It’s time – and there is time – to dip into the mailbag before the players take to the practice field on Wednesday.
Q: We keep hearing about Mike Williams and the job he has been doing. What about Reggie Williams? Has he been showing the talent he once had as a Husky? Thanks for answering my question. – Alex, Kent
A: No problem, Alex. But actually, it’s Mike Williams who has been answering this question since the Seahawks signed him and Reggie after their first minicamp. Mike and Reggie were Top 10 draft choices coming out of USC and Washington – Mike the 10th overall pick in 2005 by the Detroit Lions and Reggie the ninth pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2004. But neither played in the league last season.
This isn’t just another chance for each; it’s likely their last chance. Mike has done a better job of grasping the situation to this point. He’s running better routes and, as a result, making more plays. There’s still plenty of time, but right now it’s up to Reggie to catch Mike.
Q: What kind of defensive schemes can we expect to see this year, and how are we going to be able to mix it up to get to the QB? – Jason, Graham
A: We’ve touched on these subjects before, Jason, but they are definitely worth revisiting. The Seahawks will stick with a 4-3 front. The buzz terms for coach Pete Carroll when it comes to discussing the defense have been playing faster and more aggressively.
As linebacker Aaron Curry explained it, “It’s less about out-thinking our opponents, but more about just physically manhandling our opponents.”
That approach will include more press coverage from the cornerbacks and allowing the linebackers to play “downhill,” as they say.
As for generating a more productive pass rush, that remains a work in progress. The coaches are looking to play smaller and quicker at one end in the base defense and at both ends in the nickel. They also plan to use Curry more as a pass-rusher.
Q: With T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Deon Butler, Deion Branch and Golden Tate all under 6 feet, who is going to step up as the versatile, down-the-field, arm-stretching No. 1 receiver we need? – Brandon, Federal Way
A: Good transition question, Brandon, because that “work in progress” sign attached to the pass rush can be stretched to cover the receiver position as well. But Houshmandzadeh is 6-2, while Butler (5-10), Tate (5-10) and Branch (5-9) qualify for your “under 6 feet” tag.
But the club is looking for a taller receiver to complement Houshmandzadeh, Branch, Butler and Tate. That’s why Mike Williams (6-5) and Reggie Williams (6-4) were signed. That’s also why the team explored the possibility of acquiring ex-Bronco Brandon Marshall (6-4), who was traded to the Miami Dolphins. That’s why the Seahawks will continue this football equivalent of a scavenger hunt – which Tuesday led them to signing Marcus Maxwell (6-3).
If they stand pat, however, look for Tate’s run-after-the-catch ability to stretch short and intermediate routes into intermediate and longer gains. Also look for offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates to devise ways to feature Houshmandzadeh and use John Carlson as more than “just” a tight end.
Q: Will Lawrence Jackson have a bigger impact this year under Pete Carroll’s defensive scheme? At USC, L.J. had more than 30 sacks, so with Pete’s new scheme in place do you think Lawrence will have a big year? – Cole, Goldendale
A: You would think so, Cole. But with the recent move of Red Bryant to the end spot that Jackson also is playing, it’s up to Jackson to make the most of whatever snaps he does get. Carroll explained the situation after Monday’s OTA practice in this story.
This isn’t the exact scheme Carroll used – and Jackson played in – at USC. It’s more about playing bigger at one end and faster at the other. There have been times when Jackson and Bryant are on the field together. But at other times, it’s Bryant or Jackson on the left side with a pass-rushing end at the Leo spot – Chris Clemons, Nick Reed, Dexter Davis or Ricky Foley. Then, in the nickel, it’s a pair of pass-rushers.
So, to answer your question, Jackson is not being handed anything just because he played for Carroll at USC. The team’s first-round draft choice in 2008 will have to earn his playing time, and then produce to get more.
Q: I actually have two questions. Now that Nate Burleson is in Detroit, who is going to return punts? And, what kind of roll will Golden Tate, the very talented rookie wide receiver, be given? – Nate, Spokane
A: We touched on Tate’s potential as a wide receiver, Nate, but the question about who will return punts also plays into one of the attributes that made Tate attractive in the second round of the draft.
In his first phone conversation with Tate – right after the Seahawks drafted him – Carroll asked the rookie from Notre Dame if was interested in returning punts. Tate’s obvious answer: Of course.
There are other candidates: Justin Forsett, who returned 16 punts last season (compared to 30 for Burleson); and wide receivers Ben Obomanu and Deon Butler.
But if Tate can display the kind of open-field running ability at this level that he did at Notre Dame, it will be difficult not to devise ways to get the ball into his hands – as a returner and receiver.