Tag Archives: Doug Baldwin

Seattle Seahawks – What To Do With Jimmy Graham

There has been a lot of questions on Jimmy Graham.  How to use him? Should the Seahawks trade him?  Should the Seahawks cut their losses and let him go?  Why isn’t he targeted in the Red Zone?  Why isn’t he as productive as he was when he was with the Saints?

The most intriguing question of all of these is how to use Graham.  It was well known when Graham came to the Seahawks that blocking wasn’t his forte.  Catching the ball and scoring touchdowns is what made him one of the best tight ends in football.

But let’s think about how New Orleans used Graham in their offense.  In 2013, Graham had 86 receptions, 16 TD’s, averaged 14.1 yards per catch and 76 yards per game.  67% of the time during the season, the Saints lined him up as a wide receiver to take advantage of the mismatches created lining up against smaller cornerbacks instead of linebackers.  Doing this gave the Saints an absolutely lethal weapon in the Red Zone.

Remember, after the 2013 season, the Saints wanted to place the franchise tag on Graham as a tight-end.  Graham argued that he had more snaps as a wide receiver and should be paid accordingly.  He even forced an NFL arbitrator to rule on the dispute.  He lost and the Saints were able to franchise him at the tight-end level which paid significantly less than wide receiver.

That aside, let’s talk about how Drew Brees threw to Graham in the five years they were teammates.  Brees took advantage of Graham’s 6-7″ height, his 6-7″  wingspan and his 10″ hands along with his 3′ vertical jump and threw passes that only he could go and get.  Let’s also remember that Graham was an outstanding basketball player and was a fierce rebounder so going up and fighting for passes was second nature to him.

How do the Seahawks use him?  As a traditional tight-end that needs to block in a run-first offense.

Yes, I know that Graham finished with nearly a 923 yards last season along with 6 TD’s.  But a lot of those yards were when the Hawks were behind or the game was out of hand.

With the Saints, Graham’s 5 years stats were outstanding.  His average for each category:

Receptions-77.2  Yards per Season-950.4  Yards per Catch-12.18  Yards per Game-60.52  Touchdowns per Year-10.2

In his two years with the Seahawks, there is a significant drop in several categories, based on the average with each team:

Receptions:  56.5 (-20.7)  Yards per Season-764 (-186) Yards per Catch-13.4 (+1.22) Yards per Game-60.52 (-4.17) Touchdowns per Year-4 (-6.2)

How should the Seahawks use Jimmy Graham?  In my opinion, make him a wide receiver.  You say he doesn’t have the speed?  Between 2008 and 2012, the average 40-yard dash times for wide receivers was 4.55 seconds.  Graham’s time in the 40?  4.53 seconds so he has the speed.

The average height of an NFL cornerback is 5’10” tall.  At 6’7″, to go along with his leaping ability and huge wingspan, having him at wide receiver would be a huge mismatch, something that NFL offensive coordinators look for in every situation.  And with his rebounding experience from basketball and his 10″ hands, he will win more battles for the ball than lose them.

What does this do for the Seahawk offense?  Quite a bit actually.  It can still be a run first team if that’s what they want.  But consider when they do have to go to a 3 or 4 wide receiver set in long yardage situations.   Paul Richardson and Jimmy Graham out wide with Tyler Lockett and/or Doug Baldwin in the slots.  You can’t double team any of the receivers because all can catch the ball and all can create havoc after the catch.  You would force the defense to drop eight and if by some chance all of the receivers are covered, there is 3rd down specialist C.J. Prosise out of the backfield.

Added bonus to that is you get a real tight end in Luke Willson and Nick Vannett in the offense who can actually, you know, block and help the offense line in the run game.

Don’t like any of those options?  Then I suggest you do what Jim Moore of 710 Sports says:  Trade him for a top tier offensive lineman or multiple high round draft picks to use for the offensive line.  I couldn’t agree more with Jim Moore on this.  I also agree with Moore on getting sick and tired of hearing about Graham’s potential when the Seahawks don’t know how to use him, in particular, Russell Wilson.  If you watch game tapes of when Graham was with the Saints, Drew Brees put it in places that only Graham could get.  He threw it up high over the defender’s heads and let Graham’s basketball instincts take over.

Wilson?  Throws passes at Graham’s hips and knees where they are difficult to catch and in the reach of anyone covering Graham.  And don’t give me that crap that Wilson is too short to find Graham.  Brees is only 6’0″ tall, just an inch taller than Wilson.  While Wilson may have the better arm between the two, I’d be inclined to take Brees in a 2-minute drill simply because he knows how to use the weapons he has…and he used Graham brilliantly.

Graham was brought to Seattle specifically to improve scoring in the Red Zone.  In 2015, Graham’s first year here, the Hawks were 16th in the NFL in Red Zone scoring.  Last year, the dropped to 25th.  The Saints, over the same 2 years were 9th in 2015 and 3rd in 2016.  So it’s not just Graham, it’s the plays.  Over the past 10 years, New Orleans has been in the top 10 in Red Zone scoring except one year:  2010.

Seattle, in that same 10 year span, has been in the top 10 only once:  2007.  So let’s not put the lack of Red Zone production all on Jimmy Graham or Russell Wilson.  Let’s look at the consistently unimaginative play calling in that area by the offense coordinators…and since 2011, that falls on the shoulders of Darrell Bevel.  Comes up with some nice play designs between the 20’s but once in the Red Zone, he will switch to conservative play calling that leads to field goals instead of touchdowns.

I like Jimmy Graham but the Seahawks are wasting him…either move him to wide receiver and create the mismatches that all NFL coaches crave for or trade him to shore up the offensive line.

Seattle Seahawks – Offensive Line Has To Play Better

Seahawk Shining

There is a saying about the three most important things when you want to open a business:  Location, location, location.

Pretty much the same thing can be said if an NFL football team needs to be successful:  O-Line, O-Line, O-Line.

I watched the Seattle Seahawk-Arizona Cardinal game Saturday and I was amazed at just how the Cardinal defense dominated the Hawks offensive line in the first half:  QB Russell Wilson sacked 5 times and under constant pressure.  34 plays run by the Seahawks in the first half and of those, 19 of them resulted in no gain, yards lost or a turnover.  One yard of offense in the first quarter and a total of just 94 yards for the first half.  A total of seven plays run inside Arizona’s 10-yard line and failed to punch it in and having to settle for a field goal.

While everything appeared to improve in the second half, I still am having a hard time as to why the O-Line has been so inconsistent.  How can they look so pitiful as they did in the first half and then seem to become above average as they did in the second half?

The play of the Seahawks offensive line is what will determine how well they will do in the playoffs.  And since we don’t know which O-Line will show up, us Seahawk fans are going to be sitting on pins and needles when the playoffs start.

It was evident what the Cardinals wanted to do with Russell Wilson.  Keep him in the pocket and do not allow him to extend plays.  You could see the Cardinal defense swing out wide when rushing the QB, daring him to run up the middle.  On most of Wilson’s sacks, at least two of the offensive linemen had blown their assignments.

I understand that Seattle GM John Schneider had to make a decision when building this team that somewhere on this team, money just could not be spent.  As of right now, the Seahawks have the lowest salary cap for the offensive line at $6, 259,177.  That’s nearly $7 million dollars less than the next lowest team, the New York Giants.

Tom Cable may be just about the best offensive line coach in the NFL.  But as with any profession, you are only as good as the ingredients you are given.

Let’s start with left tackle George Fant.  Amazing potential and has indeed come a long way this year.  But understand you are protecting your most valuable asset with a guy that didn’t start in a football game since his 8th grade elementary season.  He focused on basketball in his high-school days and had a decent collegiate season for Western Kentucky.  He was finally convinced to try football as he had a wife and child to consider.  He was either going to play basketball in Poland or hopefully play in the NFL.  He had no tape, barley any game footage but during a workout with the Seahawks, Cable saw him as a “long-armed athlete” and was convinced he would be a great prospect.

I am amazed at Fant’s production and improvement and I think he will be an excellent left-tackle.  What I fear is that with all that Cable is teaching him, when it comes time for a new contract, he’ll be gone since the Hawks won’t want to spend the money.

Center Justin Britt seems to have found a place that he can succeed at.  He was drafted by the Hawks in the 6th round of the 2014 draft.  He was a starter the last two years at Missouri playing  both left and right tackle.  Seahawks love versatility and saw Britt as a possible right tackle and was the starter there for the Hawks in 2014.  Despite being ranked as one of the worst rookie pass blocking tackles, Britt started all 16 games at right tackle and the divisional playoff game against the Carolina Panthers before suffering an injury.

After a poor showing in the 2015 season at right tackle, Hawks moved him to left guard.  Britt improved a bit, starting all 16 games at left guard but still was ranked as one of the least effective pass blockers in the NFL.  In 2016, Britt was moved to center and his game improved dramatically…so much that he was elected as a Pro-Bowl alternate for 2016.  Pete Carroll stated that center is what they had in mind for Britt when they drafted him 2 years prior.  My question is why the heck did they want so damn long?  Max Unger was at center in 2014, Britt’s first year.  Why didn’t they have him back up Unger the first year, get him to learn all the tricks of the trade from him and then have him start at center in 2015 and just leave him there?

The Seahawk offensive line is young with an average age of 24.2 years old.  I don’t have issues with the age factor but I do have an issue with the talent level.  Seahawks have been known to find some gold at other positions.  Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Richard Sherman and Tyler Lockett are proof of that.

They need to find the same gold for the offensive line coming up in next years draft.  I’m willing to keep Fant as left tackle as I believe he will become one of the best in the game.  I also will concede the center spot to Britt.  Anyone who can improve to Pro-Bowl caliber is just fine in my book.  But that leaves the 2 guard spots and the right tackle.  Starter left guard Mark Glowinski, starter right guard German Ifedie with back up at both spots of Rees Odhiambo don’t give me a feeling of security, especially when playing against huge defensive lines such as the Cardinals.  Right tackle starter Bradley Sowell and back-up Garry Gilliam are at best a couple of back-ups on other teams.

Release or trade guards Glowinski and Ifedie as well as right tackle Sowell and keep Odhiambo and Gilliam for back-up spots on the line.

Then I would go after these players in the draft:

For right tackle:  Julie’n Davenport, Bucknell.  Another player with a background in basketball, Davenport is 6-7 and 315 lbs.  He has the tools to be a solid left tackle and would be able to develop his skills on the right side.  Good versatility as both he and Fant could play either tackle spot.

Left guard:  Kareem Are, Florida State.  This is a big man.  Listed at 6-6 and 334 pounds, Are would be just the road grader needed to jump start the Hawks running game.  He is an excellent power blocker at the point of attack and with Cable coaching, he will only improve on his pass blocking.

Right guard:  Taylor Moton, Central Michigan.  Another big presence inside.  Coming in at 6-5 and 326 pounds, he would help solidify the inside running game the Hawks so desperately need.  He is versatile enough to be able to play right tackle as well.

Remember the three things needed to be a successful NFL team:  O-Line, O-Line, O-Line!

Seattle Seahawks – Stubborn and Predictable

why

The Seattle Seahawks, picked by many this year to return to the Super Bowl, are in danger of falling short of those expectations.

One issue that can be stated very clearly is that the defense is still one of the best in the NFL and if not for them, this Seahawk team wouldn’t be much to talk about.

There are three areas on offense that I believe are the issues that are preventing the Seahawks to be great instead of just barley good.

  • Offensive Line

By now, everyone must realize just how special of a running back that Marshawn Lynch really was.  His running style hid many deficiencies the offensive line had in the past.  Because of his retirement, it shows just how bad of a decision it is that John Schneider and  Pete Carroll have made to not properly invest in the one area that is critical for all plays to succeed:  The offensive line.

The starting offensive line accounts for a mere 7% of the Seahawks salary cap.  At $10.2 million, it is the lowest in the league.  My question is that why would you go on the cheap in the one spot where any offensive play has any chance of succeeding?

The Seahawks have not, in the past three to five years, made the offensive line a priority.  It is confusing as to why Pete Carroll, whose philosophy is to run the ball, eat up the clock and play great defense.  It worked just fine when Marshawn Lynch was the running back as he gave you the luxury of having an inadequate line with his running style.

Also, because of Lynch, the passing game was successful because defenses would stack the line but would freeze on play-action passing plays which led to some big plays downfield.

Tom Cable, the offensive line coach of the Hawks, stated back I August that he feels this is one of his favorite lines he’s coached.  That they have some good players that have a chance to develop and be good NFL linemen.

That’s just great…meantime, after 7 games, the offense is averaging an anemic 81.4 yards per game, 28th in the NFL, and have had only 2 rushes longer than 20 yards.

They are better in the passing game, ranked 14th in the NFL at 258.4 yards per game but that’s only because they can’t run the ball.

And they cannot get the ball into the end zone where they are 29th in the NFL at 18.7 points per game.

  • Jimmy Graham

We gave up a very good center in Max Unger to get Jimmy Graham and yet the Seahawks have not found a way to use him.  In his 5 years with the New Orleans Saints, Graham averaged 77.2 receptions per year, 950.4 yards per year, 12.2 yards per catch and 10.2 touchdowns per season while playing an average of 15.6 games each year.

In comparison to his 1-1/2 years in Seattle, he has averaged 39 catches per year, 532 yards per year, 13.7 yards per catch and a measly 1.5 touchdowns per year.  It is inconceivable to me that the Seahawks, who brought Graham in to be more of a red zone threat, don’t throw to him more often.

A friend of mine wants some reporter to ask Pete Carroll in one of the press conferences he uses is why can’t you use Jimmy Graham correctly?  If Pete can’t answer the question, then we should trade Graham to get either multiple picks to use on the offensive line or for a good left tackle.

Which brings into light Russell Wilson.  While Wilson has made some great plays, he doesn’t appear to have the ability to throw receivers open and does not have the confidence in his arm to throw into traffic.  Drew Brees utilized Graham’s 6-7, 265 lbs. body perfectly, throwing to areas that only Graham could get to using his basketball skills.

Case in point, during the last game against the Saints and the last drive of the game, Graham was thrown a pass from Wilson that was at his waist.  Graham made the catch but had to slow down to adjust for it and was tackled when he could have made it into the end zone.  Brees would have thrown that pass above Graham’s head and in stride to allow Graham to walk into the end zone.

My suggestion on how to get Graham more involved?  That leads to the third area:

  • The Play Calling of Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell

When Marshawn Lynch was here, Bevell’s job was much easier as was Tom Cable’s.

But Lynch is gone and now the limitations of Bevell’s play calling is evident.  His refusal (or is it Pete Carroll’s refusal?) to take shots downfield and rely on an anemic running game is becoming laughable.

My suggestion to Bevell and to Pete Carroll is to move Jimmy Graham out to wide receiver and with Luke Willson injured, start either Nick Vannett or Brandon Williams at TE.  This will give the Seahawks a big bodied receiver on the outside who can run a 4.5 forty up against smaller cornerbacks and safeties.

It also helps improve the offensive line with a better blocking tight end, more chances for Doug Baldwin in the slot and you can either place Jerome Kearse, another big receiver or Tyler Lockett as a burner down the field.

This would also help the running game as linebackers would need to drop back into more coverage and not allow defenses to stack the line to stop the run.  And both Williams and Vannett can be used on TE screens just to make it that much more difficult for defenses to know what the Hawks are going to do.

I think that Bevell can be the right play caller for the Hawks.  But he needs to convince Carroll, if they are going to continue down this path of spending the least amount of money on the offensive line, then they need to give that line all the help they can.

The Seahawks need to do something.  Relying on the defense to keep them in and hope the offense to pull some miracle each game is no way to run a football team.

Seattle Seahawks Win By A Hawk feather – Panthers up Next

What just happenend

I’m pretty sure that 95% of Seattle Seahawks fans was asking the same thing Archer was kicker Blair Walsh lined up for a 27 yard field goal, shorter than an extra point, and missed. It was a pretty sure thing seeing how Walsh had made 3 previous field goals of 22, 43 & 47 yards.

The snap was good, the hold was good and Blair Walsh, who had made 87.2% of his kicks this year, pulled it left. About the only thing that was “bad” about the kick was the laces of the football were facing Walsh when the attempt was made. This can cause some kicks to be erratic and might have played a part in it but Walsh wasn’t having any part of it.

He placed the blame solely on his shoulders. Teammates consoled him as he broke down. You can’t tell me that NFL is all business. This loss hurt the Vikings deep. Hopefully, they can take a page from the Seahawks and grow stronger from it.

Ah yes, the Seahawks, surviving the 3rd-coldest playoff game in playoff history. While I will give the defense their due, they played a fantastic game, the offense survived on individual efforts.

That’s not to say the Seahawk offense had totally fallen apart, that’s not the case at all. The offensive line run blocked well enough to allow Christine Michael to rush for 70 yards. But for the most part, it was individual efforts by Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett.

The first I point to is in the 3rd quarter. Hawks were at their own 20 yard line with a 3rd and ten. Wilson, out of the shotgun, drifted back in the pocket and threw high. Doug Baldwin, with a Viking on his back, came up with perhaps the best catch I have seen since the days of Steve Largent.

Baldwin went up, with his right hand extended and somewhat behind his head and brought the ball in. First down Seahawks!

The next play came from Wilson and rookie Tyler Lockett (who has not played like a rookie at all) in the fourth quarter. Seahawks had put together a decent drive and had 1st and ten at the Viking 40 yard line. Wilson, in the shotgun, was not prepared for the snap and it sailed over his left shoulder. Wilson chased it back in Seattle territory, picking it up at around the 47 yard line. He secured the ball, saw that no one was around him, scrambled to his right and found Lockett at the Viking 29-yard line.

It would have been a great play right there to pick up the first down but Lockett, with some veteran savvy, turned and ran to the left side of the field and turned up until he was driven out at around the 6 yard line. First and goal, Seahawks!

On second and goal, Wilson found Baldwin on the right of the end zone to put 7 on the board for the Hawks. Later, Steven Hauschka with 8:09 left in the game connected on a 46-yard field goal which turned out to be the game winner.

The Minnesota Vikings have nothing to be ashamed of on this game. They did all the right things to limit the Seahawk offense being on the field. They put pressure on Wilson and the cold, frigid air did the rest on his passes having them seemingly float in the air.

The Viking offense did its part as well, holding the ball for long stretches and building a 9-0 lead that in the game conditions seemed insurmountable to the Seahawks.

But then there are special players that seemingly find just the right time to create magic. Cue Baldwin, Wilson and Lockett.

There are some questions I have on some of the decisions that Pete Carroll made early in the game. For instance in the first quarter, the Hawks have the ball on the Viking 30 yard line with a 4th and 13. Instead of electing to attempt a 40-yard field goal, well within Hauschka’s range, they elected to go for it and completed a 7-yard pass to Fred Jackson.

Then, in the second quarter, Seahawks had gotten the ball to the Vikings 34 yard line and elected to punt instead of having Hauschka attempt a 44-yard field goal.

Hawks again had the ball on the Vikings 38 yard line and went with a punt instead of a 48 yard field goal with 1:15 left in the first half.

I know the conditions were brutal but I feel they left points on the field. Blair Walsh proved that a ball could be kicked from as far out as 47 yards and I think Hauschka as a better leg than Walsh.

As for heading to Carolina, the Seahawks are going to need a much better played game than what they showed against the Vikings. There is a reason that the Panthers went 14-1 during the season. However, Seahawk fans can take solace that the Hawks played them very tough in Week 6 and had the lead in the 4th quarter playing them at home.

Seahawks match up well with the Panthers and I suspect this will be a slugfest. Which it should be since this is for the NFC Division and the right to move on to the NFC Championship game.

Historically, the Seahawks have played well at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. Since 2000, they are 3-2 there and the Hawks have an overall record of 7-3 against the Panthers. Over the last 4 games played in Charlotte, Seahawks are 3-1 and the score differential is only 4 points between these two teams.

I don’t see a low scoring game here however. Panthers led the NFL during the regular season scoring 31.2 points per game and the Hawks were in the Top 5, averaging 26.4. Defenses were close as well. Hawks allowed a league leading 17.3 points per game while the Panthers held opponents to 19.2 points per game.

It will be decided on who has the ball last I think. Perhaps 27-24 Seahawks on a Hauschka 50-yard field goal?

We’re just gonna have to wait and see, won’t we?

I’ll be writing a prediction of the Hawks/Panthers game later this week.

Stay tuned!

GO HAWKS!

Seattle Seahawks Must Play Championship Football vs. Cardinals

Seahawk Shining

I know the headline is an obvious statement but it needs to be said.

When the Seahawks enter the University of Phoenix Stadium on Sunday to face the Arizona Cardinals, it has to be as though they are playing in the Super Bowl.

We as fans, need to stop worrying about the offensive line and what the defense gives up.  Nothing we can do about it anyway.  But if there was ever a time this city needs to rise above any doubt about the Seahawks, now is the time.

The 12’s are what’s gonna get this team the lift they need to make their 3rd straight Super Bowl appearance.

I know, the shoddy showing they had against the Rams makes it difficult.  But this team has always had a rough time against the Rams, which has a very good defense and now looks like they have a marquee running back in Todd Gurley.

We also know that the Seahawks, at least over the last few years, rarely lay an egg two weeks in a row.

They march into Phoenix to face a Cardinal team that is the number one offensive team in the NFL.  The Hawks have some solace in the fact when they played them in Week 10 and were down 22-7 at the half, they came back against this team to take a 29-25 lead early in the fourth quarter.

It is my belief the reason why the Hawks lost this game is because the defense was gassed.  They played their hearts out to hold down the offensive juggernaut known as the Cardinals until 1:48 left in the game when Andre Ellington ripped off a 48-yard touchdown run that sealed the game.

Despite the loss, the Seahawks went on a record setting 5-game stretch to vault themselves into playoff contention, beating the 49’s and Steelers at home, Vikings and Ravens on the road and then dismantling the Browns at home before self-destructing against the Rams last week.

Right now, the Seahawks are the Number 6 seed going into the playoffs.  That points to heading to hallowed ground, facing the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.  Perhaps not the best scenario but not the worst either.  Seahawks and Packers have had games filled with controversy and while going 4-6 against them over the past 10 games, the point differential between the two teams is 12 points over that span.

Another possible opponent would be the Minnesota Vikings of which the Hawks have a 6-4 record over the past 10 games.  The last game played between these two teams was the Week 13 38-7 blowout in Minnesota.   They focused on stopping Adrian Peterson and dared Teddy Bridgewater to beat them.  The result was holding Peterson to 18 yards on eight carries and the only reason the Hawks didn’t shut the Vikings out was the 101-yard kickoff return by Cordarrelle Peterson in the third quarter.

The third possible playoff opponent would be the Washington DC based team.  They have a 4-6 record against them over the last 10 games but have beaten them twice at FedEx Field in Landover, including a 24-14 playoff victory in 2013.

Regardless of who the Seahawks play in the opening round, the Seahawks cannot take this game against the Cardinals lightly.  Pete Carroll has stated in the press they are looking at this game as a championship game and won’t be holding anything back.

Hawks are going to have to rely on Christine Michael, Bryce Brown and Fred Jackson to get the running game going as well as QB Russell Wilson using his legs to keep the Cardinal defense honest.

The offensive line will need to get back to the caliber of play during that 5 game stretch and allow Wilson the time he needs to connect with receivers Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, Cooper Helfet, Tyler Lockett and perhaps Anthony McCoy.

The defense will need to get through the Arizona O-Line and make Carson Palmer uncomfortable.  Sacks would be good but I am looking for the Hawks front four to get him off his spot and force him into making bad decisions which would play into the heart of the Seattle D, the Legion of Boom.

It’s going to be a good game and I don’t see Bruce Arians pulling any of his starters to save them for the playoffs…unless the Seahawks put the game out of reach by the 4th quarter.  As much as I would love that scenario, I don’t see it happening.

But I do see a Hawks victory, 38-35 with Steven Hauschka kicking the game winning field goal with no time left on the clock.

GO HAWKS!