The Seahawks will return to practice Tuesday following their “mini-bye,” which followed their victory Thursday against Arizona, to begin preparing for the game next Monday against the Eagles in Philadelphia.
Got all that?
So with the team finishing its last break of the season, this is good time for another Seahawks mailbag.
Away we go.
@HillardNic asked: Is the improvement the defense made Thursday sustainable for the rest of the season?”
Answer: It certainly is for the next month, if nothing else because of the teams the Seahawks play — the Eagles, Giants, Jets and Washington Football Team.
By just about any statistical measure — traditional or advanced — those are four of the worst offensive teams in the NFL.
But let’s use two measures to make the, uh, point — points scored and yards per play.
All those opponents rank 24th or lower out of 32 teams in points per game (Eagles 24th, 22.0; Washington 29th, 20.0; Giants 30th, 19.5; Jets 32nd, 14.9); and 27th or lower in yards per play (Eagles 27th, Washington 28th, Giants 29th all at 5.0 per play as a round number per Pro Football Reference, and the Jets 32nd at 4.6).
Opponent, of course, always is an important factor, and though the Seahawks’ defense has been inexcusably bad much of the season, it also has been playing regularly against the league’s best offenses, including three against the top five, four in the top eight and seven against teams that rank in the top 16 this week in yards per play.
But now, only one of the final six games is against a team that ranks in the top 15 in offense, the Rams at 11th in yards per play.
So here’s to thinking that both because the Seattle defense is getting better with the addition of Carlos Dunlap and the return to health of Jamal Adams — among other things — and playing a steady stream of subpar offenses, that all the defensive numbers will look a lot better over the next month or so.
And how about this?
Thanks to allowing just 314 yards to Arizona on Thursday night, for the first time all season the Seahawks no longer are on pace to allow the most yards in NFL history.
Seattle is allowing 434.9 yards per game, still the worst in the NFL but below the 440.125 that is the record for most yards allowed in a season, by the 2012 Saints.
Seattle is on pace to allow the most passing yards in NFL history at 343.7 per game — the record is 299.75 by the 2011 Packers.
But going against four struggling quarterbacks — Carson Wentz, Daniel Jones, Joe Flacco and Alex Smith — the next four games should bring that down considerably.
If not, then hit the panic button again.
A: Olsen was placed on injured reserve Monday and is likely to miss the rest of the regular season after suffering a plantar-fascia foot injury against the Cardinals, having made 23 receptions for 224 yards and one touchdown — in the opener against Atlanta — after signing a one-year deal worth up to $7 million with $5.5 million guaranteed.
That obviously won’t go down as one of the bargains of the offseason.
But context is always important.
When Olsen agreed to sign with Seattle on Feb. 18, the team’s tight-end situation was far less certain.
Will Dissly was rehabbing a ruptured Achilles tendon, an injury that can always be tricky — at that point he was almost four months removed from the injury. Jacob Hollister was a restricted free agent with no guarantee he’d be back, and the NFL draft obviously had not been held yet, so Colby Parkinson wasn’t on the roster (nor was Luke Willson, who agreed to return in March).
To be sure, many at the time thought $5.5 million guaranteed seemed like a lot for a player turning 35 who now hasn’t played a full season since 2016.
But Seattle saw a chance to add a potential playmaker at a spot where there were question marks.
As for spending that money on a pass rusher, what Seattle paid Olsen had nothing to do with how it approached negotiations with defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney, to name one.
Seattle always had the cap space available to pay Clowney at the number it felt he was worth — between $15 million and $16 million per year.
Clowney wanted more, and Seattle didn’t want to go higher. That had nothing to do with what Seattle paid anyone at other positions. It was just a difference of opinion in valuation.
Seattle’s looking like it was right on that, as Clowney went on injured reserve this week because of a knee issue and has no sacks and 14 tackles in eight games with the Titans, having signed a one-year deal with Tennessee that included $11.5 million guaranteed.
@FoxHollowFilms asked: “They (the Seahawks) still haven’t scored a TD on defense or special teams or blocked a punt this year. Can we expect some impactful plays like this going forward?’’
A: I have to admit until reading this question it hadn’t really hit me that Seattle does not have a return for a touchdown this season.
Here’s some good news — history indicates Seattle will break that drought during the final six games. The Seahawks have had at least one return for a touchdown in every previous season dating to the franchise’s first year in 1976.
Seattle had three last year — interception returns by Clowney and Quandre Diggs and a fumble return by Clowney.
It’s worth noting, though, that the changes in rules on kickoff returns, in particular, have had an impact on returns for touchdowns.
Turnovers also have gone down considerably through the years — according to Pro Football Reference, 11.3% of all drives this year are ending in turnovers, which would tie for the lowest percent in NFL history.
This year there have been 38 returns for touchdowns in the NFL, or basically one per team — 18 interception, 12 fumble, four kickoff and two each of punt and blocked punts. Via PFR, those would all be at or near historic lows by NFL standards, with teams more cognizant than ever of taking care of the ball, rules that favor the offense and rules changes that make it difficult to get much in returns.
Still, as noted, Seattle did get three defensive touchdowns last year. And with the defense on an uptick and the Seahawks now playing some offenses and quarterbacks who it can fairly be said aren’t quite at the same level as most of those they’ve played, maybe Seattle can finally get a pick-six or a scoop-and-score or two (or three or four).