Super Bowl Profile: Seahawks WRs
The Seahawks’ receiving corp represents one of the more solid under-the-radar position units in the league this season. Despite a lack of starpower and high-volume stats, this group has provided more than enough playmaking to get the job done.
With key injuries keeping both Sidney Rice and Percy Harvin shelved for the vast majority of the season, others have stepped up and filled in admirably. While not as explosive as the Broncos’ threats, Seattle’s top three receivers have been far more sure-handed. The trio of Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin, and Jermaine Kearse have dropped just 9-of-161 catchable passes, good for a Drop Rate of 5.6%. Compare that to the Broncos’ group of Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and Wes Welker, who’ve dropped a combined 30-of-314 catchable passes (9.6% Drop Rate) and it becomes clear that Seattle has quite a reliable stable of wideouts.
Let’s take a look at how each member figures into the Seahawks’ offense.
At 5-foot-10 and 199 pounds, Golden Tate doesn’t exactly fit the mold of a No. 1 NFL receiver. In Seattle’s balanced attack, Tate also doesn’t receive the amount of targets that the league’s top receivers generate. Many see over eight targets per game, while Tate sits at just 5.72 per game on the season (including playoffs). Few, however, can match his run after the catch ability and his efficiency.
Tate led the league during the regular season by forcing 21 missed tackles on receptions, and ranked second in Yards After Catch per Reception with 7.9. He also caught an impressive 68.8% of all passes thrown his way during the season.
Taking full advantage of his open-field elusiveness, Tate has been very efficient on WR screens, catching all 15 targets for 166 yards. However, he has also disappeared in a few games, some of which have occurred recently. Tate has recorded two or fewer catches and 34 yards or less in three of his past five games. Obviously the Seahawks will need him to be a threat this Sunday.
Much like Tate, Doug Baldwin simply produces when given the opportunity. When Rice went down, Baldwin quickly filled the production void, and has continued to do so throughout the year. Baldwin has caught 12-of-18 Deep Passes for 399 yards and two touchdowns (including the postseason). Only Santonio Holmes has a higher catch rate on deep balls, and Holmes had a meager 11 targets. Baldwin has actually racked up the 11th-most yards on deep passes despite 31 other receivers seeing more deep targets.
All this from a receiver who lines up in the slot 68% of the time. Baldwin produces at an especially high rate out of the slot, as his 1.95 Yards Per Route Run ranks fifth out of 29 qualifiers who’ve run at least 230 slot routes.
He may not have the big name or big stats, but he does have excellent hands, dropping only two passes all year out of 60 catchable balls. If you want an idea of how good Baldwin’s hands are, check out his touchdowns against Jacksonville and Minnesota. Russell Wilson has plenty of trust in his young receiver, and if he needs a reliable target with the game on the line, Wilson could find himself “going Bald for the Win.”
If you haven’t been following closely, you may not have even heard of Seattle’s No. 3 receiver. In the absence of Rice and Harvin, Jermaine Kearse has played an integral role in the Seahawks’ offense, often stretching the field vertically.
In fact, over 45% of Kearse’s targets have been on “Go” routes, and his Average Depth of Target (aDOT) is 17.2 yards downfield. Only three other receivers are targeted further downfield on average. Although Kearse has caught only five of the 13 deep passes sent his way, they’ve gone for 176 yards and four touchdowns.
Not limiting his contributions to pass-catching, he’s graded positively as both a run blocker and screen blocker on the season. Kearse isn’t the type of receiver that will dominate, as he has yet to catch more than three passes in a game, but if a defense isn’t careful he can get free for a long touchdown like he did against the 49ers in the NFC Championship.
Percy Harvin (the wild card)
What can we expect from a player who has seen the field for just 39 of (3.3%) Seattle’s 1,170 snaps this season? According to Pete Carroll, “no limitations,” meaning he could easily play more snaps in the Super Bowl than he has the entire rest of the season, barring re-injury.
The Seahawks will likely get as much use out of Harvin as they can, given his versatility and explosiveness. Without much to go off of this season, let’s examine some of his numbers before his initial injury a year ago. In just nine games, Harvin hauled in 62-of-81 targets (76.5%) for 677 yards, including 542 Yards After Catch and forced 22 missed tackles. This year’s leader in Yards After Catch (Denver’s Demaryius Thomas) has 776, but it’s taken him 18 games to achieve that number.
Simply put, Percy Harvin is the league’s top receiver after the catch when healthy. Put him next to Golden Tate, who’s also among the best in post-catch playmaking, throw in underrated deep threats Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, and Seattle’s receiving corps instantly becomes one of the most difficult in the league to defend.
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