Time for a Seattle Seahawks mailbag. Let's get right to the questions.
@SheilKapadia if the offense struggles this year does Carroll make a change and move on from Bevell?— Chris Amico (@amicochris) March 23, 2017
Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has become a target for criticism once again this offseason, and the truth is most of the claims are completely unfair.
The Seahawks' offense was not good last year, finishing 17th in efficiency, its lowest ranking since Russell Wilson became the quarterback. But Bevell is far down the list when it comes to reasons why.
Wilson was playing injured for most of the year. The offensive line was a mess. And the backfield was constantly in flux, with 18 different players finishing the season with at least one carry.
Pete Carroll doesn't just hand the offense over to Bevell and say, "Do whatever you want." He has specific guidelines. He wants balance. Turnovers drive him nuts. Third down has to be a strength. Meanwhile, Tom Cable handles the offensive line and the run game.
Essentially, Carroll has asked Bevell to design an offense that limits risk while still being explosive. Bevell has done that.
The Seahawks finished in the top seven in efficiency (offensive DVOA) in Wilson's first four seasons. They were first in 2015. Bevell has led the way in developing a young quarterback and scheming the offense to Wilson's strengths. And he has shown the ability to deal with challenging situations -- whether it's Marshawn Lynch's mom calling for his firing, Richard Sherman yelling at him on the sideline, or the disappointment of Super Bowl XLIX.
Is he perfect? Of course not. The Seahawks need to do a better job of getting Jimmy Graham the ball in the red zone. And last year's third-down performance was a problem.
But the bottom line is that Bevell has been a really good coordinator for Carroll, especially considering that Seattle ranked 28th or lower in cap space committed to the offense from 2014 to 2016.
Some people will never be able to get over Super Bowl XLIX. And that's perfectly reasonable. But last year's offensive struggles had very little to do with Bevell. And if Wilson is healthy, there's a pretty good chance this group bounces back in 2017.
@SheilKapadia Do you get the feeling that the SAM position has become obsolete for SEA? Lane played 70% snaps last year.— Nick Cassella (@Nick_Cassella) March 23, 2017
Good question. And in many ways, the answer is yes for the reason you stated. Jeremy Lane, the team's nickel, played 71.4 percent of the Seahawks' defensive snaps last year.
SAM linebacker is the least important position on the defense. Prior to 2016, Bruce Irvin played SAM and then moved to right defensive end when the team went to nickel. Mike Morgan did not do that last season. He played SAM and came off the field in nickel.
With Morgan currently an unrestricted free agent, the Seahawks don't have a lot of options (Ronald Powell, Kevin Pierre-Louis). There is an athletic group of edge rushers in this year's draft class. It'd be no surprise to see the Seahawks spend one of their five picks in the first three rounds on a player in the Irvin mold -- someone who can play SAM LB in base and rush the passer in sub packages.
One way or another, the guess here is that the starting SAM LB will be someone who's not currently on the roster.
@SheilKapadia Do they view Joeckel as OT or OG? Rees as OT or OG? Do they want to add another vet OL? How about via draft? Thanks!— Scott Peterson (@scott_peterson4) March 23, 2017
You didn't think we were going to do a full mailbag without an offensive line question, did you?
They see Luke Joeckel as a left tackle or a left guard. I don't think they are being coy when they say it could be either. That's how the Seahawks have operated with offensive linemen. They try guys at different spots in the summer, in hopes of finding the best five-person combination.
Having said that, given that Joeckel got $7 million guaranteed and that the Seahawks are thin at tackle, it's fair to assume they'd like him to win the left tackle job. That's where he played his first four seasons before sliding inside to guard in 2016 (four starts).
As for Rees Odhiambo, they view him as a guard. If they thought he could play tackle, he would have likely been given a shot there last season. There are a wide range of possibilities for Odhiambo, who was a third-round pick in 2016. If he impresses, he could compete for a starting job.
If he doesn't, he could be battling for a roster spot. The Seahawks have Germain Ifedi, Mark Glowinski and Oday Aboushi as options at guard. Joey Hunt is their backup center. And they could add an interior lineman or two in the draft.
By all accounts, the team is still high on Odhiambo, but he needs to prove himself next summer.