Seahawks receiver not named Steve Largent, catching 15 passes for 200 yards and three touchdowns.

Even after a two-catch, 23-yard game, Metcalf is still on pace for a 1,384-yard season with 13 touchdowns, so I wouldn't worry too much about him being involved in the offense.

@BradJMan and many others asked if the Seahawks will make a trade for Everson Griffen or anyone else to help the defense?

A: These questions obviously were sent in before news came down that the Dallas Cowboys had sent Griffin to Detroit in a trade on Tuesday, so we can cross that veteran pass-rusher off the wish list. That being said, I do think the Seahawks will look to see if they can make a move/moves to get better, and yes, pass-rush would make sense as an area of focus. The Seahawks are a little limited in terms of draft capital having sent next year's first and third round picks to the Jets for Jamal Adams, but general John Schneider can always get creative with future picks if they really want to make a deal happen, or if there's a player at a position of depth for Seattle, the Seahawks could always try to include a player in a deal. It's also worth remember that good players sometimes get traded at this time of year for not a lot of compensation, as was the case last year when the Seahawks got Quandre Diggs for only a fifth-rounder.

And if good players are being shopped by their respective teams, it's a safe bet that the Seahawks are at least going to look into it even if they don't end up pulling the trigger. 

"I would tell you like always tell you guys, and this is just the facts, we are in on everything we can know of. And so if there legitimately has been conversation from a particular team, John knows it, and he's on it. That means that we're listening to whatever the options are and we're trying to figure things out to see what's best and all of that. There's a lot a lot of factors in all this, not to mention (salary) cap and all kinds of deals. But the point being, are we interested in guys that we were interested before? Yeah. We have lot of information because we've done our homework and stuff like that, so we are we are focused in on stuff like that."

I know this will come a surprise, but I'm not in the loop on what moves could be coming—believe it or not, when Carroll says things like, "if there legitimately has been conversation from a particular team, John knows it, and he's on it," he's referring to general manager John Schneider, not me. But based off of this team's history of being aggressive with trades, yes, I do think there's a good chance something will happen in the next week.

Wesley Edmonson from Seattle and @5creynolds ask if I know when Jamal Adams will be back?

A: We still don't know that for sure, though there is still at least some hope it will happen this week. Last week Carroll expressed optimism that Adams would make it back for this week's game against San Francisco, and while that's still a possibility, Carroll said Monday they won't likely know that until late in the week.

"I don't know that yet," Carroll said Monday when asked if Adams will play this week. "I talked to him on Saturday before we left, and his workouts are going great and all that. He really wants to get back, but he's going to have to show it that he's capable of doing all the stuff that we need to do football-wise. Because he's so close to being back, I think this will carry into the late in the week and we'll see if it works out. But I can't tell you, conclusively right now."

Lorethea Garrett from Dupont asks, "Why do the Seahawks continue to throw the ball at the goal line? Can't they see that this has been a problem for years?"

A: Look, I get that a certain final play of a Super Bowl is always going to haunt people about this topic, and yes, Russell Wilson threw an interception deep in the red zone last week, but it's just not accurate that the Seahawks are some sort of disaster when they throw the ball at or near the goal line.

In his career, Wilson has thrown 111 touchdown passes from inside the 10-yard line and just five interceptions, and this season he has thrown 10 touchdowns with two interceptions, including eight touchdown passes from inside the 5-yard line.

There are plenty of things to be critical of when it comes to discussing this team, but red-zone play-calling is pretty darn low on the list. Even after last week's red zone interception, the Seahawks still rank first in the NFL in red-zone touchdown percentage, converting 85.7 percent of their red-zone possessions into touchdowns.

@DanCohen17 asks, "Are there any Seahawks staff with experience at running back?"

A: Haha. If so, I don't think it's recent experience that would be of any help. But you bring up an interesting point in that, while the Seahawks are dealing with injuries at running back, it is all but impossible for the Seahawks to add help at running back this week due to the league's COVID-19 procedures. Newly acquired players have to go through a six-day entry process of daily testing before they can even enter the building, let alone practice. That means if the Seahawks wanted to add a running back to play this week, that player would have already had to start testing on Monday, and would have to play on Sunday with zero practice time this week.

In other words, the Seahawks will have to find their answers at running back from within the existing roster. Rookie DeeJay Dallas is healthy. while Chris Carson (foot), Travis Homer (knee bruise) and Carlos Hyde (hamstring) all came out of the game with injuries. Obviously the hope is that at least one or two of those players will be able to suit up, along with Dallas, in which case the Seahawks would probably be OK so long as they didn't have more injuries occur during the game. The next option would be to see if there are any players on the roster at different positions who could fill in in a pinch.

Lorie McCormick from Tumwater asks, "Walter Jones was the best in the game at his position, has he ever thought about coaching?"

A: I won't pretend to speak for Jones in particular, but I'll address this question because I hear it a lot about various former players ranging from Kam Chancellor to Cliff Avril to Marshawn Lynch and a lot of others. And while plenty of former players, including the three we just covered, would probably make fantastic coaches, here's the thing to remember—coaching, particularly in entry-level NFL positions, is a huge grind with really long hours, and until you get to coordinator-level or head coach positions, not great pay, at least not relative to the money those guys made as players. So if you're a former player who made tens of millions of dollars while busting your butt throughout your playing career, would you rather enjoy that money relax a bit, spend some quality time with your family and maybe travel a little? Or do you want to work 80-or-so hours a week for not-so-great pay?

@marioavila27 asks, "Are coaches still allowed to challenge pass-interference penalties? I haven't seen any challenges this season."

A: No, coaches can't challenge pass interference this year. That was approved in 2019 on a trial basis, and after trying it out for a year, it was not brought back for 2020.

Go behind the scenes from the Seattle Seahawks' Week 7 game vs. the Arizona Cardinals. Eye on the Hawks is presented by Western Washington Toyota Dealers.

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