Bumpus: The route concept for Seahawks to get JSN more involved

Oct 8, 2023, 10:31 AM

Seattle Seahawks Jaxon Smith-Njigba...

Jaxon Smith-Njigba of the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 10, 2023. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

(Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

One of the Seattle Seahawks’ first-round picks has had some superstar moments this year and the other is trying to carve out an impact role.

Bump’s Breakdown: How Seattle Seahawks kept offense rolling with Lock at QB

Cornerback Devon Witherspoon, the No. 5 overall pick in this April’s NFL Draft, made his NFL debut in Week 2 after missing a lot of time with a hamstring injury and has consistently gotten better. He was especially electric in Week 4, when he had two sacks and an interception he returned 97 yards for a touchdown in the Seahawks’ blowout win over the New York Giants. He was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his play.

The team’s other first-round pick, receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, was arguably the talk of Seattle’s offseason as he was a standout during practices. But so far, the No. 20 overall pick has 12 receptions, but those catches have tallied just 62 yards and two first downs.

So how are the Seahawks using JSN right now that’s not working? And what’s a way they can get him the ball and let him shine?

Former NFL receiver Michael Bumpus broke it down during Friday’s Bump and Stacy on Seattle Sports.

First, what have the Hawks done with Smith-Njigba that’s not worked well?

“These short screens, I don’t think that’s his game,” Bumpus said. “I think that he can do it, but he’s not a violent runner with the football. He’s more of a slippery and smooth type of runner.”

Bumpus thinks the Seahawks need to use Smith-Njigba over the middle of the field.

“I’m watching film and he’s best when he’s working his way across the field,” he said. “So I’m looking at these deep crosses and I go you’ve gotta keep feeding him deep crosses. Because the Hawks have done a good job of getting their tight ends involved underneath, that’s gonna keep the eyes of the linebackers underneath. I think JSN is like that sneaky type of player where he understands how to disappear. What hurts middle linebackers, especially when they are responsible for covering the middle of the field, is that one, they’re not great in coverage (because) they’re linebackers.”

Bumpus said that with those deep crosses, you can often “split” the linebackers and create blind spots.

“And (quarterback Geno Snith) is great at throwing those footballs on time and in those little pockets. Send JSN on more deep crosses,” Bumpus said. “… I think that’s the way you get him involved. Get him in space in the middle the field. Teams have been hitting the Hawks in the middle of field, specifically the Rams. Let’s give them a taste their own medicine. I think that’s how you get him involved … Deep crosses all day.”

Listen to the full second hour of Friday’s Bump and Stacy at this link or in the player near the top of this story.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

Bumpus: Where Seahawks have become a more disciplined defense
Huard: How Giants’ collapse could boost the Seahawks’ defense
• Seahawks Rookie Check-In: How Seattle’s picks have done so far
• Bumpus: Why Seahawks are using Charbonnet ‘the right way’
• Rost: Seahawks who are rising and waiting to take off

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