Seahawks

Fann Mail: Why Brian Schottenheimer has the traits to be a successful NFL head coach

Seahawks

It’s time for this week’s Seahawks mailbag. There were a number of fantastic questions sent in on Twitter, and I tried to get to as many as possible while keeping the length of this palatable.

Thanks, as always, to those who submitted questions.

There is absolutely cause for concern in Seattle’s secondary, especially given the expectation going into the season that it would be one of the Seahawks greatest strengths. The group has been a complete liability thus far, setting a regrettable record for the most passing yards allowed through three games in NFL history.

The Seahawks have allowed 18 pass plays of 20+ yards and six pass plays of 40+ yards. Both of those numbers lead the league, and by comparison, there are six teams who are yet to allow a single pass play of 40+ yards.

It’s pretty inexplicable given the level of talent in the group. Shaquill Griffin, Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs are all proven commodities. So why has it been so bad? Griffin said it’s a mix of busted coverages and just flat getting beat 1-on-1. Coaching plays a part in it as well, but the Seahawks didn’t overhaul their scheme from one year to the next. Part of it could be that Adams is blitzing so much, but again, that’s no excuse for the number of explosive plays Seattle has allowed. Seattle desperately needs improvements from its entire back seven when it comes to pass defense.

I don’t buy into this narrative at all. The Seahawks have won the time of possession battle in all three games so far. Beyond that, it’s not like the defense is habitually having to grind out long drives. The group’s biggest bugaboo has been the big play, as noted above. Two of Dallas’ touchdown drives lasted less than 50 seconds and spanned at least 75 yards. That has nothing to do with fatigue.

 

Pete Carroll confirmed that Shaquem Griffin would play again in Week 4 against the Dolphins. “He earned it,” Carroll said on Monday. He did indeed. Griffin had a pass breakup, a quarterback hit and a tackle for loss against Dallas. He was all over the field on the Cowboys final drive of the game.

Seattle can flex him up from the practice squad one more time without having to subject him to waivers. It’s more likely that he’s given an active roster spot this week instead. The Seahawks currently have one open roster spot that was vacated by Rasheem Green moving to IR. It’s also possible that Quinton Dunbar (knee) and/or Jordyn Brooks (knee) goes on IR this week as well. The moral of the story is that it shouldn’t be a problem finding space for Griffin.

Defensive tackle Damon Harrison and defensive back Damarious Randall are making a visit to Seattle this week. They are the only ones reported for an official visit thus far. Given the injuries and overall struggles on the Seahawks defense, it does seem inevitable that the team will need to bring in outside reinforcements at some point. For now, though, Seattle continues to roll with what they’ve got. If Ryan Neal, Ugo Amadi, Alton Robinson and Shaquem Griffin can continue to play well, maybe the Seahawks are right in thinking the best answers are the in-house options.

The Seahawks offensive line is vastly improved this season. Just go back to the Cowboys game and look at Russell Wilson’s first touchdown pass to Tyler Lockett and the game-winner to DK Metcalf. Wilson had all day long for the routes to develop downfield.

ESPN’s Seth Walder shared on Tuesday that Seattle has the second-biggest improvement in pass block win rate compared to 2019. There have been 15 plays in which every blocker sustained their block for a full four seconds. On those plays, Russell Wilson is 7-of-8 passing for 120 yards and two touchdowns.

The early returns on Brandon Shell and Damien Lewis have been immensely positive. Ethan Pocic and Mike Iupati have also been impressive. As long as Duane Brown stays healthy, the offensive line should remain the biggest pleasant surprise of 2020. That group deserves a ton of credit for Seattle’s prolific start offensively.

It feels like a long shot, but anything is possible when you win Super Bowls. Brian Schottenheimer’s move to the coach’s booth has been a revelation for the Seahawks, and he’s deserving of his share of the credit for the offense’s hot start.

 

His ability to see the full field has assuredly been a benefit to Wilson. That vantage point allows him to make real-time observations that impact his play calling later in games. DK Metcalf’s long reception on a slant and go in Week 1 was a direct result of Schottenheimer seeing Atlanta’s corners bite hard on slants earlier in that game.

What would make Schottenheimer a successful head coach is his leadership and demeanor. He’s proven to be a quality X’s and O’s mind, but a head coach’s biggest responsibility is establishing culture and getting buy-in from players. It doesn’t matter how impressive your schemes are if you can’t do those things. I truly believe that Schottenheimer would do those things well.

I’ve always appreciated his temperament with the media, even when faced with hard questions. He’s not a guy who gets too high or too low, and his players seem to love him. His resume with Wilson gives him immediate credibility upon taking the reins of a new organization.

Do I think it ultimately happens? No, probably not. There will always be a pipeline of young coaches who will get the first crack. But as I said above, that could change with a Super Bowl win. I should add that I have no idea whether or not Schottenheimer wants to be a head coach some day. He may be perfectly fine being an offensive coordinator, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. This response was merely to point out that I think he's qualified.

This is a fantastic question, one I don’t have a good answer for. It was bizarre when Alton Robinson was a healthy inactive for the first two weeks. That decision looks even more ridiculous now that he played so well in his NFL debut. Robinson showed up consistently against the Cowboys with regular disruption and a clutch sack in the game’s final minutes.

The Seahawks could have kept him down because they didn’t think he was ready. Or that they wanted to ease him into things. Whatever the reason, it was a foolish decision in hindsight. The good news is that Robinson will have a big role moving forward and could limit the impact of Bruce Irvin’s season-ending injury.

Lano Hill (back) should return in time to start in Week 4 in place of Adams. If not, expect Ryan Neal to get the start. Like Griffin, Neal has also earned another opportunity following his game-saving interception against Dallas.

When DeeJay Dallas finally gets a few touches, I think we may end up having the same conversation with him as we did with Robinson. Why wasn’t this guy getting the ball sooner?

I expect Seattle to exercise extreme caution with Chris Carson (knee), and I’d be shocked if he played in Week 4. That’s obviously means Carlos Hyde and Travis Homer will see an uptick in usage, but hopefully that also means we get to see Dallas for the first time. Like Robinson, Dallas had a fantastic camp.

 

Sadly, despite being an ideal height at 6-foot-3, my lack of any semblance of lateral quickness, acceleration or speed of any kind keeps me from being an option for the Seahawks at corner.

This is an interesting question. Until I started covering the Seahawks, I’d only ever covered awful teams. The Titans went 2-14 when I covered them in 2014, and the 49ers were awful from 2015-18 apart from a five-game stretch at the end of the 2017 season with Jimmy Garoppolo.

That would indicate that I’m bad luck, especially given the 49ers going to the Super Bowl in the first season after I got off that beat. However, Seattle has been pretty darn good since I started covering the team in 2019. So I suppose, surprisingly enough, that my presence has no impact on the team’s success, good or bad.