Person of Interest: Jimmy Graham, the mismatch

Jan 8, 2014, 9:26 AM | Updated: Jan 10, 2014, 6:21 pm

Jimmy Graham scored the Saints’ only touchdown in Week 13 against Seattle but was otherwise neutralized. (AP)

By Danny O’Neil

Taking a closer look at three players who figure to factor heavily into Saturday’s divisional-round game between the Seahawks and Saints, beginning with New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham:


• Position: Tight end, two-sport stud
• Height: 6-7
• Weight: 265
• Age: 27
• Experience: Fourth season

The storyline

Graham played one season of college football before he was drafted in the third round in 2010. He played one season in the NFL before he became one of the league’s most dynamic receivers. Not just tight ends, but receivers.

Graham has caught more than 80 passes in three successive season, and he caught 16 touchdown passes in 2013, which was not only most of his career, but most of any player in the league.

His production tailed off the final month of the season, however. He caught nine or more passes four times in the first 11 regular-season games, but didn’t have more than six receptions in any of the five games the team played in December. Graham averaged 4.2 catches over the final five games.

The statement

The Seahawks neutralized Graham on Dec. 2, holding him to three receptions in the game, and afterward coach Pete Carroll praised linebacker K.J. Wright for not only his ability in coverage, but his initiative in requesting the assignment.

Wright is out for at least another week after suffering a broken bone in his foot on Dec. 8. That means the Seahawks are going to have to explore some alternatives in covering Graham. So what’s the plan without Wright?

“You’ll have to wait and see,” Carroll said.

The Seahawks have options. Malcolm Smith has filled in capably at the weakside linebacker, and he has the speed to get downfield in coverage. Strong safety Kam Chancellor is big enough to match up with a tight end, but Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez was able to win that matchup a year ago.

How Seattle matches up with Graham is one of the keys to this game.

“How we do it? Hopefully really well,” Carroll said. “But we are challenged. K.J. had a great football game and we’ll miss him. Malcolm has done a nice job stepping into his spot, but that’s just part of figuring it out.”

Brock and Salk podcast

Brock and Salk

Seahawks Marcus Davenport...
Brandon Gustafson

Huard: How this draft class’ strength can help Seahawks in free agency

Because the 2023 draft is loaded with pass rushers, Brock Huard says there's history to show the Seahawks can take advantage in free agency.
2 days ago
Seahawks Ohio State Dawand Jones...
Brandon Gustafson

Seahawks Draft: All-American Dawand Jones an OL to consider

If the Seahawks want to add another big guy to their offensive line in the draft, Brock Huard likes Ohio State's Dawand Jones.
3 days ago
Seahawks draft Julius Brents...
Brandon Gustafson

Seahawks Draft: The CB who could be this year’s Tariq Woolen

Kansas State's Julius Brents is a cornerback in this NFL Draft class who is in the mold of Seahawks star Tariq Woolen, Brock Huard says.
4 days ago
Seahawks QB Geno Smith Dave Canales...
Brandon Gustafson

How big of a loss would QB coach Dave Canales be for Seahawks?

With QB coach Dave Canales interviewing with the Ravens, Brock Huard breaks down what that could mean for the Seahawks.
4 days ago
Mariners Jarred Kelenic Scott Servais...
Mike Salk

Salk: Patient Mariners are doing things the right way with Jarred Kelenic

When it comes to the Mariners and young OF Jarred Kelenic, Mike Salk explains why the team's approach for 2023 makes a lot of sense.
5 days ago
UW Huskies Sam Huard...
Brent Stecker

Sam Huard announces transfer from UW Huskies to Cal Poly

Quarterback Sam Huard joined Seattle Sports' Brock and Salk on Monday morning to announce his transfer to the Cal Poly Mustangs.
7 days ago
Person of Interest: Jimmy Graham, the mismatch