Following a big road victory over the New York Jets, the Seahawks are now 3-1 heading into their bye week and feeling positive about the direction of the team. Not only are the Seahawks playing well on both sides of the ball, they should be a much healthier team when they return to action thanks to this early bye. But while players are off this week, the mail bag remains open, so 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 couldn't answer yours this time.
@kibbykibbykibby asks, "Do you expect Richard Sherman to follow Julio Jones for the majority of the game like he followed Brandon Marshall?"
A: This is going to be a huge topic of conversation when the Seahawks host the Falcons after their bye, so might as well get a head start on it now, right?
In case you hadn't heard, Julio Jones had a whopping 300 receiving yards on 12 catches in the Falcons' Week 4 win over Carolina, so yes, stopping him will be a big focus for the Seahawks. Whether that means putting Richard Sherman on Jones throughout the game remains to be seen, and it's probably safe to assume neither Sherman nor Seahawks coach Pete Carroll will say next week whether or not it is the plan for Sherman to shadow Jones. As the question mentions, however, Sherman did spend most of the game moving around to following New York's Brandon Marshall rather than stick to his usual spot at left cornerback, and Sherman did a bit of that last year against top receivers like Dez Bryant, Antonio Brown and A.J. Green, so it's definitely an option for the Seahawks.
And while Sherman's take on this topic is always that he's just doing whatever coaches ask him to do, he's already well aware of the possible challenge that faces him next week.
"I heard Julio went off," Sherman said after Sunday's win over the Jets. "That'd be fun. Three hundred? That's what he had? That's going to be a big deal. He's a good friend and it's going to be a fun matchup battling him."
@ethan_krein asks, "Does Seattle have Super Bowl hopes?"
A: A lot has to go right for a team to win the two or three playoff games it takes to get to a Super Bowl, so I'm not about to confidently predict a Super Bowl appearance for any team after just four games, but I do think it's fair to say the Seahawks have about as good a chance of getting there as any other team in the early stages of the season.
Based off of the past two games, it looks like Wilson and his receivers are picking up where they left off last season, plus Jimmy Graham is now a big part of that attack. The running game hasn't been quite what the Seahawks want it to be, but there are reasons for optimism going forward, from the play of Christine Michael to the growth of the line to the boost the team will get when Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise are healthy. The defense that has been one of the best in the NFL for years is again playing at a very high level—considerably better than it played early last season—and special teams play has again been strong. Add all of that up, and there's no reason to think the Seahawks, who have advanced to the divisional round or beyond in five of six seasons under Carroll, can't be right in the mix again in January.
On Monday, Carroll acknowledged that this team has a chance to be the best he has had yet in Seattle, though he made sure to point out that saying that wasn't to be taken as a prediction of what might happen in the postseason.
"There's a chance," he said. "I think we have a chance to, because of the experience and great leadership that we have, the development and coming of age of the quarterback, we have our kicking game in order, there's a lot of really good phases of our team that we can count on. We're growing on offense up front, they're doing a good job and pass protection is a big deal to us right now, and we'll grow in the running game. I've loved this team all along, I've seen it coming—just the way they've gone about the work. We have a chance to be really good."
@BiancaRussoPDX asks "Is there a chance the track could bend?" @peaceoutchumps asks, "What about us braindead slobs?" And @InaneAnemone says "The ring came off my pudding can."
A: First off, you all are great for responding with so many lines from that episode. It's been a fun day at work going down the Simpsons rabbit hole on the internet (hey, it's the bye week). Secondly, to answer those questions:
And while we're talking about the Simpsons…
@poketheswirl asks, "Who was better on the Simpsons, Phil Hartman or Kelsey Grammer?"
A: As great as Grammer's Sideshow Bob character was, I have to go with Hartman. Hartman was such a big part of the show as a reoccurring guest star, most notably as actor Troy McClure—"Hi, I'm Troy McClure. You may remember me from such educational films as 'Two Minus Three Equals Negative Fun' and 'Firecrackers: The Silent Killer'"—and lawyer Lionel Hutz. Hartman also played Lyle Lanley, the character pitching the aforementioned Springfield monorail, Bill Clinton, Charlton Heston and others on the show.
@TablerDotCom asks, "With Mike Morgan placed on injured reserve, could a veteran be signed in the coming weeks?" And @okaken300 asks, "Who is going to take Mike Morgan's job?"
A:Starting strongside linebacker Mike Morgan went on injured reserve Monday, a day before having surgery for a sports hernia, and while Morgan could return later this season, Carroll said, he will be out for a while. It seems unlikely as of now that a veteran would be signed to replace Morgan, because the Seahawks already have some in-house candidates to play there, including Kevin Pierre-Louis and Cassius Marsh. Because the Seahawks have played a lot of nickel defense this season, Morgan hasn't played a ton of snaps on defense, other than against the Rams when Seattle played more base defense, so the bigger loss might be felt on special teams, where Morgan is a big contributor. Since Marsh and Pierre-Louis both play big roles on special teams already, that is where a new player will need to fill in. Seattle promoted linebacker Jordan Tripp off of their practice squad Monday, so he could pick up the slack on special teams, or another option could be rookie safety Tyvis Powell, who has been inactive the past two games after playing a pretty substantial special teams role in the first two games.
Also, Morgan provided an update post-surgery today on Instagram.
@TMoneymakeer asks, "How is Tyler Lockett doing with his injury?"
A: Lockett has been playing through a sprained knee the past two games, and while the injury isn't serious enough to keep him from playing, it has limited Lockett's snaps on offense and he also has not returned kickoffs in those two games. The Seahawks are expecting to get Lockett back to full strength, or something close to it, coming out of the bye.
"He's going to be great after the break," Carroll said Sunday. "He needs the break. We tried to take it easy on him today and not use him too much just to make sure we didn't over-expose him. He could play, but he's not just the way we'd like him to be. It's awesome that we're going on the break to get two great weeks, and he'll be rolling by the time we get back."
@cjoecruz003 asks, "What is the timeline on Quinton Jefferson's return?"
A: Jefferson, who has been playing with a cast on his hand in the early part of this season, will have surgery during the bye week, Carroll said. The rookie defensive lineman is expected to be back in two to three weeks, Carroll said.
@RG5asks, "With the addition of C.J. Spiller, who is going to make the cut once Thomas Rawls and Prosise are back and healthy?" @legumeduprix and @TheCrappyTotals also asks about how running back playing time and roster spots will sort themselves out when everyone is healthy.
A: The Seahawks added Spiller last week in large part because, with Prosise still dealing with a wrist injury, they were looking for a third-down back. He also gave the Seahawks another option at kick returner with Lockett limited. And yes, that position group could get crowded down the road when Prosise and Rawls return from their injuries, but it's probably too early to start worrying about how that's going to work out. Rawls and Prosise are both on the 53-man roster now, so a move doesn't need to happen when they get healthy, and for now, the Seahawks feel fortunate to have been able to sign a talented player like Spiller as a free agent. If they feel like they have too many running backs somewhere down the road and need a roster spot for another position group, they'll cross that bridge when they get to it.
@WildJayAppears asks, "With Christine Michael doing so well, who will see the most time at running back when Thomas Rawls returns?" And Noy3s asks, "With Christine Michael running effectively the last couple of weeks, is it safe to say the job is his even when Rawls is healthy?"
A: These are interesting questions. When Rawls returned from his leg injury late in the preseason, Michael started the opener, but after getting some playing time and more practice under his belt, Rawls was the Week 2 starter. Unfortunately he suffered a different leg injury against the Rams, a crack in his fibula that will keep him out a few more weeks, putting Michael back into the starting role, and Michael has looked good all season.
Carroll said before Rawls' latest injury that he is comfortable using two backs and not having a true lead back—"one-two punch" was the phrase he used—so regardless of who starts down the road, my guess is both will play a lot as long as they're both healthy.
Standup comedian/actress/author/Canadian punting enthusiast @sarahcolonna asks, "Did you enjoy Jen Kirkman's show?"
A:On the recommendation of Colonna, who in addition to being quite hilarious is also married to Seahawks punter Jon Ryan, I saw Kirkman perform in New York on Saturday night. And yes, Sarah, Jen was very funny and I had a great time, so thanks for the suggestion.
@Matthew08812882 asks, "Do you think the Seahawks defense will get more turnovers against offensive teams like the Falcons and Saints?"
A: The Seahawks intercepted Ryan Fitzpatrick three times on Sunday after having just one takeaway in their first three games, and yes, I do think we'll see more turnovers going forward. That's not a commentary on the quality of offenses Seattle will face—Atlanta has been very impressive so far this season, ranking first in the league in total offense, passing offense and scoring—but rather just a statement about Seattle's defense, which is too talented to only get one takeaway every three games.
And as we saw against the Jets, if the Seahawks can get the lead late in games, forcing teams to throw, that makes a big difference as well. It also doesn't hurt to face offenses that are more willing to take shots down field, as the Jets were, rather than more conservative offenses that don't want to take risks. Should we expect three turnovers per game going forward? Hardly, but the takeaways should come more frequently than they did in Seattle's first three games.
@DennisGill10 asks, "What is the weirdest touchdown scored by a Seahawks opponent?"
A:I'm guessing this question came up because of the Jets' final score against the Seahawks, a fumble recovery and 42-yard return that followed a Cliff Avril sack and forced fumble. Somehow the fumble was launched forward out of Fitzpatrick's hand, causing Seattle's defense to think it was an incomplete pass, but it was ruled a fumble and the Jets turned it into a rather strange, though ultimately meaningless score.
That was definitely one of the stranger opponent touchdowns I can remember, though maybe not as weird as one Tennessee scored against Seattle in 2013. That one, a 77-yard fumble return on a field goal attempt, was especially bizarre because of the circumstances that led up to the play. Earlier in the half, kicker Steven Hauschka hurt himself making a tackle on kick coverage. He would eventually return to the game, but when Seattle found itself in field-goal range late in the half, Hauschka was temporarily unavailable. Punter Jon Ryan was set to fill in, but the problem with that plan is that Ryan is the usual holder. Safety Chris Maragos was the replacement holder, and, well, things didn't go so well. Maragos didn't handle the snap well, and when he tried to run and find someone to throw to, he fumbled, the Titans recovered, and what was supposed to be a short field goal for the Seahawks instead became a long touchdown for the Titans.
Look through some action photos from Week 4 vs the New York Jets at MetLife Field.