Ever since his arrival in the Pacific Northwest as the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks back in 2010 Pete Carroll has sought to find a big-bodied receiving target. From Big Mike Williams to Sidney Rice to Chris Matthews, Jimmy Graham, David Moore and Brandon Marshall, the Hawks have seemed to attempt to find a tall receiver who could represent a dominant mismatch in the red zone.
For the 2018 season it seemed that the Hawks had found their replacement for Graham in Marshall, a player whose height and experience should allow for the creation of mismatches in the red zone. However, Marshall ended up being more of a nightmare for the Seattle offense than for opposing defenses. Marshall appeared in just seven games and played only 191 offensive snaps on the season, with more than two thirds (133 of 191, 69.63%) of those snaps coming during the first three weeks of the season.
Unfortunately for Seahawks fans, those 133 snaps may have cost the Hawks a game. Seattle traveled to the Mile High City to take on the Denver Broncos in the season opener, a game which they lost by just three points. That game ended in a three point loss for the Hawks, however, there was a four point swing early in the second quarter when an offensive pass interference call on Marshall cost the Seahawks a touchdown and forced them to settle for a field goal.
In Week 2 Marshall managed to drop a pass on 2nd & 6 that hit him right in the chest, and while it is obviously impossible to place blame for a loss on a first quarter incompletion, it started a streak of three straight games in which a Marshall drop led to a punt. Following that streak of the drops, he was shown to the bench, and played only 34 more offensive snaps for Seattle before being released.
So, while many fans may argue that the difference for the offense after the team started 0-2 was a shift to a more run oriented offense, how much credit goes to the fact that the team moved away from the receiver who couldn’t catch? As the team gets ready for its Week 17 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, Marshall still leads the team with 3 drops on the season, in spite of the fact that he is fifth on the team in snaps and fourth on the team in targets among wide receivers.
And that’s in spite of the fact that he hasn’t played for the team in two months because they released him in October.
So, while all the attention has been going to the reemphasized running game and the fact that the Seahawks have rarely turned the ball over, how much of the credit should be given to a group of wide receivers that simply doesn’t drop the ball?
Yes, David Moore could work on getting his feet down on end zone and sideline routes and Doug Baldwin has battled injuries for most of the season, but the simple fact of the matter is that those two, along with Tyler Lockett and Jaron Brown, have been absolutely phenomenal this season. Those four have combined for a catch rate of 69.3% this season, in spite of more than a quarter of their targets coming on deeper passes. At the same time they have dropped less than 1% of their targets, while Marshall’s drop rate was in double digits.
So, the question then becomes, does the team need a big bodied receiver? Sure, it’s a nice luxury to have if the player performs at an acceptable level and does their job, but that is certainly not what Marshall did.
Thus, with the regular season coming to a close this weekend and the offseason quickly approaching, the question becomes whether the Hawks will go after another big bodied receiver in the offseason simply because of physique. Seattle has both Malik Turner and Caleb Scott on the practice squad, as well as the smaller Keenan Reynolds, making receiver a position that will be extremely interesting to watch during the offseason.
But talk of the offseason is getting ahead of things, because first we’ve got the playoffs to enjoy.