Should the Seahawks go right after Jalen Ramsey with DK Metcalf?
The Seahawks’ offense gets a tough task out of the gate in the playoffs, as the Los Angeles Rams ended the 2020 regular season with the NFL’s top defense.
A big part of that was the play of star cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who allowed just 36 receptions on 71 targets this season for 354 yards. Ramsey is a true shutdown corner and typically shadows opposing No. 1 receivers. In two games against the Seahawks this season, Ramsey was regularly matched up with second-year receiver DK Metcalf.
Metcalf ended 2020 with 83 catches, 1,303 yards and 10 touchdowns, but his production took a hit in both matchups with Ramsey and the Rams. In a Week 10 Seahawks loss, Metcalf caught just two passes for 28 yards. In a Week 16 Seattle win, Metcalf faired better with six catches for 59 yards, but he failed to find the end zone in either contest and in the second matchup, the Seahawks put Metcalf in motion to get away from Ramsey, and that’s where most of his production came.
Per James Palmer of NFL Network, Metcalf this season has just one reception for 11 yards in 53 routes against Ramsey and has been targeted only four times.
In 2 regular season matchups, Jalen Ramsey shadowed DK Metcalf on 53 of his 77 routes, holding him to 1 reception for 11 receiving yards (on 4 targets)
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) January 6, 2021
Rams safety Josh Johnson told reporters this week that the Seahawks in Week 16 tried to “hide” Metcalf from Ramsey.
“I know one thing, (Ramsey) wasn’t happy about it,” Johnson said. “He looks forward to that matchup. You don’t want to get him angry.”
While getting Metcalf away from Ramsey or just not throwing his way in general makes sense due to Ramsey’s elite coverage skills, some feel like Seattle needs to challenge the likely All-Pro cornerback. One of those people is Danny O’Neil of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant.
“If I had one request for this game, I want there to be one time where (Ramsey is) reading either Tyler Lockett or DK Metcalf’s name plate,” he said. “… I don’t want to take the Aaron Rodgers vs. Richard Sherman approach in which the Packers just would not throw to that side of the field … I want that path to victory – if it is a path – take it off. I don’t want to shy away of going against him.”
It’s more likely that Metcalf gets matched up with Ramsey than Lockett, and if that’s the case, O’Neil says that makes it even more critical that the Seahawks go after Ramsey in the passing game.
“DK Metcalf is a star. The notoriety he’s gotten, the productivity he’s had this season … you don’t let another player neutralize him,” he said. “If you throw a ball up and Jalen Ramsey ends up having great coverage and beating DK Metcalf and getting a pick off that, I’m much more willing to accept that result than deciding ‘we’re not going to throw the ball to one of our stars.'”
Former NFL receiver Michael Bumpus said you can’t ignore the type of player that Ramsey is, and that Metcalf is more likely to beat defensive backs that aren’t Ramsey, but he thinks the Seahawks can’t just move Metcalf around to get away from Ramsey.
“At some point he’s got to look him in the face and say ‘alright, let’s go,'” Bumpus said. ” … You can’t run from Ramsey, man. You’ve got to go at him, but you’re not going to force a circle into a square. At some point you’re going to say ‘alright, let’s try something else and get (Metcalf) the rock.'”