The Seattle Seahawks are in the middle of a messy season that had them at 3-8 through 12 weeks. Though after a couple of wins over the San Francisco 49ers and Houston Texans to begin December, Seattle is up to 5-8 and back in the NFC playoff race.
Part of the struggle the Seahawks faced in the middle of the season was due to quarterback Russell Wilson’s finger injury that kept him sidelined for three and a half games. Right after he returned, Wilson didn’t look like himself initially but returned to form against San Francisco.
Wide receiver Tyler Lockett has been the pass-catcher most reaping the benefits of his quarterback’s resurgence. Over the last two weeks, Lockett’s recorded 12 catches for 210 yards and two touchdowns after a nine-game scoring hiatus. In contrast, D.K. Metcalf has seen a significant dip in production since Wilson’s return, even since the signal-caller has looked more like himself. The third-year receiver hasn’t scored since his two Week 8 touchdowns against Jacksonville. And after opening the season with seven straight games of more than 50 receiving yards, he’s only breached 40 yards twice in his last six games.
This plummet in production is unfamiliar territory for Metcalf, who set the Seahawks’ franchise record in single-season receiving yards with 1,303 last year. His 10 touchdowns in 2020 also put him in the team’s top 10 for receiving scores in one season.
Not only has it been uncharacteristic of Metcalf, but it’s also been a glaringly obvious issue. Seattle lost to the Washington Football Team in Week 12 in a game that featured just four Metcalf targets—none in the first half—and one catch for 13 yards. That’s an almost impossibly low output from a receiver as talented as Metcalf, and Seattle’s coaching staff knew it.
Shane Waldron, the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator, said, “We’ve got to get the guy the ball. We’re going to keep working to get that done, not making any excuses about different things that happen throughout the course of the game.”
While Metcalf did tally five catches the following week against the 49ers, it’s still his only game with at least that many in his last five.
It’s crucial that Seattle gets Metcalf involved again. He’s already one of the best receivers the Seahawks have ever had. He’s a guy whose strength and acceleration both off the line and downfield make him a serious deep threat receiver. Importantly, he’s also improved as a route-runner, which has opened him up with separation and zone-beating on both deep and intermediate routes.
Seattle is suddenly back within arm’s reach of a spot in the playoffs, but they have two challenging matchups ahead: the Los Angeles Rams and Arizona Cardinals. Even with two more winnable matchups with the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions to go, Seattle could really use a win in one (or both) of their divisional games to strengthen their record. Though it will be a challenge against some stellar pass defenses, opening up the deep passing game would help. Getting Metcalf more involved as Wilson continues to return to form is a big step in that direction.