You had Seahawks questions; we have answers. John Boyle
The Seahawks wrapped up their 2021 season in impressive fashion, winning in Arizona over the playoff-bound Cardinals a week after a dominant win over the Lions. But while that was a nice way to finish out the season, a 7-10 mark and missing the playoffs was hardly up to the team's standards that have been set over the last decade, making this an important offseason for a franchise looking to bounce back from its first losing season in a decade. With that in mind, it's time to open up the mailbag and answer questions from you, the fans. As always, thanks to everyone who took the time to send in questions, and apologies if I wasn't able to get to yours this time around.
@DanCohen17 asks, "Based on available cap space plus the weird and wonderful world of behind-the-scenes NFL team running, how likely is it that the Seahawks could re-sign Quandre Diggs, Rashaad Penny, D.J. Reed, Duane Brown and Al Woods?"
A: The Seahawks have several starters and key players who are set to become free agents when the new league year begins in March, and the five you list are indeed some of the most significant on that list. I can't begin the handicap the likelihood of each player re-signing, but Seahawks coach Pete Carroll did say on Monday that one of the team's offseason priorities is keeping as much of their team intact as they can, so a strong effort will be made to keep those players, and several others. The Seahawks have a pretty decent amount of cap space heading into the offseason, and teams can always create more if they need to, so it's definitely feasible to keep most if not all of those players you mention, though again, I'm not in the predication business.
Every player you listed has said at some point in recent weeks that they hope to be back, and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll has said they'd like to have those players back, so there is mutual interest in running it back. Of course there's a difference between wanting a player back and being willing/able to match the highest offer depending on what happens in free agency, so that mutual interest doesn't always guarantee a free-agent re-signing, but it's always a good place to start.
@akgrl33 asks, "What was your favorite play of the season?"
A: Two words: Double punt!
Or, if you're looking for a more traditional play, I think my favorite was Russell Wilson's touchdown pass to Freddie Swain in Seattle's Week 4 win over the 49ers, a play that saw Wilson spin away from a blitzing defensive back, run away from Nick Bosa, then fire a perfect strike, on the run, to Swain in the corner of the end zone. It was an absolutely vintage Wilson play that combined his escapeability with a ridiculously good throw while on the move.
@ThatWiiMaster asks, "I know it's super early for this, but now that we know all of the Seahawks' 2022 opponents, what's a matchup that catches your eye?
A: You are correct that it's early, and it's hard to know what matchups will be best both because A. we don't know what kind of moves a team will make between now and next season, and B. there are teams every year that are good one year and take a step back the next, or that struggle one year and turn into a playoff team the next year. So a team that looks like an exciting matchup now could be far less attractive in 10 or 11 months, or a team that doesn't seem too interesting now could be a contender by next fall.
Outside of the NFC West games, which are almost always entertaining and close, one that intrigues me on the home schedule, depending on what happens this offseason, is the game against Denver Broncos. Not only is Denver a former AFC West rival, adding a little something to it for longtime fans of the teams, but they're also a talented team still trying to sort out their quarterback situation, so if they were to make a big move this offseason via trade or free agent signing, they could suddenly be a very legit contender.
Also, if K.J. Wright were to stick around with the Raiders for another season, that would be an incredible scene if an all-time great Seahawk were to come back for a game at Lumen Field with another team.
On the road schedule, the Buccaneers obviously are an exciting team these days, having won the Super Bowl last year, and if the ageless Tom Brady comes back in 2022, they'll surely be among the NFC's elite again. The Seahawks also play in Kansas City against Patrick Mahomes and company, and the last time the Seahawks and Chiefs played in 2018, Mahomes and Russell Wilson put on a show in an eventual 38-31 Seahawks win.
Though if a fan is asking this because they want to know which road game to attend, the answer is New Orleans, for so many reasons that have nothing to do with the game itself.
@Mark Burggren from Condor, Alberta asks, "Have the Seahawks considered hiring Adrian Peterson as the running back's coach for the 2022 season? His effect on the running backs the last few games of the season has been profound, in my opinion."
A: The Seahawks already have a running backs coach in Chad Morton, and Peterson said Monday he still hopes to play in 2022, so the exact scenario you're outlining is unlikely. That being said, you are correct that Peterson did have a big impact in his short time in Seattle (we had an article on this very topic on Seahawks.com this week), so much so that Carroll brought up the idea of coaching to Peterson, a conversation that Peterson made him consider that as a post playing-career possibility for the first time.
It is always worth pointing out in these situations that not all players who might make great coaches actually want to do so. Coaching, especially the type of entry-level jobs most new coaches take to get a foot in the door with an NFL team, are a real grind, and relative to what a player of Peterson's caliber makes as a player, those jobs don't pay incredibly well either. None of that is to say that Peterson can't or won't be a great coach, but rather that just because he may make a great coach, that doesn't guarantee he'll pursue it.
@sp_da_man asks, "Best non-Pearl Jam song on the Singles soundtrack? Has to be either Seasons by Chris Cornell or Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns by Mother Love Bone, right?
A: Oh man, this is such a tough question. I listened to this album so damn much in my younger days, and good call eliminating the Pearl Jam songs if only to make it harder on me to choose, because State of Love and Trust would be the winner if we're including the Pearl Jam options.
I think I might give the slightest edge to seasons, which is such a beautiful song that shows off the late Chris Cornell's talents and range so well, but Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns is another great song by a band that unfortunately didn't get to reach its full potential due to Andy Wood's untimely death. And as most Pearl Jam fans know, the band helps keep Mother Love Bone's legacy alive by covering that song on occasion, and it's a treat to see live when they do.
Would by Alice In Chains is another great song and a good choice to kick off an album, and I'm also a fan of just about anything Jimi Hendrix, so I like May This Be Love's inclusion in there as well.
@veschb asks, "The season was such a roller coaster, it's hard for me to get a feel for what are our greatest strengths and where we need to make improvements. Can you shed some light on this?"
A: Roller coaster is a fair assessment, and you're correct that the ups and downs of this season made it a little tough to get a good feel for this year's team. But when you talk strengths, I'll always point to Russell Wilson first, because when you've got a Hall of Fame caliber quarterback, you've got a leg up on most of the league, particularly when he has weapons like DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett at his disposal. And yes, this was an up-and-down year for Wilson and the entire offense, in no small part due to his injury, an absence that only compounded whatever growing pains were likely going to be inevitable for an offense adjusting to a new coordinator in Shane Waldron. But give me a full season of Wilson, Metcalf, Lockett and company working together, based off what we saw late in the season, and I'll take my chances against just about any team. And that's especially true if the Seahawks can pickup where they left off with the running game. No, they're not going to get 170-plus yard games out of Rashaad Penny every week, but if they're running the ball effectively, that's only going to help the entire offense be more efficient and more explosive.
On the other side of the ball, I really like what I saw out of the entire secondary once Seattle got settled at cornerback, and before Jamal Adams got hurt he was playing some of his best football in his two seasons with the Seahawks. Obviously there's free-agent decisions to make on Quandre Diggs, D.J. Reed and Sidney Jones IV, but if the Seahawks can bring most or all of that secondary back, that's a very strong secondary. Linebacker play was also a big plus with Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks both putting up huge numbers, and contributing to a great effort from the defensive line when it comes to run defense, with the Seahawks holding opponents to just 3.8 yards per carry, the second best mark in the league.
As for things that need to improve, Carroll pointed to the pass rush, which showed some flashes, particularly from Carlos Dunlap II, Darrell Tylor and Rasheem Green, but that didn't produce enough sacks and pressure on a consistent basis, with the Seahawks ranking tied for 22nd in the league with 34 sacks. And as Carroll has noted on a number of occasions, a good pass rush is the best way to create turnovers, and the Seahawks weren't great in that area either this year, ranking 25th with 18 takeaways.
On offense, the Seahawks need to be better on third down, or at least more consistent. If they can look like they did over the final two weeks, they'll be fine, but before that Seattle was last in the league in third-down conversion rate, which also led to ranking last in time of possession and in total offensive plays run. That not only makes it hard to sustain drives and score points, it also puts a burden on the defense. But again, we saw what the offense can be late in the season, so if the Seahawks can make the necessary improvements in the offseason to look more like that offense more often, they should be pretty dangerous in 2022.
@CarsonSchroer asks, "Is it possible the Seahawks bring Penny back but purposely don't overwork him by pairing him with another RB1 like Chris Carson if he's back or someone else?
A: First off, Carroll has talked all along like Chris Carson will be able to return from his neck injury, so if that indeed is the case, I think the scenario you lay out is what would be ideal for Carroll: Penny and Carson are dual No. 1 backs who split a workload pretty evenly. Obviously we saw over the last month and a half that Penny is more than capable of being a high-level lead back, but for the sake of longevity, it would probably be ideal if he and Carson could split, say, 25 to 30 carries between them to keep both fresh. Obviously, it might not be an even split from game to game-one player could have the hot hand in a particular game and get more work, or one might be banged up a particular week-but having two high-end backs like Penny and Carson to split the load over the course of the season would be ideal.
@cosmicoho asks, "Can a player be on the roster but not active in a given week, and do they still get a game check if they are inactive?"
A: This is a good question because I think too often people like me, who deal with roster stuff all the time, don't remember that some fans understandably aren't up on all the roster rules, which at times can be really complicated.
As a refresher, teams have 53 players on their roster-this doesn't include the practice squad, which can have up to 16 players-but on game day only 48 players can be active for the game, hence the inactive lists you see that come out 90 minutes before kickoff. If a player on the 53 is inactive, yes, he still gets his game check. Where the difference can come in is that some players have incentives in their contracts in which bonuses are tied to games in which they're active, in which case an inactive player would lose out on that portion of pay, but not their base salary.