Joe Fann

5 burning questions: What we’ll learn during Seahawks camp

5 burning questions: What we’ll learn during Seahawks camp

At long last, the Seahawks will begin official training camp practices on Wednesday from the VMAC. Media will be allowed to be in attendance, and a portion of the practice will be streamed live on Seahawks.com.

We’ve been waiting months for this very moment. Seattle last took the practice field seven months ago in mid-January. That means we’ve had plenty of time to discuss each player and top storyline ad nauseum. But just in case you’ve been on a well-deserved summer vacation and need a refresher, here are the top five storylines to follow during camp.

We’ll revisit each of these five questions at the end of camp to recap how things develop over the next several weeks.

1. Who is going to start at left guard?

Mike Iupati will be given every opportunity to retain his starting job as the incumbent. Pete Carroll surely hopes Iupati will be able to stay healthy and show he’s worthy so that at least the left side of the offensive line can carry over from 2019. Carroll said in January that he didn’t want to see massive turnover up front. And yet, if Iupati gets beat out by Will Haynes, Ethan Pocic or Jordan Simmons, that will mean 80% of the offensive line will be new in 2020 with B.J. Finney at center, Damien Lewis at right guard and Brandon Shell at right tackle.

2. Who emerges from the pack at wide receiver?

We know the top three receivers will be Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf and Phillip Dorsett. The roster spots behind them are up for grabs, though. David Moore should be able to claim one even after an underwhelming 2019 season. However, he’ll have a trio of talented youngsters vying for his spot. John Ursua, Freddie Swain and hybrid receiver/tight end Stephen Sullivan are all players to watch in camp. The biggest threat to Moore’s roster spot would be the potential signing of Josh Gordon. That’s a big if at this point given Gordon is yet to be reinstated, and nobody knows if he’ll be given any additional suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse and performance enhancing substances policies.

3. Can Jordyn Brooks unseat K.J. Wright at WILL linebacker?

Both John Schneider and Carroll have opened the door for Brooks to be Seattle’s Week 1 starter at WILL linebacker. Carroll called it his clearest path to playing time. Wright, despite having offseason shoulder surgery, played well in 2019 and should be ready for the start of the 2020 season. He’ll still have to show he’s the clear-cut better option over the rookie if he’s going to retain his job. Seattle was enamored enough with Brooks to take him in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, and so it makes sense that the Seahawks would want to get him on the field immediately. Should Brooks show himself to be worthy of starting at WILL, Wright will then be relegated to SAM linebacker as he enters the final year of his contract.

4. Where will L.J. Collier fit in?

Now fully healthy from his severe ankle sprain as a rookie, Collier will have to find a home on Seattle’s defensive line. He’s touted as a player with the ability to rush the passer off the edge on base downs and from the interior in sub packages. Rasheem Green and Branden Jackson are the only players that share a similar skill set which will give Collier every opportunity to carve out a role for himself. The signing of Everson Griffen would change that, obviously, but who knows if that will ever happen. If it doesn’t, then there’s no excuse for Collier to not see a healthy number of snaps come Week 1. If he’s unable to earn such a role, the groans from fans will grow louder regarding the team’s 2019 first-rounder.

5. How will Marquise Blair, Tre Flowers and Ugo Amadi fit into the defense?

Quinton Dunbar has been removed from the Commissioner’s Exempt List after prosecution dropped his armed robbery charges due to a lack of evidence. That means, pending any suspension from the NFL, of course, that Dunbar should be starting in Week 1 opposite Shaquill Griffin. So what does that mean for Flowers? He’s still a capable corner. Can the Seahawks get creative and find a way for him to get on the field? Will he join the mix at nickel with Amadi and Blair? Could Griffin or Dunbar potentially trace their matchups into the slot from time to time? Griffin did express his desire to shadow an opponent’s best receiver this season. All of those questions make the rotation in the secondary a very intriguing storyline to follow. We likely won’t fully get the answer until Week 1, but camp should reveal some of what Seattle has up its sleeve.

Report: Seahawks CB Quinton Dunbar will not be prosecuted for armed robbery

Report: Seahawks CB Quinton Dunbar will not be prosecuted for armed robbery

The Seahawks may have just gotten back their starting corner. ESPN's Cameron Wolfe, among others, has reported that Quinton Dunbar will not be prosecuted for armed robbery due to a lack of evidence. Meanwhile, Giants defensive back DeAndre Baker has been formally charged and faces upwards of 10 years in prison if convicted. This all stems from the incident at a house party the two players attended back in May.

Dunbar is not currently with the Seahawks as he's been placed on the Commissioner's Exempt List, although he may be removed from that list in the very near future in light of Friday's news.

All of a sudden the Seahawks dream secondary will potentially become a reality with Dunbar and Shaquill Griffin at cornerback and Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs at safety. Then Seattle would have Ugo Amadi, Marquise Blair and Tre Flowers as depth pieces to deploy in sub packages.

The one wrinkle that is yet to be ironed out is whether or not anything will come from the alleged payoff that took place at Michael Grieco's office, the former attorney for Dunbar. Prosecution said it had evidence that the five individuals who provided sworn statements to the police were paid off to change their story and sign sworn affidavits that cleared Dunbar of any wrongdoing.

There's also a possibility that the NFL still decides to suspend Dunbar, but that feels unlikley without official charges being filed.

"We have been monitoring all developments in the matter which remains under review," the NFL said in a statement to NBC Sports Northwest.

This story isn't over just yet, but we may have a resolution in the coming days, one that could be very good news for Dunbar and the Seahawks.

Signing Everson Griffen or Clay Matthews would complete Seahawks offseason checklist

Signing Everson Griffen or Clay Matthews would complete Seahawks offseason checklist

Even in the wake of the Jamal Adams trade, the Seahawks still have a void along their defensive line. Seattle entered the offseason with its biggest priority being to improve the pass rush.

The team has done that to a degree, but Bruce Irvin, Benson Mayowa and a pair of rookies aren’t a lock to improve the league’s second-worst pass rush in 2019. Simply put, the Seahawks still need a premier guy or, at the very least, another proven veteran in the rotation.

NFL Network’s Mike Silver reported on Thursday that the Seahawks have moved on from their pursuit of Jadeveon Clowney and shifted their focus to Everson Griffen and Clay Matthews. Silver went as far as to say that “a move could come pretty quickly.”

As we head into the weekend, it makes sense to get ahead of this and share comprehensive thoughts as to how either player would impact Seattle’s roster.

Both players were highly productive in 2019. Griffen was a Pro Bowler in 2019 with 8.0 sacks, 24 quarterback hits and 11 tackles for loss. Matthews also managed to collect 8.0 sacks in his lone season with the Rams.

Matthews is older than Griffen (34-32) but was actually more productive on a per snap basis. According to Alistair Corp, Matthews had a pressure rate of 14.3% on 258 snaps. The benefit of Griffen, however, is his ability to rush from the inside in addition to off the edge.

Both players would take all the pressure off rookies Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson, who would then be able to be eased into the lineup over the course of the season as they got up to speed. A pass rush of Irvin, Mayowa, Jarran Reed, Adams, Rasheem Green and Matthews/Griffen should be deep enough to improve upon Seattle’s meager 28 sacks in 2019. That’s before you add in any potential impact of Taylor and Robinson. Again, the additional benefit of Griffen would be eliminating the necessity that Seattle gets anything out of L.J. Collier.

It is important to touch on Clowney real quick. Even with Silver’s report, there’s still no reason to believe that the door is completely closed on Clowney’s return to Seattle. There will always be a chance that he rejoins the Seahawks until the moment he signs with another team or flat out says that he doesn’t want to be in Seattle.

Even with players opting out around the league and team’s having some increased cap space, there’s no guarantee that any club ever meets Clowney’s demands. If the money is mostly equal across the board, Seattle arguably gives him the greatest chance to recoup his value and cash in as a free agent in 2021. The Seahawks have a vastly improved supporting cast around him at all three levels of the defense. That would likely minimize an opponent’s ability to double him. His familiarity and stated fondness for the city of Seattle, his teammates and the organization as a whole make the Seahawks a logical fit.

Clowney should remain Option A for John Schneider and Pete Carroll. However, adding Griffen or Matthews would still check the last remaining item off Seattle’s offseason to-do list and would make the Seahawks a legit Super Bowl contender.

DK Metcalf could be poised for Julio Jones-esque jump in Year 2

DK Metcalf could be poised for Julio Jones-esque jump in Year 2

Expectations are sky-high for DK Metcalf as he enters his second NFL season.

The hype is understandable, of course, following Metcalf’s standout rookie season where he posted 900 yards and seven touchdowns. Metcalf then exploded for an NFL rookie record 160 yards and a touchdown in the Wild Card round of the playoffs against the Eagles.

That’s why everyone is eager to see what kind of encore Metcalf can put together in Year 2. His pedigree, physical traits and first-year production set the table for a big step forward.

Dave “Softy” Mahler of Sports Radio 950 KJR articulated his hopes for Metcalf more specifically.

“I’ve spent a lot of time comparing DK Metcalf’s rookie year to Julio Jones’ rookie year, and the numbers are insanely similar,” Mahler said on a recent episode of the Talkin’ Seahawks Podcast.

Mahler did acknowledge that Jones missed three games due to injury as a rookie. However, there are still comparisons to be made.

Jones had a line of 54-959-8 back in 2011. Those are obviously higher per game numbers than Metcalf, but Seattle’s rookie did have a slightly higher catch percentage (58%-56.8%).

That’s not bad given Jones was the sixth-overall pick, and the Seahawks took Metcalf with the final pick of the second round (64th overall).

Jones jumped to 79 receptions for 1,198 yards and 10 touchdowns in his second season. That seems like reasonable benchmarks for Metcalf.

“That’s the kind of rise and the kind of step that I’m hoping DK Metcalf can take this year,” Mahler said.

Jones has made seven Pro Bowls and has been named All-Pro twice. He’s got five 1,400-yard seasons to his name and one more at 1,394. He remains unquestionably one of the NFL’s best wide receivers, if not the best.

Mahler wants to know if Metcalf shares that type of ceiling.

“’Does this guy have superstar potential?’ is the question,” Mahler said. “Is he going to be an elite wide receiver? Or is he going to be a Pro Bowl wide receiver. There are a lot of Pro Bowl wide receivers. Lots of guys make the Pro Bowl, but not a lot of guys are first-team All-Pro wide receivers. Not a lot of guys are generational talent wide receivers.”

Mahler has been a staple in Seattle sports media for nearly three decades. He’s a native to the Pacific Northwest and understands just how unique Metcalf is in regard to Seahawks history.

“The Seahawks have never had a guy who looks like this and runs like this,” he said.

Metcalf and the rest of the Seahawks are in the midst of the NFL’s ramp up period before official practices begin. Once practices finally begin, all eyes will be on the second-year wideout, eager to see what he has in store for Seattle’s opponents in 2020.

Seahawks claim former 49ers DB D.J. Reed off waivers

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Seahawks claim former 49ers DB D.J. Reed off waivers

The Seahawks have added a defensive back to their roster, claiming former Niner D.J. Reed off of waivers per Ian Rapoport. The 49ers waived Reed with an injury designation on Monday.

Reed tore his pectoral muscle earlier this summer while working out on his own. He likely won't be able to return until November at the earliest, and he could miss all of 2020. That makes this more of a down-the-road lottery ticket for Seattle. Reed was a valued member of the 49ers for his versatility to play corner, nickel and safety. The former Kansas State product was drafted by San Francisco in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

Reed has appeared in 31 career games (two starts) and has accumulated 54 total tackles, one sack and two passes defended. He also returned a fumbled kickoff for a touchdown in 2019 against the Cardinals.

Seattle had two open roster spots, one of which is now filled by Reed. He'll remain on the active/non-football injury list. This move likely means the Seahawks liked him coming out of college, and they now have the chance to get him in their own building.

Fann Mail: Forecasting the Seahawks rotation at defensive line and linebacker

Fann Mail: Forecasting the Seahawks rotation at defensive line and linebacker

We’re inching closer to real football as the ramp up period of 2020 training camps continues. The Seahawks continue to work out behind closed doors at the VMAC, but the first official practice could come by the middle of next week.

That means it’s the perfect time for a mailbag to go over all of Seattle’s top storylines. Once practices start, Week 1 will end up getting here in a blink.

As always, thanks to everyone who asked questions.

I don’t think the Seahawks have hid the fact that Irvin will be playing primarily, if not exclusively, at LEO. To this point, Irvin has been Seattle’s top addition to the pass rush. His value will come along the defensive line, not at SAM linebacker.

Bobby Wagner will obviously be at MIKE. Unless Jordyn Brooks shows to be completely lost in camp and a potential liability in a game, I expect him to start Week 1 at WILL. He’s Seattle’s future at that position, and it makes sense to try and get him reps as soon as possible. That would move K.J. Wright to SAM in base.

The biggest question is whether or not Wright or Brooks gets the reps at WILL in sub packages. They could theoretically rotate throughout a game, but again, as long as Brooks is showing promise, don’t expect the first-round pick to leave the field much.

Here’s my best guess for Seattle’s starting defensive line in base: Rasheem Green, Jarran Reed, Poona Ford and Benson Mayowa.

As I mentioned above, Irvin will be a staple in sub packages off the edge. Then you’ll have guys like Collier (interior), Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson who will compete to be a part of the rotation.

Jarran Reed has to be better for the Seahawks to win the NFC West. I expected him to get a short-term prove-it deal after an unproductive 2019 season. I was write about the short-term part of it, but Seattle giving Reed $23 million over two years is hardly a prove-it deal.

The Seahawks clearly believe that Reed will return to his 2018 form where he posted 10.5 sacks. The biggest question is whether or not he can produce to that level without playing alongside an elite edge rusher. Remember, Frank Clark had 13.0 sacks in 2018.

Reed has just 5.0 combined sacks in his other three seasons. The defensive line will go as he goes which means he needs a bounce back season in 2020.

My honorable mentions are Duane Brown, who Seattle desperately needs to stay healthy, and Tre Flowers, who the Seahawks are hoping can make a Year 2 to Year 3 jump similar to Shaquill Griffin.

Rasheem Green led the Seahawks with 4.0 sacks in 2019, and he’s still just 23 years old. This will be the year where he shows whether his ceiling is as a rotational piece or if he can be something more. Seattle would be ecstatic if Green can get to the 6.0-sack range in 2020.

I have a hard time figuring out fair expectations for Collier after what was essentially a red shirt year as a rookie. I think it’s fairer to put the baseline at merely earning reps and then going from there. The Seahawks believe he has legit pass rush ability, both off the edge in base and on the interior in sub packages. The cause for concern over Collier will be legit if he can’t crack the rotation immediately.

I’ll put it at 25%. I maintain that Jadeveon Clowney’s best chance to recoup his value and cash in as a free agent in 2021 is with the Seahawks. I understand if he has frustrations from being on an island last season and dropping into coverage more than he would have preferred. However, the overall depth and quality of Seattle’s defensive line is vastly superior to what it was in 2019, and the addition of Jamal Adams would help Clowney as well.

Who knows how players opting out and increased cap space for some teams will impact Clowney’s offers. That’s the wildcard of this saga that makes me believe nothing is imminent. He might not sign until Labor Day Weekend.

I think it’s possible that Seattle will sign an edge rusher, a defensive tackle and/or a cornerback. Quinton Dunbar being placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List makes corner arguably Seattle’s biggest need. Outside of Shaquill Griffin and Tre Flowers, I’m not sure the Seahawks have a guy they’d feel comfortable starting on the outside. Signing a veteran for depth purposes and injury protection would make sense.

Cedric Ogbuehi and Jamarco Jones will compete to be the backup tackles. Ogbuehi is the favorite to assume George Fant’s role as the tackle-eligible player that Seattle loves to utilize. However, the Seahawks could use that role less in 2020 depending on how often they run two tight end sets with Will Dissly and Greg Olsen.

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Ugo Amadi should be Seattle’s nickel corner depending on the matchup. If an opposing offense has a prototype slot receiver, like Trent Taylor in San Francisco, then Amadi would be the ideal matchup. Amadi’s reps should vary on a game-to-game basis because of that. Marquise Blair figures to be the one rotating with Amadi based on matchup.

Sadly, Joe Fann is a long-tormented Mariners fan. All of my fingers are crossed that Jared Kelenic and Julio Rodriguez turn into superstars!

Pete Carroll sheds light on potential roles for Jordyn Brooks, Marquise Blair

Pete Carroll sheds light on potential roles for Jordyn Brooks, Marquise Blair

The slow ramp up for NFL training camps means there will be a slow ramp up for camp-related news as well. Pete Carroll indicated that things won’t really feel like football until around Aug. 14. Until then, players will be working out and getting in shape given the absence of an in-person offseason program.

That means we still have some time to wait until we get open practices and detailed reports as to who is playing well and who is playing where. However, Carroll was kind enough to shed some light as to where a few of the team’s intriguing young players might line up in 2020: second-year safety Marquise Blair and first-round pick Jordyn Brooks.

Blair

Last time Carroll spoke, he mentioned that Blair could be in the mix at nickel corner. It appears that spot might be Blair’s only shot to get on the field (or maybe dime linebacker) following the addition of Jamal Adams.

Carroll sounded confident in Blair’s ability to adapt to the role and eager to see Blair, Adams and Quandre Diggs all on the field at the same time.

“For the most part we have to figure out Marquise,” Carroll said. “He’s going to get the opportunity to get out against the slot and do some stuff that puts him in a position to be really active and be part of the pressure packaging and some real aggressive part of the play. So that’s cool for him.”

Blair and Ugo Amadi could share the nickel job with their reps determined by each week’s matchup. Blair would be the better matchup against tight ends and bigger wideouts while Amadi would be more favorable against more prototype slot receivers.

Blair appeared in 14 games (three starts) as a rookie and posted 32 tackles, two forced fumbles and one pass defended.

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Brooks

Carroll raved about how the rookie could play all three linebacker spots in Seattle’s 4-3 defense but added that Brooks will get reps at WILL to begin camp.

“His clearest path– his most obvious path would be at the WILL backer spot,” Carroll said. “We’ll see how that goes. We’ll start him there and see how fast he can grasp it and how soon he can become comfortable.”

That job, of course, has been K.J. Wright’s for the last decade. Wright had offseason shoulder surgery but should be ready for the start of the season. Brooks is the future at WILL but him unseating Wright immediately would be a significant storyline. That would suggest Wright moving to SAM. If you continue to track the ripple effect, Bruce Irvin’s reps would then seemingly be limited to the LEO spot on pass rush downs.

Carroll said the coaching staff has ways to get all four linebackers (Bobby Wagner included) on the field at the same time.

“There options for how we can do that that we worked out,” Carroll said. “The competition will settle it. The competition will tell us what we need to do here.”

Seattle Seahawks make or break players in 2020: TE Will Dissly

Seattle Seahawks make or break players in 2020: TE Will Dissly

(This series focuses on the x-factors/wildcards on the Seahawks roster who will make or break Seattle’s 2020 season.)

There’s no denying what Will Dissly is capable of when healthy. He’s scored six touchdowns in the eight games in which he hasn’t gotten hurt. The issue, of course, is that he’s suffered a pair of devastating injuries in his other two games.

As a rookie, he ruptured his patella tendon. In 2019, after what was a remarkable return to make it back by Week 1, he tore his Achilles in Week 6.

Now Dissly’s status for the start of the season in uncertain once again. However, Pete Carroll provided positive news on Monday, saying that Dissly has once again made a fantastic recovery and has already passed a physical.

“Will had an incredible offseason,” Carroll said via Zoom. “He worked out down in Los Angeles. The group he worked out with told me he spent nine months with them – nine months working out on a rigid schedule, and he didn’t miss one minute of one day. They said they’ve never seen anybody do that before.”

The Seahawks will still ease Dissly back into things, and they have the ability to exercise that patience with the offseason addition of Greg Olsen. The veteran tight end is confident that he’s still got high-level football left in him, as is Seattle. Olsen’s presence makes the Seahawks less desperate to get Dissly on the field.

Dissly’s eventual return gives Seattle a really intriguing set of skill players at Russell Wilson’s disposal in the passing game. A two tight end set featuring Dissly, Olsen, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett has juggernaut potential. Those four should keep any one of them from getting too many double teams.

Wilson has already shown he trusts Dissly immensely in the red zone given his six career scores. However, the third-year tight end out of Washington also has sneaky explosive play ability. He’s stretched the field on a number of occasions with receptions of 66 yards and 38 yards.

If he’s able to get back and remain on the field upon his return, we could be mentioning Dissly alongside the league’s best tight ends by season’s end.

Jamal Adams calls joining Bobby Wagner, Seahawks defense a ‘cheat code’

Jamal Adams calls joining Bobby Wagner, Seahawks defense a ‘cheat code’

On Wednesday, Bobby Wagner told reporters about a Jordan Brand trip to Monaco in which he and Adams discussed the potential of playing together someday. A day later, Adams recalled the same conversation in his first presser with Seattle media.

“He’s all about ball, and I respect that so much about him,” Adams said of Wagner. “He’s a hell of a leader.”

Adams wasn’t bashful about taking things a step further.

“Bobby is a hell of a guy. We talked about it a while back saying, ‘What if we played together?’ How I would describe us linking up and me being a part of Seattle is it’s a cheat code,” Adams said. “It’s really a cheat code.”

A cheat code, huh? That sounds like a massive step forward for a defense that ranked 18th in DVOA, 22nd in points allowed and 26th and total yards allowed last season. The only thing that kept Seattle’s defense from being a complete liability was the fact that it ranked third with 32 takeaways.

There is reason to believe that Adams, while maybe not being a literal cheat code that vaults the Seahawks defense to an elite status, can provide a sizeable boost that gets the group into the top half of the league.

The safety is already a bona fide superstar and has made the Pro Bowl in two of his first three seasons while being named All-Pro once. His impact should be felt on all three levels of the defense: His pass rush ability (he had 6.5 sacks in 2019) will buoy the defensive line, he should free up Wagner in the middle of the field given the attention he’ll command and Quandre Diggs should be the benefactor of a few tipped passes as a result of Adam’s play in front of him.

How Adams is used and what the degree of his impact will ultimately be is sure to be one of Seattle’s top storylines when the regular season rolls around.

Seattle Seahawks make or break players in 2020: DL L.J. Collier

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Seattle Seahawks make or break players in 2020: DL L.J. Collier

(This series focuses on the x-factors/wildcards on the Seahawks roster who will make or break Seattle’s 2020 season.)

There will be a contingent of fans who roll their eyes at the mere sight of this headline. That faction has already written off the Seahawks 2019 first-round pick.

While I’ve maintained all offseason that you can’t label anyone a “bust” after just one year, it’s not like Collier offered any reasons for optimism as a rookie. He played in 11 games, recorded just three tackles and was a healthy scratch seven times (including both playoff games) in what ended up being essentially a redshirt year.

“That’s a curious situation for a first-round pick at the team’s most needy position,” Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News Tribune said on a recent episode of the Talkin’ Seahawk Podcast. “They have to get more out of him if they’re going to go anywhere.”

To Collier’s credit, he suffered an unusual ankle sprain at the onset of training camp last summer and was never truly able to get back to full speed. But to reiterate Bell’s point, it was a bit bizarre that Collier couldn’t even crack the gameday 46-man roster.

The Seahawks pass rush was notably awful in 2019, and injuries made it a thin group along the defensive line. One would think that even Collier at 70-80%, given his draft stock, could have provided even a small boost.

And yet, it was apparent that Collier wasn’t part of each week’s gameplan when he was seen getting extra work in after practice with the practice squad players.

“They couldn’t afford a redshirt year on the defensive line and pass rush, certainly not from their first-round pick,” Bell said.

Both Collier and John Schneider have said the right things this offseason. But the jury remains very much out on whether or not Collier will be able to make an impact in 2020. That said, the Seahawks defensive line is expected to utilize a deep rotation and so there are snaps to be earned if he can bounce back with an impressive training camp.