Seahawks mailbag: Will Gabe Jackson keep starting, what's up with Dee Eskridge and more – The Seattle Times

Yes, you had questions after the Seahawks’ Week 2 flop-a-roo in San Francisco following the hopeful opening week win against Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos.
So, let’s get to it, with our latest Seahawks Twitter mailbag (with some questions edited slightly for clarity).
Well, that’s a big “if” with it unclear what the status is this week for Lewis, who played just 19 snaps against the 49ers Sunday before being sidelined with a thigh bruise after missing the Denver game with knee/ankle issues.
“Damien is pretty sore,” coach Pete Carroll said Monday. “He has a good thigh bruise going here, so we will have to see how that transitions the next few days.”
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If Lewis can’t play this week, the Seahawks will again go with Jackson and Phil Haynes as their starting guards. The only other player on the active roster listed at guard is Kyle Fuller, though Jake Curhan can also play there.
But the question makes sense given Jackson’s struggles so far this season, particularly in pass protection. Via Pro Football Focus, Jackson has given up nine pressures and one sack in 70 pass block snaps, a key factor why he is ranked 76th out of 85 guards overall through two games.
Jackson had the second-worst PFF grade of any guard in the NFL in Week 2 — 13.6 to rank 73rd of 74 guards overall — after allowing six pressures, three hurries and a sack against the 49ers.
The caveat is that it came against a 49ers team that Carroll says may have the best pass rush Seattle will face all season, particularly in the presence of Nick Bosa, who tore apart the Seahawks with seven pressures and two sacks.
That context is obviously important.
But the numbers aren’t trending well for Jackson, whom Seattle acquired from the Raiders for a fifth-round pick in 2021.
Seattle touted Jackson’s pass-blocking reputation as a key reason for making the trade. 
But Jackson is now 31 and coming off a knee surgery that held him out of the offseason program. His PFF pass-blocking grades have declined drastically in recent years — from a solid 75.6 in 2019 to 69.9 his last year with the Raiders and then 55.7 last year and 32.7 so far this year.
Another factor to consider is that Jackson’s $6 million guaranteed salary for 2022 became fully guaranteed in February. The Seahawks aren’t averse to admitting mistakes. But that would be a lot of money to kick to the curb a few weeks into the season especially when further considering that Jackson has a $9 million cap hit overall this year, third-highest on the team. That number also includes the prorated share of the $9 million bonus he received when he reworked his contract after being acquired by the Seahawks.
All that means Seattle could make a move with Jackson following this season. He has a nonguaranteed $6.5 million salary for 2023, but the bad news is he has $3 million in dead money due to the aforementioned bonus.
Should the struggles continue, Seattle could be forced to make a hard decision. As the questioner notes, Lewis played right guard in 2020, the spot he’d also played in college at LSU, before moving to left guard in 2021 to make way for Jackson.
FWIW, PFF has Haynes rated 66th in pass block grade, giving up five pressures and a sack in 58 pass block snaps (including a sack against the 49ers) and Lewis 31st, but with Lewis having just 12 pass block snaps before he was injured.
But it’s worth noting is that via PFF Jackson has the best run blocking grade of the guards at 66.3 while Haynes is at 49.7 and Lewis at 39.0.
Not sure two games into a season is the time to conclude a team has given up on someone.
But certainly Eskridge’s usage this year has been curious.
Seattle’s top pick in the 2021 draft at 56th overall, Eskridge has played just 11 snaps — five against Denver and six against the 49ers. Eskridge has just three targets and two touches. He had one catch for 6 yards against the 49ers, which came on the final play of the game.
And while listed as the starting punt returner, he has not been back for those duties yet with Tyler Lockett instead handling those.
Offensive coordinator Shane Waldron said last week that for now, veteran Marquise Goodwin was the third receiver behind Lockett and DK Metcalf, citing how well Goodwin played in camp and that Eskridge missed significant time with a hamstring injury.
“Just the way the last few weeks of practice have worked out, Marquise has done a nice job and really has done a great job of earning that role of the third receiver right there,” Waldron said. “Dee Eskridge is right there, getting back, and as he stacks more and more reps as he gets back from camp injuries, he will be right there.”
Goodwin has indeed been the clear No. 3 WR in the first two games, with 54 snaps.
Still, Eskridge did make it back in time to play in the final preseason game against Dallas. Goodwin didn’t play at all in the preseason while also missing time with a hamstring injury. He didn’t sign until well into the offseason program on May 23, seeming to suggest that availability hasn’t been the only factor.
With the offense struggling, you’d think the Seahawks will explore if Eskridge is ready to help them more.
After making two catches for 22 yards against Denver, Goodwin did not have a catch and only one target against the 49ers in 26 snaps.
To be fair to Taylor, he had tough matchups last week going against 49ers tackles Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchy, one of the better tandems in the NFL.
But no doubt, through two games Taylor’s output has not been what the Seahawks need to make their revamped defense work — and what they were hoping for after a promising 2021.
Taylor ranks dead last of all Seattle’s defensive players by PFF through two games, at 21st overall, having missed two tackles — one on Deebo Samuel’s 51-yard gain in the first quarter — and credited with just two hurries in 56 pass rush snaps and no sacks. That’s tied with Uchenna Nwosu for the most pass-rush snaps on the team, but Nwosu has turned in five hurries and a sack.
Taylor did have two tackles for a loss last week on running plays, which is second on the team (Al Woods has three) and also had two QB hits against Denver.
But the Seahawks unquestionably need Taylor to make more of a consistent impact, especially as he did early last season.
Taylor elicited a lot of excitement when he had four sacks in the first five games of 2021 after having missed his rookie year in 2020 with a leg injury after being drafted 48th overall.
But Taylor has just 2.5 sacks in his last 13 games, a trend Seattle needs to see end sooner rather than later.
The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.

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