Welcome to another edition of #HawksMailbag here on Seahawks.com, our weekly feature where we answer your Twitter questions about the club.
Coming off of Sunday’s 23-0 victory over the New York Giants, your concerns about the club were down, praise was up, and several quality questions still poured in. Thanks to those who made a submission this week, and sorry we can’t get to them all. Let’s get down to it.
In my mind, there’s a handful of guys that make this unit a little bit more “special” than the rest. That’s punter Jon Ryan, cornerback Jeremy Lane, kicker Steven Hauschka, and punt returner Golden Tate. Let’s look at some numbers:
19: Punt-return yards given up, 10 of which came in Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers. That number ranks No. 1 in the League, and by a wide margin. St. Louis Rams punter Johnny Hekker ranks second with 81 punt-return yards surrendered.
24: Fair catches on Ryan’s punts. Lane has played fast and physical as the “gunner” during Ryan’s punts, allowing him to get down field and in position to make the tackle of any would-be returner. His team-leading 11 coverage tackles have also played a large role in Ryan’s miniscule 19 punt return yards.
130: Points, which leads the NFC and ranks second in the NFL. Hauschka has connected on 30 of his 31 kicks (T-2nd NFL) with his only miss coming by way of a blocked attempt against the Colts. His 96.8 percent success rate ranks tied for first in the League.
540: Yards on punt returns, second-most in the NFL. His 11.7-yard punt return average ranks 4th in the NFC. Two of Tate’s returns have played a critical role in two separate wins. His 32-yard return in overtime against the Texans in Week 4 helped set up Hauschka’s game-winning field goal and his career-long 71-yard bring back in Week 9 sparked a field goal during the team’s franchise-record 21-point comeback win over the Buccaneers.
This is what head coach Pete Carroll and his assistants expected (and hoped) to see out of Byron Maxwell – and Jeremy Lane – after cornerbacks Brandon Browner (groin) and Walter Thurmond (suspension) were sidelined. Maxwell, who in his third season is a year ahead of Lane in the Seahawks system, truly embodies the effectiveness of Carroll’s “Next Man Up” mentality.
“He had a great camp, he had great practices, he had practiced as well as any of our guys and just had been one of the backups that just couldn’t punch through it,” Carroll said of Maxwell on Monday. “But it wasn’t because he hadn’t performed really well. Everything that we had seen was like he’s playing right now. His ability to translate that from practice to the game field is noted. He did a great job and he’s been productive as can be.”
Your question stirred memories of a conversation I had with secondary coach Kris Richard during training camp last season. Maxwell was working through multiple injuries at the time, but Richard said that when healthy, “the sky is the limit” for Maxwell. It was a pretty good endorsement, and I think with this latest opportunity we’re starting to see Richard’s comments come to life.