It’s time to take a deeper look into the notion that Seattle’s receivers are pedestrian. Doug Baldwin’s been pissed off about it (they don't call him Angry Doug Baldwin for nothing) and he has the right to be. Some people such as Jim Trotter have came forward and given the receiver corps some recognition. Just looking at traditional stats, Wilson and Co. don't look so hot. Presumably this is where the perception of our dull, unremarkable, uninteresting, pedestrian wide receivers comes from.
At the end of the regular season, Doug Baldwin finished with a DVOA of 33.1%, good for 2nd in the league. His DYAR was 13th in the league. Golden Tate finished with the 25th ranked DYAR and 19th ranked DVOA. The only other teams with two receivers that finished top 20 in DVOA were the Broncos, Steelers, Chargers, Bengals, and Eagles. A pretty good feat considering Seattle finished with the 7th least passing yards per game. Quite obviously, the receivers are being efficient with the chances that they are given. Out of a sample size of receivers with a minimum of 50 passes (90 players), only five players had a higher catch rate than Doug Baldwin, and ten players had a higher catch rate than Golden Tate. Despite 108 less passes to him, Doug Baldwin had the same amount of touchdowns as Houston’s Andre Johnson.
Am I trying to sell you the fact that we have the best receivers in the league? No. But we absolutely have one of the most efficient receiver corps in the league. They’ve maintained productive numbers despite playing very good defenses in the last five weeks. Before then their DVOA and DYAR rankings were even higher. Since week 8, Seattle has been without Sidney Rice, and Harvin hasn’t been around virtually the entire season. Losing your top two receivers on the depth chart is a pretty big deal and the Seahawks have done about as masterful of a job as you can without them. Going into the season, Pete Carroll and Schneider couldn’t have guessed Harvin would tear his hip labrum or that Rice would tear his ACL, but that’s football. It speaks volumes to the depth of this team.
Pete Carroll is huge on explosive plays. Both him and several players have referenced both the ‘redline’ and explosive plays numerous times. This offense minimizes mistakes and turnovers and stresses explosive plays and that’s why the Seahawks finished 3rd in the league in average yards per reception. On both offense and defense, the ‘redline’ is a big thing. Despite both being listed at 5’10", Tate and Baldwin can go up and consistently get jump balls. They’re excellent at it. There’s not many wide receivers under 6’0" that can compete for virtually any ball like those two. These guys aren't the only two players on the team that catch the ball. Kearse has exceeded expectations as well after his rumored Lasik eye surgery. Although it is a small sample size, Kearse and Lockette both have higher yards per catch than Tate and Baldwin. Kearse also has one less touchdown than Tate and Baldwin.
So..... why should we appreciate these guys?
I appreciate Doug Baldwin for so many reasons. He's an absolute technician. The dude's routes are crisp. As I've said, he can go up and get jump balls. I love what he embodies. He's angry, and he's got a boulder on his shoulder. You say our receivers are pedestrian? He'll tell you we're the best in the NFL. He's outspoken, and in more of an acceptable way than Richard Sherman. We're both mixed Filipinos, so that gets him a plus. He's a brain on the field and he shows his Stanford education on it. I distinctly remember a play when he was a rookie in which him and Tate were lined up in a tight formation. Tate was lined up incorrectly somehow (probably would have been flagged for illegal formation) and Baldwin walked over to him, grabbed him, put him in his spot correctly, and walked back and lined up before the snap. He can play inside and out which is pretty rare for a player his size. Most people glance at him and say he's a slot receiver, but he can play outside with the best of 'em. You might disagree with me, but I think he's our most efficient receiver.
Unorthodox as he looks and runs, the man is a savage. He can do it all. He possesses out of this world body control and sticky hands. He runs like a running back once the ball is in his hands and had the second most missed tackles by a WR this year since 2008 (second to none other than Percy). He's been a great punt returner. I personally don't hear about it much but he runs very good routes. He has a ton of versatility and I'm a little disappointed we haven't seen him much in the backfield. Tate is the perfect illustration of a player that makes you go, "No! You idiot! Oh.... Wait.... Yes! Hell yeah!"
The poster boy for Lasik eye surgery. Coincidence or not, he's recreated himself with his newfound 20/15 vision. After Rice went down with an ACL injury, he became much more essential to the offense. He's not going to separate from corners (which was his knock coming out), but he'll attack the ball at its highest point. He's had some key touchdowns, and his latest one just may have saved our season. Like him or not, he's a helluva gunner and I can't tell you with absolute confidence that we'd be in the Super Bowl without him.
They call him The Rocket for a reason. He's quite possibly the fastest player on the team. You're going to hear the word "raw" associated with his name quite often, because, well he is. Pete Carroll is particularly high on him and it leads me to think they could possibly be staying patient with him awaiting a Golden Tate-esque development. Like Kearse, he is also a great gunner and has knocked off a couple heads this year.
He doesn't have a catch on the season, and hasn't had a catch since 2011. I'm not going to act like I know a ton about him. I'm also not going to classify him as a good route runner with suspect speed and good hands because he's white.
As a whole
We have a very well rounded group of guys, some more than others. They all have their special qualities that they bring to the team. They're fundamentally sound, they all block very well, and they're fun to watch. They all personify the Pete Carroll chip-on-your-shoulder player. People see their names, they hear people talk about them, and they form their uninformed opinions. It remains to be seen if that will change, but I do know one thing. When we get Harvin back..... watch out for another pedestrian. They're a force to be reckoned with.