Pre-training camp Seahawks mailbag

We got through some of these questions on the podcast (see above) but not all of them, so I wanted to do a mailbag piece covering the lot.

There were so many things going on last year that I’m inclined to praise Carroll. In week one Ndamukong Suh trod on Russell Wilson’s ankle and from that moment it was one thing after another. The injuries at running back, Tyler Lockett being banged up and then breaking his leg, Earl Thomas breaking his leg, Kam Chancellor and Michael Bennett missing time, Richard Sherman having a couple of meltdowns. The Seahawks had more people on injured reserve in 2016 than any other team. Despite this, they were a win against Arizona in week 16 away from a playoff bye, they won the NFC West and a wildcard game. Many other teams would’ve folded.

Wade Phillips will probably do a great job in LA because he has a proven track record. Assuming Aaron Donald doesn’t hold out for the year, his presence alone will make the Rams a tough opponent.

It’s hard to know what the 49ers will provide on defense. They look like a team that is at least a couple of years from being competent. They have high first round picks on the D-line but DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead haven’t shown to be impact linemen that take over a game and Solomon Thomas hasn’t played a snap in the league. There’s also a big question mark over how the Niners will utilise all three in a 4-3 under.

The Cardinals will surely feel the loss of Calais Campbell to the Jags. There’s a reason he’s earning $15m a year. He doesn’t have a peer. There isn’t another 6-8, 300lbs monster in the NFL.

That said, they do still have some talented defensive linemen and edge rushers. The creative blitz packages they use have given Seattle constant problems for years. As Bruce Arians so eloquently put it during the week 16 game last year, ‘we’ve dominated their offensive line for three years’. Sadly, he isn’t wrong.

All three teams have good players. Two will be well coached and the third is a mystery. On paper though, the Seahawks have enough talent on offense to offer a counter-punch. And despite some of the struggles against the Rams and Cardinals in recent years, they’ve also had some emphatic, comfortable victories.

As for Chris Carson, he’s one of the more interesting names to watch in training camp. He stood out at Oklahoma State last year. He was challenged to run with more authority and toughness and he answered the call. He fits Seattle’s size/physical profile to a tee. The running back battle in camp is going to be highly competitive. It’ll be so good in fact, hopefully they’ll be able to leave Eddie Lacy, Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise on the sidelines for the majority of the pre-season snaps.

Carson the running back is a ‘sleeper’ to monitor, so is guard Justin Roos. Mike Davis is another to watch among the running backs.

As for the former picks returning to glory — the three on the roster that qualify are Luke Joeckel, Dion Jordan and Marcus Smith. Joeckel has the best chance — he’s a presumed starter at left guard or left tackle and he’s a former #2 overall pick. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility he develops into at least a serviceable starter.

Jordan needs to get healthy and take motivation from what is possibly his last chance to have a NFL career. They scraped a season out of Big Mike Williams in 2010 so maybe they can get into Jordan. Smith has to get stronger and refine his technique. It’s hard to do in one training camp — he might get a chance to compete at the SAM spot and he’ll need to show some special teams value.

I just want to hear the coaches talk positively about him. The big concern (and the reason he dropped in the draft) was due to attitude and effort concerns. If he has a rocky start to camp does he fight back? Can he get out there and show he’s ready to be an impact pro? He has the physical talent. Hearing the coaches speak well of his attitude will be reassuring.

Roos certainly appears ready to compete with the rest of the linemen. We know that’s a wide open race, it might not be a quick process to find the five starting O-liners.

Swoopes is intriguing as a converted quarterback/gimmick player at Texas. He has the size and athleticism. He’s worth a look. Yet with Jimmy Graham, Luke Willson and Nick Vannett seemingly assured of roster spots, he’ll have to stand out fairly substantially to warrant being stashed on the 53-man roster.

There are some nice battles across the board. Who wins the backup QB job? What happens at running back and receiver? Who wins the job across from Richard Sherman? Who’s the starting SAM and which linebackers make the cut? It should be a fun camp — but I suspect my personal favourite battle to follow is going to be at running back.

Morgan has been a great servant for this team and a Pete Carroll favourite but clearly they felt it was time to move on. It’s telling that nobody else has moved to sign him. He might still return if some of the guys they’ve brought in don’t shine.

The kicker situation is a curious one. When Blair Walsh signed I think most people assumed he would be part of a competition in pre-season. Instead as time has gone on, he now looks like the undisputed starter. He still needs to win the job. If he misses kicks in the pre-season games they’ll cut him and sign someone else. But he’s essentially only competing with himself right now.

I think the slot situation could end up being Jeremy Lane’s role again but with more variation. They might use that extra DB to get Bradley McDougald or Delano Hill on the field. They seem really high on McDougald so depending on the opponent, he could end up taking snaps away as a ‘Buffalo’. It’s hard to predict right now. Lane could start outside and kick inside. Shaquill Griffin, DeAndre Elliott, Pierre Desire or Neiko Thorpe might win a job at corner or in the slot. Mike Tyson might get into the mix. It’ll be fun to watch.

Michael Wilhoite maybe has an advantage given his snaps in San Francisco but Terence Garvin and D.J. Alexander are good special teamers and that is likely to be a big factor in the final decision. Arthur Brown was a big time college recruit but his NFL career never took off in Baltimore. I think it’s likely Cassius Marsh will be on the roster in 2017. It won’t be a major shock if someone like Kache Palacio wins a job.

1. Paul Richardson
2. Germain Ifedi
3. Pierre Desir

Richardson ended the 2016 season healthy and making big plays. With Tyler Lockett possibly facing an easing-in period following his broken leg, there could be an opportunity for Richardson to continue his good form. He’s also in a contract year.

Ifedi had moments of real quality as a rookie but also many moments where you didn’t want to look. That said, he might be more at home at right tackle where his athleticism and length can be put to good use.

I went with Desir here purely as a wild-card and to make the answer a bit more interesting. There are a handful of cornerbacks all vying for a start and really any could win the job across from Sherman. Desir, however, has an interesting backstory. He joined the Seahawks practise squad last November. During the season he was offered the chance to sign with the Detroit Lions as part of their 53-man roster. He turned it down, preferring to learn Seattle’s technique and take his chance at winning a job this year with the Seahawks.

That willingness to take a chance on himself could pay off. He’s essentially been waiting since November for this opportunity, with a lot more time spent trying to master Seattle’s technique than the rookies drafted in late April. We’ll see if that gives him an edge.

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  1. Kyle

    Awesome! Thank God you are back. I’ve been checking this site damn near everyday. Hope you had a great offseason and am looking forward to this years blog. Go Seahawks!

    • Rob Staton

      Glad to be back Kyle 🙂

  2. Adog

    My breakout player this year is Alex Collins. I saw a couple of his runs last year where he looked like a marshawn lynch clone. He’s been in the system long enough to be a reliable pass blocker. So how does he get the carries with lacy and Rawls seemly ahead of him on the depth chart? Superior pass blocking and receiving out of the back field. I would not put too much faith in it with Rawls or lacy staying healthy.

  3. Seahawcrates

    Interesting responses, solid questions. I agree Richardson is prepped to fly. He was making some classic Seahawk red line catches by the end of the year. He reminded me of Tate, short but athletically hoppity. I sure hope so about Ifedi. If he sticks and matures at right tackle I see the whole line starting to gel with good competition coming up from this draft. If he is a failure, the exposure is so much more obvious at the edge and I can see a macabre dance on the deck of the Titanic trying to plug holes underneath as the season progresses and the ship sinks. For me 2016 was a half season of trauma as the coaches kept shifting and shivering at the results as they experimented too early and too often with their offensive line.

  4. KD


    Sorry, just had to be the first one to keep the SDB tradition alive for another year.

    Nice to have you and the blog back, Rob. Haven’t listened to the podcast yet since I’m saving that for tomorrow so I can chill and play some Fallout 4 while listening to my favorite Seahawks podcast after a nice breakfast.


  5. HawkFan907

    Nice to have you back Rob. Here’s hoping for a healthy and successful year. Who do you see getting more carries this year, Rawls or Lacy? It’s a good problem to have, two starter quality backs to split carries. I hope one steps up and demands the ball though.

    • Rob Staton

      I think Lacy but hopefully they can work out a nice partnership with Prosise in the mix too.

  6. All I see is 12s

    Rob, not trying to be picky, but in the podcast you mentioned that in rw’s injury, Suh stood on Wilsons ankle and that it was not the fault of the ol. Respectfully, I disagree. As I recall, suh absolutely blew by j. Webb. Also, for once, I don’t think it was a dirty play by Suh, but just an unfortunate result of a legit pressure.
    Indeed, it was a worse case scenario when ifedi hurt his ankle
    the Thursday before week one. It say a lot about Webb that we were desperately missing a rooky guard in his first start.

    • Rob Staton

      That injury was not the fault of the OL. For starters, Webb wasn’t even starting in that game. Wilson was well outside of the pocket and Suh’s foot just accidentally clipped the ankle. It was a total freak incident. We can hardly blame that on the OL.

      • Volume12

        Isn’t everything the O-lines fault and TC’s? 😉

  7. Overtime

    Here are my picks for a breakout year.

    1. George Fant. He could improve to an average NFL linemen and it would be a breakout. Aren’t we counting on it? He put in the off season work.
    2. C J Prosise. Dangerous in the open field, he flashed enough to tantalize last year. Now he just needs to stay healthy and get the touches and he will be a star in the league.
    3. Alex Collins Under utilized, this guy looks more like Beast Mode than any guy I have seen in a long while. How does he get touches? It probably comes as the unfortunate result of injury to one of the other backs. We are very deep at RB for a change.

  8. Kenny Sloth

    Thomas Rawls rocking the baller goatee at TC

    Michael Bennett and Russel Wilson sure are good at stretching…. Sure show me some Aaron Levine thats what I’m looking for

  9. Rowdy

    McDowell won’t be at camp because he got in a car accident. And doesn’t won’t to be looked at by the seahawks doctors?

    • Rowdy

      Corral apparently said he doesnt know if he will play this season. The accident happened 2 weeks ago and it sounds like they just found out about it.

      • Volume12

        Getting another DT in this years draft is paramount. Its an under the radar big time need.

        Keep an eye on NC St’s Kentavious Street. He’s a mix of Aaron Donald and Dom Easley coming out.

  10. Volume12

    ‘Why didn’t we keep LB Mike Morgan?’

    He’s reached his ceiling and potential. He’s limited. Brown, Wilhoite, Garvin, Alexander, Palacio, Marsh, Smith give them a plethora of options and some fresh bodies that are hungry to prove they belong on this D.

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