It’s the final Seahawks mailbag of 2020! Don’t worry. We’ll keep it going into the playoffs and offseason. But, for one last time in this calendar year, your Seahawks questions are answered (or, attempts are made, anyway).
Q: @Rainchild33082 asked: Do you believe in life after love? I can feel something inside myself. I really don’t think I’m strong enough oh! Also, how do you feel about the Snacks release?
A: I wish you hadn’t felt the need to “Cher” the first part of that question (but the answer, pulling out the Pete Carroll-optimistic side of me, is “yes.”)
As for Harrison, I was surprised when I heard the news Sunday morning, that Damon “Snacks” Harrison had requested his release. It’s difficult for a player who just four years ago was a first-team All-Pro selection to be told he is now the fourth-best at his position on his team — Harrison was going to be inactive behind Jarran Reed, Poona Ford and Bryan Mone.
Not playing is no fun.
But there could be upcoming games in which the Seahawks want a fourth defensive tackle to be active. Seattle played a lot of nickel and dime defense Sunday against the Rams. Of their 75 defensive snaps, just 28 were in a base defense, which is when Harrison would mostly have played.
Mone played 26 snaps, rotating in behind Reed (53) and Ford (43).
But that could change, and it would take one injury and Harrison could suddenly again have a significant role.
Harrison, 32, has played in only one playoff game (in 2016 with the Giants). He had said being with a team that had a shot at a playoff run was a priority.
The Seahawks undoubtedly thought Harrison would stick it out, and I thought he would, too.
But Seattle has gotten good play out of its tackle rotation all season. Reed has 6.5 sacks, Ford is the 13th-ranked tackle this week by Pro Football Focus, and Mone has the 46th best run-defense grade by PFF out of 137 defensive tackles.
I think the Seahawks think Mone offers more as a pass rusher than Harrison, which is why he was ahead of him in the rotation. Harrison had zero hurries in 77 pass-rush snaps, via PFF, and Mone has six in 113, including a sack.
Even though I thought Harrison might be inactive for the game given that Seattle has gone with just three defensive tackles much of the season, I didn’t think we’d seen the last of Harrison on the field. But that’s where we are.
Seattle’s waiving of Harrison didn’t become official until Tuesday. Whether he gets claimed by another team won’t be known until Wednesday. If he goes unclaimed he would be a free agent.
Q: @ToddBow14065980 asked: It seems like Jacob Hollister always gets talked about last & the other tight ends get more attention. There was also talk of cutting him before the season. But Hollister seems to make more plays than the others. Is this just me?
A: Hollister has become a significant factor the second half of the season. He has 19 of his 24 receptions in the past eight games, with touchdowns in each of the past two. But one reason he’s played more of late was the plantar fascia foot injury that knocked Greg Olsen out for four games. Hollister became the No. 2 tight end behind Will Dissly once that happened.
Hollister has played well enough that the team will look to keep getting him snaps even though Olsen is back. Olsen played just 12 snaps against the Rams and could continue to see fewer snaps than usual the next few games to not overburden the foot.
The main reason people discussed Hollister being released was his contract offered one of the easier ways to save significant money with a player not projected to be a starter — $3.259 million, none guaranteed, meaning a saving of all $3.2 million against the cap. With Seattle having a deep tight-end corps, especially after drafting Colby Parkinson, Hollister was an obvious place to look for cap space.
But Parkinson’s injury in June changed things. I think it was clear at that point he was going to make the team as the third tight end behind Olsen and Dissly, who was coming off an Achilles injury.
One potential danger in assessing tight ends is to look solely at receiving stats. Though Dissly has not put up the receiving numbers of his first two years (on a per-game basis, anyway), part of that is because the team has asked him to do far more blocking. Seattle needed more blocking from its tight ends this year with the departure of George Fant.
Of Dissly’s 508 snaps this year, 411 have been as an inline tight end, far more than any other tight end on the roster. His pass-blocking grade is also the best of the tight ends, via Pro Football Focus and he has been kept in as a blocker 305 times.
Of Hollister’s 333 snaps, 144 have come inline and he’s been used as a blocker in 164. So, somewhat different roles and expectations.
But no doubt, the past few weeks have proven the team made a good call to keep Hollister and will have another tough decision in the offseason. With Olsen likely playing his final season, I think the Seahawks will try hard to keep Hollister. But business is business.
Q: @MommaC51026023 asked: Is Luke Willson coming back?
A: He just may be. The Seahawks released two players off their practice squad Tuesday — defensive tackle Myles Adams and cornerback DeMarkus Acy.
That, obviously, opens two spots.
And as it turns out, Willson and linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong visited the Seahawks over the weekend, according to a report from ESPN’s Field Yates.
Willson, who played in five games for Seattle this year before being released once Parkinson was healthy and active, was released by the Ravens on Dec. 19, Armstrong was released by Seattle this month after playing in two games and has not played since.
So, there’s pretty good chance Willson and Armstrong fill those two spots, especially with the news Tuesday that during the postseason there will be no limit on how many times a player can be elevated off the practice squad. Armstrong, for instance, had reached the limit of two elevations, which probably played into why Seattle released him after the Jets game.
But now he could return and be elevated for every playoff game. Same with Willson.
Techno Thursday didn’t die with Willson’s release. But it could get some renewed life this week.
Q: @Yumasmainsqueez asked: Which do you think is more important — playing everyone full on next week for the higher seed, or resting players and being fresh for whoever you meet in round one?
A: To me there’s no debate — you have to go for the NFC’s top playoff seed. Getting the top seed is like winning a playoff game, with the added bonus of also knowing you will play at home and against the lowest remaining seed in the second round.
And Seattle’s road to get it really isn’t THAT outlandish — a win against the 49ers in Arizona and losses by the Packers against the Bears and Saints against Carolina. Sure, it’s not high percentage. But it’s probable enough to go into this game playing things straight up and see what happens.
The Seahawks can always adjust during the game if they see that the Packers or Saints have a big lead.
Seattle will make sure to rest key players enough during the weeks of practice, as well.
So, go for it.