Questions about Brandon Browner, Tharold Simon and Pete Carroll's contract in this edition of the Seahawks Twitter mailbag.
Time for another Seahawks Twitter mailbag as we discuss Brandon Browner’s role, Tharold Simon’s future and Pete Carroll’s contract.
Q: @JacsonBevens asked: Do you see Brandon Browner as a matchup/situation-specific player? I.E., I’m anticipating him playing a lot more in RZ (red zone) and vs TEs (tight ends).
A: I definitely think that could happen. I actually think Browner could be used specific to situations in several ways this season — as you note, in specific nickel and dime packages and in the red zone or against a specific player (Rob Gronkowski?) But I also think there could be games when he could be something of an every-down player against specific offenses, specifically against teams that pass (and wouldn’t Browner love it if he finds himself on the field for almost every play in New Orleans on Oct. 30?)
But I think exactly how Browner will be used is continuing to evolve, and will throughout the off-season and pre-season, as the Seahawks assess how effective both Browner is specifically, and how well those schemes work in general.
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But while how the team uses Browner will be intriguing to watch, a potentially bigger picture here is that we are also seeing the Seahawks appear increasingly willing to use their players in more situational roles than in the past. That may be due to the influence of second-year defensive coordinator Kris Richard, or simply something that the team thinks makes sense given the personnel it has, or some combination of both.
But we began to see it last year when the team used Richard Sherman more than it ever had to trail a specific receiver (such as Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown). That’s something that could continue, along with how the team may also now use Browner. During the Dan Quinn era, the Seahawks were renowned for employing as few sub packages as anyone in the NFL. The historic success of the Seahawks’ defense down the stretch in 2014 came when it simplified its rotations to an even greater extent (recall how the defensive snaps looked in a late-season win against the 49ers, with nine of 11 defenders playing 52 or more of the possible 58 snaps).
But with what the team may feel is more depth and versatility on defense than it has had in past years, and also a schedule that could feature more reason for needing to change things up, you could see the Seahawks doing a bit more mixing and matching depending on the opponent, with Browner’s usage at the forefront of that.
Q: @adaslieb asks: Tharold Simon end up the starting right side corner by EOY (end of year)? Is that what the Hawks want?
A: As Pete Carroll said recently when asked if the team would be comfortable with a rookie as its backup quarterback (Trevone Boykin), if they make that decision, then they have crossed the bridge of whether they are comfortable with it.
The same would hold true with Simon — if they think he’s the best man for that job, then it’ll be what they want.
But I don’t necessarily foresee Simon being the everydown starting right cornerback.
Instead, I think how this might ideally unfold for the Seahawks is that Jeremy Lane is the starting right corner, playing there in the base defense. Then, when the team goes to its nickel or dime packages, Lane could move inside to the slot and Simon — if he emerges as essentially the third corner — steps in to play on the outside. That’s also a role that could go to DeShawn Shead. Lane isn’t small, at 6-foot, 190. But he’s not as big as Simon (6-3, 202) or Shead (6-2, 212) and it makes sense to have the bigger corner on the outside.
Your question also seems to imply some trepidation about Simon emerging as a significant player in the secondary. Certainly, Simon has had struggles staying healthy, and until he can consistently do that then some skepticism is in order. Simon is entering the last year of his rookie contract and how he performs this season (and his ability to stay on the field) will go a long way toward determining what his future with the Seahawks is.
But the team remains high on Simon when he’s on the field — recall the comments of Carroll after an OTA last week that was open to the media.
Simon also may be taking somewhat of a bad rap for being put in some tough situations in the Super Bowl loss to New England, and to a lesser extent in the divisional playoff win against Carolina, each time when he was something of an emergency replacement for an injured player (something he discussed before last season). But Simon played well in some regular season starts in 2014, such as a late-season win at Philadelphia and the team remains intrigued by his size and potential.
The Seahawks have a lot of options at cornerback, though — Tye Smith and Marcus Burley, to name two others — as well as a handful of undrafted free agents. Given the team’s track record developing players at that spot, the Seahawks deserve some benefit of the doubt of they decide Simon is one of its top two or three heading into the season.
Q: @kashfiz asks: It’s been eerily quiet on the Pete Carroll contract renewal front. What’s the latest on that?
A: I’d argue that it’s not eerily quiet, but similarly quiet. Carroll has never talked about his contract status at any time during his tenure with the Seahawks. Carroll also entered the 2014 off-season with just one year left on his deal, and gave the same several-word non-answers every time he was asked about it as he has this year until the team suddenly announced an extension (and recall that there was so little buzz that anything was imminent that when the Seahawks announced a press conference the night before, initial speculation was that it had to do with an extension for Earl Thomas and not Carroll).
It’s understandable that fans might want to know that Carroll is securely in the fold for another few seasons. But all indications are that there is no reason for worry about Carroll’s immediate future with the team. He turns 65 in September, so obviously at some point there will be questions about just how much longer he wants to coach. But for as long as he does want to coach, it’s expected to be with the Seahawks. It’ll be a surprise if the team doesn’t announce some sort of extension with Carroll before training camp. Just don’t be surprised if you don’t hear much about it until the minute it happens.