When Tyler Lockett was signed to a three year, $31.8 million extension prior to the 2018 season, many eyebrows were raised. By the time the Seahawks exited AT&T Stadium at the conclusion of their season, Lockett had answered any and all questions surrounding his worth. And, really, those questions were answered much earlier in the season.
Over the course of the 2018 season, Lockett evolved from a tantalizing player, one who had flashed game-breaking ability as a rookie, to a legitimate, high-end playmaker. By now, Lockett’s efficiency in 2018 is widely known. The first receiver to have a perfect passer rating when targeted since 2006. The most yards per target, topping the previous high by over a full yard, since targets began being tracked in 1992. One of 18 players since 1992 to catch double-digit touchdowns on fewer than 100 targets—and he did it on the third fewest (70).
Time and time again, when Seattle needed to pick up chunks of yardage, Lockett was open, streaking down the sideline or across the middle of the field. His evolution included becoming elite at tracking the deep ball, and using contact at the perfect time and angle to create separation.
Now set to enter the first season of his three year extension in 2019, and coming off a season that saw him produce 57 catches, 965 yards and 10 touchdowns, how can Lockett and the Seahawks further maximize his impact, without impacting the tremendous efficiency he had in 2018?
Seattle and OC Brian Schottenheimer can do it with just a minor tweak, one that would serve to get the ball in Lockett’s hands with ease and help to get the offense’s other weapons in space.
As offenses evolve and revolutionize across the league, a growing trend is the use of motion, jet sweeps and orbits. It’s an easy way to get the ball into a playmaker’s hands, force the defense to show their hand, or even just stretch out a defense horizontally before the snap. Sean McVay and the Rams have been at the forefront of this wrinkle, pacing the NFL with 36 jet sweeps in 2018—25 of those sweeps led to passes, and 11 were handed off. The Chargers were second, off in the distance with 20 (one pass, 19 runs). Not far behind L.A. was the Patriots, who were third with 18 (four passes, 14 runs).
The Seahawks, despite their relatively unimaginative offense, were among a fairly large group outside the top three, joined by the Saints, Chiefs, Vikings, Bears and Colts. Of the 12 jet sweeps Seattle ran in 2018, they threw out of it three times, handing it off nine times (per Sports Info Solutions). Lockett, the one crossing the formation on the jet sweep more often than not, had a career-high 13 carries in 2018.
Though they were towards the top of the league this past season, there is no reason for that number not to grow in 2019. There are numerous benefits to pre-snap motion, as outlined above, and absolutely no downside.
When Lockett is given the ball on a sweep, he is the immediate threat that he is anywhere else on the field in space.
And even when he doesn’t get the ball, the threat of Lockett taking a handoff can force the defense to make a decision. Against the Cardinals in 2017, the payoff came with Arizona flowing with Lockett to the boundary side before pitching it to an explosive playmaker in J.D. McKissic on the field side.
Lockett’s impact in 2018 was massive, producing a career year which coincided with Doug Baldwin’s first truly injury riddled season. The offense faltered periodically throughout the season, but Lockett remained a constant. The Seahawks can continue to benefit from Lockett’s outstanding play in 2019, while helping along the rest of the team’s skill position players—and Russell Wilson—just by utilizing jet motion a couple extra times a game.