By Steve Sandmeyer
A lot has been made about quarterback Russell Wilson’s development so far, but it’s time for other people around him to play more consistently – namely, the Seahawks’ wide receivers.
Two weeks ago, in the comeback win against New England, they played the best game out of any group of players on the Seahawks – including the secondary. Everyone contributed. Golden Tate made a couple huge catches, Doug Baldwin had two enormous plays – including a touchdown, Braylon Edwards scoring on the fourth-down fade route, and Sidney Rice made what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown reception.
They won every 50/50 ball. They were aggressive. They were a huge factor in the victory.
But the receivers pulled a disappearing act last week in San Francisco. Dropped passes, bad routes, no separation, and ultimately no help whatsoever to a rookie quarterback trying to move his team down the field. I’m not willing to simply chalk it up to a road game against a very good defense. The wide receivers, as a group, were a complete disaster against the 49ers.
I’m not asking for this group to simultaneously become Hall of Fame receivers all of the sudden. I’m asking for a little more consistency. There is no excuse for turning in a splendid performance one week and a shoddy performance the next week – especially out of a group of veteran players.
I’m not going to simply ignore the play calling; it’s a big factor in this – I get it. The Seahawks only average 25 pass attempts per game – dead last in the NFL. I understand it’s tough for a group of receivers to perform when they aren’t given as many opportunities. But they haven’t capitalized consistently on enough of the opportunities they’ve had. I would gladly trade for a steadily average performance week to week in exchange for the up-and-down, Dow Jones-like performances of the past two weeks.
A third-string tight end (Evan Moore) and a backup rookie running back (Robert Turbin) can’t take the fall for dropped passes and missed opportunities. Sure, they could have made those plays against San Francisco, but was anyone shocked they dropped them? Not me. We have no idea if Turbin will be a viable receiver out of the backfield. We don’t know about Moore’s ability when it comes to making plays like that.
But we do know what the wide receivers are capable of – and we need to see a more consistent performance out of them on a week-to-week basis instead of being brilliant one week then lousy the next. The receivers shouldn’t put the onus of the playmaking on a third-string tight end and a rookie backup running back to begin with (Duly noted, neither should the offensive coordinator).
Tate is in his third season. It’s time for him to stop dropping passes on slant routes. It’s time for him to learn the entire playbook. It’s time for him to be more reliable.
Rice is healthy again – and capable. He can’t throw his mouthpiece to the ground and kick rocks on his way back to the sideline when things don’t go his way (Although I will say he needs to be more of a focal point of the passing-game playcalling – and his quarterback needs to look for him more).
Baldwin needs to get healthy and hit the ground running when he returns from his high ankle sprain.
Edwards can play, but he needs to stay out of Pete Carroll’s doghouse and understand this might be his last chance to play in this league.
Clearly, the passing game is made up of many moving parts. Protection must be given up front, the running game needs to provide support, the play-calling must be both creative and aggressive at the same time, and the quarterback needs to look downfield and find his guys.
But the wide receivers need to be more consistent.
Steve Sandmeyer is a fill-in host on 710 ESPN Seattle. You can also follow him on Twitter @SteveSandmeyer or find him on Facebook at the “Steve Sandmeyer Fan Page”.