Jake & Stacy: Seahawks must utilize tight ends more on offense in 2021
Apr 24, 2021, 3:01 PM
The Seahawks’ offensive struggles across the second half of the 2020 season are well documented at this point.
After exploding out of the gate and passing the ball all over the field over the first half of the season, opposing defenses took away Seattle’s deep passing attack and the result was the Seahawks struggling to consistently move the ball downfield and score.
Issues like relying too much on the deep pass, struggling with in-game and game-to-game adjustments as well as an inconsistent focus on the run game are all partially to blame, but there’s one aspect of the Seahawks’ offense in 2020 that never really clicked, even when that group was operating at its best.
“There’s one thing we don’t focus on enough and it absolutely needs to be an area of strength for Seattle this season,” Stacy Rost said on Thursday’s edition of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy. “That’s the tight end group.”
Entering the 2020 season, the tight end group was seen as a position of strength for the Seahawks. Veteran Greg Olsen joined young players like Will Dissly and Jacob Hollister as well as veteran Luke Willson in that room, and the Seahawks used a fourth-round pick in the 2020 draft on Colby Parkinson.
Despite a lot of preseason hype, that group didn’t cause much of an impact in the passing game.
Olsen had just one touchdown, Hollister led all tight ends in touchdowns (three) and catches (25) while Dissly led the way in yards (251). Parkinson also had only two catches for 16 yard while Willson rarely saw the field and didn’t record a catch.
Overall, the Seahawks’ tight ends compiled 75 catches for 715 yards and six touchdowns.
Rost’s co-host, former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps, agreed with Rost that the Seahawks need more production from that group, but said that it’s “a little polarizing” to suggest that because the Seahawks boast a top wide receiver duo in DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett who need to get consistent targets and catches.
“But the areas in which the Seahawks slowed down tremendously in the second half of the season, in my opinion, is because they were not effectively able to distribute the football to other players like the tight end group,” Heaps said.
Where the Seahawks needed to focus on, Heaps said, was in the short and intermediate passing games. That wasn’t the case in 2020, and that led to some major issues for Seattle’s offense.
“One of the ways you can dominate in the intermediate pass game, one of the ways you can dominate on third down – which the Seahawks were so poor at last season – is by getting the tight ends more involved this year,” he said.
Now, Olsen is retired and Hollister signed with the Buffalo Bills. Dissly and Parkinson are back and the Seahawks signed former Los Angeles Rams tight end Gerald Everett.
“Those three guys have to step up in a big way,” Heaps said. “And (quarterback) Russell Wilson (has to put more) of an emphasis on looking those guys’ way, and (new offensive coordinator) Shane Waldron and this system have to find ways to get them the football.”
Rost thinks that the addition of Everett improves the Seahawks’ tight end room, even with the losses of Olsen and Hollister, but she needs to see how Parkinson looks in 2021 as he rarely played as a rookie and started the season injured. Additionally, while Dissly played his first full season of his career, Rost said he looked like someone who was playing after suffering season-ending injuries in the two previous seasons.
But what Rost really wants to see is a change in philosophy in how the Seahawks use their tight ends.
“I think I’d like to see the tight ends used as pass catchers more often than as blockers,” Rost said. “I love when they’re used as blockers and I think this team had its most successful run game when they were using (tight ends and extra linemen as blockers), but I want to see them improve in a diversified passing attack that’s not just to DK and Tyler.”
Rost called the duo of Metcalf and Lockett “phenomenal,” but said there has to be another option in case one or both of those players are unable to make plays due to things like injury or what opposing defenses are doing in coverage.
“You have to have other guys in there,” she said. “I am concerned with how the tight ends were used last year because it felt like not just a mix of offensive planning, but also personnel. I’m not sure what the deal was, but they just weren’t that effective as a group. I like the guys that are in here (for 2021), but I need to see more.”
Listen to the full conversation at this link or in the player below, starting at the 32:22 mark.