Questions about Shaquem Griffin, the tight-end position and Russell Wilson’s run for the record books included in the Seahawks mailbag this week.
Question: @mmento asked: “Noticed a significant drop in playing time for Shaquem against San Francisco, thought (coach) Pete (Carroll) spoke positively about his performance against Arizona, any thoughts?”
Answer: You are correct in the drop in snaps for Griffin against the 49ers. In fact, it was the biggest drop possible, going from 40 snaps against Arizona to zero against the 49ers.
Griffin’s 40 snaps against the Cardinals were the most he has received in a game in his new role as an edge rusher (he also was used as a spy on quarterback Kyler Murray).
Griffin had one tackle in the game but no quarterback hits or hurries, and he did not grade out particularly well via Pro Football Focus at 48.1.
I thought Carroll’s comments afterward about Griffin were more mixed than positive.
During his radio show on ESPN 710 Seattle the day after the game, Carroll said, “He did OK. He didn’t play poorly. He didn’t have any plays that stood out. I would like to see him smack the QB here a few times when he’s running around.”
That Griffin played so much against Arizona was why Alton Robinson played so little, getting just seven snaps.
But Carroll said they wanted Griffin’s speed to use against Murray, who has been the leading rushing quarterback in the NFL this season.
The plan against the Niners was different — get after Jimmy Garoppolo as often as possible while also containing their running game. Robinson got the start in place of injured Benson Mayowa at the LEO spot and earned raves from Carroll in charting three tackles, one sack and two hurries in 47 snaps.
Seattle also used rookie Stephen Sullivan on 22 snaps against the 49ers helping fill in at the rush-end spot.
All of that could seem somewhat ominous for Griffin, who was on the field for just four special-teams snaps on the punt team against the 49ers.
While he had a nice game against Dallas in Week 3 to earn a spot on the 53-player roster, his production hasn’t been overly obvious since then — he has two tackles for the season and no sacks, and he has two pressures for the season according to Pro Football Reference.
That he doesn’t have a huge special-teams role — 16 snaps this season — could make Griffin vulnerable at some point if the team needs a roster spot.
But you can expect the Seahawks will exhaust every option to try to best utilize Griffin’s speed.
Q: @Twochris1 asked: “There was so much hope for our tight end group and the signing of Greg Olsen this spring, but so far this group has been pretty quiet. How would Pete rate the tight end production?”
A: I think Carroll is fine with it. As he noted Monday when asked specifically about Olsen, there are only so many balls to go around.
Seattle is third in the NFL in passing yards, and DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are on pace to have monster seasons of 1,300 yards or more.
That makes it hard for anyone else to really stick out a lot.
“One guy gets 20 targets one week (Lockett against Arizona), and the next week one guy gets 15 targets (Metcalf against the 49ers),” Carroll said. “The ball doesn’t get spread as much when those games happen like that.”
Carroll on Monday also cited the blocking of Will Dissly as key against the 49ers and noted he’s blocked well all season — Pro Football Focus has Dissly rated as the 11th-best run-blocking tight end this season — all of which is a good reminder that a tight end’s value is more than just receiving.
And as has become evident, the Seahawks have basically scrapped their six-offensive lineman package now that George Fant is no longer around, meaning they are counting on the tight ends to do more of the perimeter blocking. Dissly has been an inline tight end on 194 of 321 snaps this season, according to Pro Football Focus, and has been used there increasingly the past two games, with 39 inline snaps against Arizona and 35 vs. the 49ers.
But you are correct in noting that the receiving numbers of the tight ends are not what might have been expected, and especially from Olsen, who signed a one-year deal worth up to $7 million with a guaranteed $5.5 million (the rest in bonuses for being on the 53- and 46-player rosters, all of which he’s received so far).
Olsen has 17 receptions for 158 yards and a touchdown, averaging 2.4 catches per game and 22.6 yards, each far off his career averages of 3.8 and 44.1, via Pro Football Reference.
Olsen had five catches against Dallas and Miami but has just three for 38 yards on eight targets in the past three games, with no catches on four targets against the 49ers.
“Greg’s been doing good,” Carroll said. “He’s been solid, been there when we need him. … Greg’s available to make the plays. He’s been very consistent. He’s a good ballplayer, and we’re counting on him to make clutch catches in every game, and sometimes you get chances, sometimes you don’t.”
Dissly’s receiving numbers also are down — he has 11 receptions for 111 yards and one touchdown in seven games after making 23 for 262 yards and four touchdowns in six games a year ago before suffering an Achilles tendon injury
But as noted, Dissly has been getting a lot of work as a blocker, so it’s not as if he isn’t contributing.
Jacob Hollister’s season has been a little more mysterious.
He had just two catches for 10 yards in the first five games and played just three snaps in the Week 5 victory over Minnesota.
But he’s played substantially since then with 23 snaps against Arizona and 26 against the 49ers, each season highs, with a combined four catches for 28 yards.
Some wondered if Hollister was being showcased, as there were rampant rumors the team was dangling him in trade talks — he has a $3.2 million salary this season and with some of Seattle’s other recent moves, the Seahawks might have been looking to get out of paying the rest of that. But that didn’t happen as the Tuesday NFL trade deadline passed and Hollister remained on the team.
But as noted, Dissly has been used in more of a blocking role the past two weeks, with Hollister seeing about half of his snaps split out as a receiver — 17 either in the slot or out wide. So maybe there have been some game-plan things at work as well in getting Hollister on the field more in receiving roles and Dissly inline.
Seattle also has rookie Colby Parkinson as the fourth tight end after releasing Luke Willson on Tuesday (Willson could stay on the practice squad). So the position remains intriguing, for sure.
Q: @PartTimeSpenny asked: Do you think Russell Wilson will set the record for most touchdown passes in a single season?
A: Wilson is on pace for 59 touchdowns — the NFL season record is 55 by Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos in 2013. That’s also on pace to shatter Wilson’s career high and team record of 35 in 2018.
Can Wilson really keep up that pace and break that record?
I’d say the odds are against it, because as we get into November and December the weather starts to turn a bit and passing often isn’t as easy (though it appears the Seahawks will catch a break with the game Sunday at Buffalo, where it’s supposed to be clear and 66 degrees).
Also, at some point this year you’d think defenses will start to catch up to offenses — teams are averaging 25.2 points per game this season, almost two points more than in any other year, 23.4 in 2013. and also gaining almost 9 yards more per game (361.8, the record being 352.7 in 2015).
But we all know how Wilson historically has been about bucking the odds.