There’s lots to discuss in this week’s Seahawks mailbag so let’s dive right in. Thanks, as always, to those who asked questions.
Seattle’s offense is about to get a boost with the impending returns of Josh Gordon, Rashaad Penny and Greg Olsen. Here’s what I think fans should expect out of all three.
Penny – I’ve been saying since last offseason that I anticipated this being a redshirt season for Seattle’s former first-round pick. While 2020 won’t be a literal redshirt year, I still expect the Seahawks to exercise caution with Penny. A healthy Chris Carson and Carlos Hyde gives the team the ability to do so. Penny is slated to be Seattle’s starter in 2021 and ensuring his health going into the offseason takes precedence over what he can contribute this year.
Beyond that, there aren’t even that many carries to go around. Carson only has two games with more than 15 carries season, and Hyde has had less than 10 carries in half of his games. The Seahawks would have to phase Hyde out of the lineup in order for Penny to get more than a handful of reps. That changes, of course, should Carson or Hyde go down with an injury.
Gordon – Based on Pete Carroll’s comments on Wednesday, it sure sounds like he’s expecting Gordon to contribute immediately upon officially being reinstated in Week 16 against the Rams. He isn’t likely to supplant David Moore as the team’s No. 3 wideout but he should steal some reps. Expect a similar role to the one he had in 2019: 15-25 snaps with only a few targets, particularly on third down. The quality of Gordon’s receptions will likely be greater than the quantity, just like last year.
Olsen – It’s amazing that the 35-year-old tight end is practicing less than a month after tearing the plantar fascia in his left foot. Whether he returns this weekend or against the Rams in Week 16, he’ll reassume his role at the top of Seattle’s tight end rotation. Like Gordon, he still won’t see much volume in the passing game. That’s reserved for DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and, to a lesser degree, Carson. But Olsen has had some clutch grabs for the Seahawks this season, and Seattle’s offense will benefit from his reliable hands.
The Seahawks are about to need roster spots for the aforementioned trio as well as Quinton Dunbar and potentially Damontre Moore and Brian Mone.
In no particular order, here are six players who could be either cut or moved to Injured Reserve in order to make room on the roster:
-- CB Jayson Stanley -- DL Jonathan Bullard -- WR Penny Hart -- DB Damarious Randall -- RB Travis Homer (IR) -- OL Jamarco Jones (IR)
Lockett’s dip in production this season has been a bit bizarre. The emergence of DK Metcalf as a bona fide No. 1 wideout has something to do with that, but Lockett still has the same amount of targets as Metcalf (106). For whatever reason, the explosives just haven’t been there for Lockett this year.
Six of Lockett’s eight touchdowns and 300 of his 886 yards have come in two games (he had three each against Dallas and Arizona). He has posted more than 70 receiving yards in just one of his other 11 contests.
Lockett is fully healthy by all accounts, which again, makes it hard to pinpoint an exact reason as to why he has had a quieter season by his standards. It’s probably a mixture of Metcalf dominating most of Russell Wilson’s downfield targets, a deep offense with lots of mouths to feed and, potentially, a slight regression from Lockett’s explosiveness.
Still, it’s hard to argue too much as Lockett is bound to eclipse 1,000 yards for the second-straight season. His 47 first downs are also just six shy of his total last season, indicating he’s still plenty effective even when the numbers aren’t gaudy.
The Seahawks couldn’t afford Richard Sherman back in 2018, and they won’t be able to afford him now. Seattle is going to be far too cap-strained in order to pay two top dollar corners this offseason, and I don’t see the Seahawks letting Shaquill Griffin walk in favor of Sherman.
Should Brian Schottenheimer get a head coaching job somewhere, I think the Seahawks should look to San Francisco and strongly consider passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur or run game coordinator Mike McDaniel. Both coaches have been Kyle Shanahan’s top confidants for years. McDaniel goes back to Shanahan’s days in Washington in 2011.
Given that neither has play calling duties with the 49ers, both would likely jump at the chance to do so in Seattle with Russell Wilson at quarterback. Both are also well-equipped and ready to take on that responsibility. I think hiring someone from the Shanahan coaching tree would provide a skill set that would contrast Pete Carroll’s enough in order to keep Seattle’s offense as progressive as possible.
It’s hard to say that a first-round pick has surpassed expectations when he’s not a full-time player. So while I wouldn’t argue he’s been disappointing, it’s more that the jury is still out on him. Brooks has shown flashes of his touted speed and physicality. Drawing any further definitive conclusions about him would be premature.
He’ll continue to play a lot in base-heavy games while spending most of the game on the bench when Seattle is forced to use sub packages (ie. the Giants game vs. the Jets game).