The Seahawks were too busy piling up Pro Bowl honors for me to answer all of your questions Tuesday afternoon like I normally would, so this is a day late, but here we go with this week's Twitter Q&A. As always, thanks to everyone who asked questions, and sorry if I was unable to get to yours.
@ChiBulls_Chris asks, "When do you believe Marshawn Lynch will be back?" And @christodafur asks, "Would it be unfortunate for Marshawn not to have one regular-season game under his belt?"
A: When will Marshawn Lynch be back is understandably one of the biggest questions anyone has about the Seahawks these days, especially after Thomas Rawls went down with a season-ending injury. And while I'd love to be able to give you a better answer, the truth is that it's just too soon to know. As Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday, Lynch is back in the Bay Area working out with the people he usually trains with in the offseason, and when he's ready to come back to practice—it won't be this week, Carroll said—then we might be able to start talking about a timeline on Lynch.
"I don't know," Carroll said on a timeline for Lynch's return. "I know each day is a challenge for him, he's working hard and all that. We keep seeing how he can come back, he'll get back here when he can."
As for the concern about him getting a regular-season game under his belt before the playoffs, that shouldn't be a big issue. Lynch, after all, barely plays in the preseason and that hasn't affected his play in the regular season, so if he's ready for game action, he should be just fine jumping back in, even if that return comes in the midst of a postseason run.
@Fletcher12thman asks, "Do you think Christine Michael showed enough on Sunday to be our starter until Beast is back?"
A: Michael played very well in his return to the Seahawks, rushing for a career-best 84 yards on 16 carries, and while that's a very encouraging sign, Carroll isn't ready to commit to Michael as the feature back just yet. Carroll said Monday the Seahawks will continue to do things similar to how they did last week with Michael and Bryce Brown splitting the work load—Brown rushed for 43 yards on nine carries against Cleveland. But while the division of carries going forward remains something of a mystery, the play of Michael, and just as importantly, his attitude, bodes well both for the Seahawks and for his career. A second-round pick in 2013, Michael's physical ability was never in doubt, but by his own admission his consistency wasn't there during his first stint with the Seahawks, but after being traded to Dallas, released by the Cowboys, then later released from Washington's practice squad, Michael came back to Seattle humbled.
"Just very determined," is how Carroll described Michael's first week back. "Very determined to be right where he's supposed to be. Not in stuff on the outside, not having too much fun with what's going on, just being in the moment. His mindfulness has really shown up, trying to be there for his teammates. He demonstrated that throughout. He cherishes this opportunity more than he ever has, I think. This is the most important opportunity he's ever been faced with and he appreciates that."
@12thManAlaska asks, "Which Seahawk would be best up for the challenge of delivering gifts to households all over the world in the span of one night?"
A: Jimmy Graham is a pilot, and Russell Wilson has a sponsorship deal with Alaska Airlines, so both of those players could cover a lot of ground in one night, but there's an easy answer here, and that's the man who sports a bushy beard and refers to himself as Black Santa: Michael Bennett. Just look at this picture on his foundation’s website.
@JimHawley5 asks, "Is Doug Baldwin still angry?"
A: Doug Baldwin has always maintained that he is passionate, not angry, but whatever word you use to describe it, it's fair to say that Baldwin has been known to wear his emotions on his sleeve from time to time.
As Baldwin has said this year on a few occasions, he has learned to care less this season, not meaning that he cares less about football or anything important in his life, but caring less about things he can't control such as what is said about him by the media or even the number of targets he gets in a game. All of that being said, however, Baldwin, like many of his teammates, will continue to play with a chip on his shoulder. Just as Richard Sherman will always remember how many cornerbacks were drafted ahead of him in 2011, Baldwin will remember that 32 teams passed on him for seven rounds of the draft that year. And even as Baldwin puts up the best numbers of his career, he will now be able to feed that chip on his shoulder with the fact that he was left off the Pro Bowl roster despite being tied for the NFL lead in touchdown receptions with 13.
And speaking of Baldwin, be sure to check out Sheil Kapadia’s feature on him on ESPN.com.
@sarah_seattle12 asks, "Are the Seahawks a run-heavy offense because of Marshawn Lynch? Why don't they adjust and pass more on first and second down in his absence?"
A: The Seahawks aren't a run-heavy team because of Marshawn Lynch. In fact, it's more accurate to say they traded for Lynch in 2010 because they needed a back to match Carroll's balanced philosophy rather than that they built a philosophy around Lynch. Balance on offense is a big deal to Carroll, and it's no coincidence that this current run of Seahawks success began midway through the 2011 season when the Seahawks got their run game going.
So even without Lynch and Rawls, the Seahawks will continue to run the ball, which was evident in the fact that they ran the ball six more times than they threw it last week on their way to 182 rushing yards, their third highest total of the season. In fact, even as Russell Wilson has been on a historic run of passing success over the past five games, the Seahawks have still run the ball 33 more times than they have thrown it during that stretch.
@JaredStanger asks, "Which of your fellow beat writers wastes the most time on Twitter?"
A: I'm not sure it's fair to say anyone in this line of work is wasting time on Twitter seeing how vital of a part of our jobs it has become—most news breaks there first, it's one of the easiest ways to interact with readers, etc. I will say that Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times exhibits the most patience on Twitter, continuously clarifying the difference between Lockette and Lockett, or explaining that the Bears tight end named Zach Miller isn't the same Zach Miller who played here. His Times colleague Jayson Jenks wastes the most of everyone else's time with bad puns.
@ByTimBooth asks, "Pearl Jam plays the Gorge, Showbox at the Market or Paramount and you can only go to one. Which venue?"
A: Speaking of people on the Seahawks and every other Seattle beat, that's Associated Press sports writer and fellow Pearl Jam fanatic Tim Booth submitting that question. And this is a well-timed question seeing as today is Eddie Vedder's birthday.
This is a tough question, because the Gorge is one of the best concert venues you'll find in this country, but I have already seen Pearl Jam there a couple of times. The Paramount is a pretty great venue, as is the Showbox, and both would provide a smaller, more intimate setting, similar to when I saw an acoustic show from the eighth row at Benaroya Hall many years ago (how's that for a not-so-humble brag?). If I had to choose one, I'll go with the Gorge, because a good outdoor venue is hard to beat.
@ArrDJay asks, "Rate the play of the 'next man up' Kelcie McCray, Christine Michael, Bryce Brown, DeShawn Shead, etc."
A: I'll save individual ratings for someone else, but this does bring up a good point that the Seahawks have gotten big contributions from players who weren't in the starting lineup at the beginning of the season, a reflection both of their depth and what an "always compete" environment can do for a team.
McCray has been very good filling in for an injured Kam Chancellor, Shead has been incredibly versatile, playing nearly every position in the secondary before eventually taking the starting right cornerback job from Cary Williams, and Michael and Brown both played well last week in their first game with Seattle this season. Another name to add to that list is Patrick Lewis, who won the starting job at center earlier this season and has been a part of the dramatic turnaround by the offensive line.
@rosepetalzzz asks, "Have you had tamales before? If so, what kind do you like?"
A: Yes, I love tamales. As for my favorite, I'd have to go with the mole chicken tamales at la Carta de Oaxaca in Ballard. And make sure you get it with a fried egg on top.
@Juistan asks, "Do we give credit for these late season runs to the team 'staying the course' or perhaps to my Seahawks rally stache?
A: For the sake of everyone reading this, I won't link to any pictures of Justin's "rally stache" but if you feel like grossing yourself out, go ahead and search his twitter page. So no, Justin, your mustache is not the answer. Instead, what we're seeing this season is similar to what happened last year, with a talented team staying the course, as you put it, believing in its philosophy, and growing along the way. The offense, led by the line's turnaround, has been much better of late, but also important to the late-season improvement has been the team just finding its chemistry, something that can been hard to capture each year.
"We kept doing what we do, believing that if we kept working really hard and kept believing in one another, that we'd eventually find it," Carroll said after Sunday's win. "And we have. It's a marvelous chemistry that takes place on teams that you can sit back and watch it happen, and get frustrated and impatient and all, but we keep thinking it's going to happen, that something good is out there for us. So we keep talking that way and the hope is always alive, and when you just keep battling and hang together like we have through all the things that have happened, it's a terrific accomplishment. We're not going to take a whole lot of time to think about that right now; we'll look back at it down the road and be very appreciative."
The Seahawks returned to CenturyLink Field for their Week 15 matchup against the Cleveland Browns, with all the holiday excitement from the 12s to locker room captured by team photographer Rod Mar.