Clayton: Seahawks will be flexible at WR in 1st year without Doug Baldwin
Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer offered some thoughts on the team’s offense in 2019 after Tuesday’s OTA practice.
The philosophy will stay the same. The Seahawks’ plan is to run the football. Last season the Seahawks became the best in football on the ground, and they should challenge to retain that title as they return four of five starters on the offensive line, their top two running backs and their top two tight ends, plus added even more depth to the offensive roster.
What will be different, however, is how young the receiving corps will be. Doug Baldwin has retired, and while Tyler Lockett becomes the No. 1 wide receiver, a big battle will be staged in the preseason to determine the rest of the order. From the sounds of how well second-round pick D.K. Metcalf is picking up the offense, there is a decent chance he could end up as the starting split end.
Schottenheimer answered the question of how he’s going to replace Baldwin on Tuesday. Lockett is probably the main replacement in the slot, but Schottenheimer said Lockett will be moved around and will also be used as a flanker and a split end. That shouldn’t be a problem because moving between different receiver spots in Seattle’s offense is nothing new for Lockett.
Although he was an outside receiver his first two seasons, Lockett played a lot in the slot over the past two years. According to Pro Football Focus, Lockett saw more plays in the slot (348) than on the outside (336) in 2017. Then last year with Baldwin in and out of the lineup due to injuries, Lockett played 457 in the slot compared to 496 on the outside.
Schottenheimer said what helps the receiving core is that Jaron Brown and David Moore now know all the routes and nuances in the second year in Schottenheimer’s offense. They have the ability to move around much like Lockett, too.
Brown is the sleeper receiver in this group. As Schottenheimer said, he did the dirty work last year. He didn’t have a lot of passes thrown to him and he had to do a lot of blocking on running plays. Even head coach Pete Carroll has admitted Brown was underused.
So it sounds as though Moore and Brown have the best chance to get the starting job on the other side of Metcalf – if Metcalf indeed starts.
It’s also pretty safe to say the Seahawks will be throwing deep. Schottenheimer believes Russell Wilson is the best play-action passer in the game, and as great as his deep throws were last year, he looks even better this year in OTAs.
Not only does Wilson have as good of a deep ball as ever, the Seahawks have more speed at the receiver position. Schottenheimer likes what he sees of John Ursua and Keenan Reynolds in the slot.
Even though Metcalf is working mostly at the split end position, they have moved him around a little bit to see what he can do at some of the other receiver positions. And it does appear that Schottenheimer will call a few more pass plays to the running backs. This group of backs is the Seahawks’ deepest in years for runners who can catch the ball out of the backfield.