DK Metcalf says Seahawks WRs have new routes, and that could be big
After minimal veteran attendance for the first part of the Seahawks’ organized team activities, many of Seattle’s stars arrived at the team’s facility in Renton this week, including third-year receiver DK Metcalf.
After a stellar 900-yard rookie season in 2019, Metcalf followed that up with a 1,303 receiving yards last year, setting a Seahawks single-season record.
Not only are all eyes on Metcalf for how he can follow up on his record-setting 2020, but people are very interested in how he’ll perform with a new offensive coordinator.
During Metcalf’s first two NFL seasons, the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator was Brian Schottenheimer. Now Seattle has a new offensive play-caller in Shane Waldron, who comes to the Seahawks from the Los Angeles Rams, where he spent the last three seasons as the team’s passing game coordinator.
Metcalf spoke to reporters after practice Tuesday, and when asked about Waldron’s offense, he described it as “intricate,” added that Waldron is “hungry,” always looking to learn something new about the game and how to get his best players the ball.
But what stood out the most from Metcalf’s comments were what he said about the routes that Seattle’s receivers will be running in 2021.
“It’s a lot of different kinds of routes that people haven’t seen from either team that he’s coached, so I’m just excited to get to work with him and get to hone in on those other skills,” Metcalf said.
What exactly does that mean? Someone who knows a thing or two about Metcalf’s position is former WSU and Seahawks receiver Michael Bumpus, who shared his thoughts on Wednesday’s edition of 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant.
“Your traditional route tree has nine routes,” Bumpus said. “In football it’s all about getting guys to spots and you have those routes and you have spots on the field … So what I think when I hear him say that is he is running routes that aren’t linear. All those routes I just named are linear. Everything is in a line and that’s how we’ve been taught to play football.”
Bumpus thinks that the Seahawks being non-linear in their routes is what Metcalf meant as opposed to Seattle actually running unseen routes or route combinations.
“I know he said there are some routes that we haven’t seen yet, but (Waldron) allows his players to kind of round a lot of things to just get to spots,” he said. “So I think (Metcalf is) going to have a little more freedom in his route running. I think there’s going to be less linear routes and he’s going to be able to get to a spot in different ways.”
Bumpus added that he thinks he’s seen some of the ideas Waldron is bringing to the table from his time studying playbooks and play-callers, and he thinks the key difference for the Seahawks in 2021 will be “allowing things to be more fluid and free-moving and not as strict when it comes to movements.”
“It’s more like, ‘OK, let’s get to this spot’ and you’ll have freedom to move defenders to your release and how you attack them and don’t worry about being on a straight line all the time,” he said.
Danny O’Neil, co-host of Danny and Gallant, wanted to know if Metcalf would be aided by a more fluid and free-moving offense in terms of routes. Bumpus thinks that will be the case not just for Metcalf but for all of the Seahawks’ receivers.
Bumpus said that a lot of route concepts are very specific and involve attacking certain defenders and locations on the field in set and particular ways.
“Whereas now it might be like, ‘Look, you’ve got to get to that five-yard spot, but instead you can hook around (the defender)’ and you have more freedom and you don’t have to be exactly at five yards,” Bumpus said. “Maybe you’re going five to eight (yards) and you’re just looking for space. A lot of the times, routes restrict you because you have to get to this spot in this way.”
Bumpus thinks that Metcalf, despite being massive for a wide receiver at 6 foot 3 and 230 pounds, can be “sneaky” in Waldron’s offense.
“When I say sneaky it’s like when you run past the second level, the linebackers (have) a blind spot and they’ll lose you, and if you’re linear and you’re running things that they’re used to seeing because you have to attack guys, they’ll be prepared for it,” Bumpus said. “But maybe you’re allowed to get behind them and hook around. I feel like they’re going to be playing a lot of mind games with these defenders because they’re going to see a lot of stuff that they just haven’t seen before or haven’t seen on the regular.”
Listen to the full discussion with Bumpus in the second hour of Wednesday’s Danny and Gallant at this link or in the player below.