When the Seahawks lost Will Dissly for the second time in as many years, it was even more devastating than it was last September. Not only was it tough to swallow that a young star would lose another year but Dissly was having an All-Pro type campaign and Seattle had few other options at tight end.
Nick Vannett had been traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ed Dickson was, and is, on injured reserve. Luke Willson was still a free agent.
And then there was Jacob Hollister.
At that point, it seemed as though Russell Wilson would have to focus more attention on Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, and ... well, what’s the point of me naming and more names, even as a joke? Jaron Brown, David Moore, C.J. Prosise. Even the ones who were active each week weren’t doing much to ease the loss of Dissly and Wilson, Brian Schottenheimer “forcing” it to whichever person was lining up in the George Fant position didn’t seem like a smart plan either.
Frick the idea of a “smart” plan then.
Hollister — a 25-year-old undrafted player out of Wyoming with 16 career targets over two seasons with the New England Patriots — was called up to the active roster from the practice squad on October 12. A native of Bend, Oregon, Hollister started as a quarterback at Nevada, transferred to Arizona Western College, transitioned to tight end, and mosied to Wyoming, as Wyoman’s tend to do.
(Dear Spell Check: How do you feel about the words “mosied” and “Wyomans” because the red squiggles say “No, Ken.”)
He had 355 yards in 2015 and 515 yards with seven touchdowns in 2016. He weighed 239 and ran a 4.64 at his pro day. Comparable measurements at the 2017 combine for tight ends included Gerald Everett, the LA Rams second round pick, and Jonnu Smith, a third round pick of the Tennessee Titans. And when I say “comparable” I mean that Hollister is virtually the exact same size and speed as Everett and Smith.
But understandably variables such as “Wyoming” came into play (Everett played at SOUTH Alabama, Smith at Florida International, so maybe college rep isn’t the key here) and Hollister wasn’t drafted. The New England Patriots signed both him and his twin brother Cody Hollister, a current receiver on the Titans.
Hollister also wasn’t long for New England.
The Patriots traded Hollister to the Seahawks for a seventh round pick two years after they traded Justin Coleman to the Seahawks for a seventh round pick. The ROI for Seattle on these trades with Bill Belichick should be enough for John Schneider to be Exec of the Year, but hell, don’t put that curse on him.
When Dissly went down, Hollister got an opportunity to be on the roster but no guarantee that he’d be on the field, let alone that he’d get many significant targets from Russ, especially after Willson was reunited with his Super Bowl friends. After the last four weeks, it seems like it’s Hollister that could be leading the Seahawks to a Super Bowl this time. (Let me have my moment.)
His six targets against the Baltimore Ravens could have been a fluke.
His two targets against the Atlanta Falcons suggested that it was.
His six targets against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were another mark in favor of Wilson’s favoritism.
And his 10 targets against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football, even over four quarters and overtime, suggest that Hollister’s place in the offense isn’t being replaced without a significant downturn in the next couple of games. Especially given that Hollister caught the game-winning touchdown against the Bucs in OT and nearly had the game-winning touchdown against the 49ers in OT.
I paraphrased with a quick transcription from the live press conference Tuesday some things Carroll had to say about Hollister:
“Jacob’s just a good ball player. He’s a really good football player. He’s tough as hell. He’s delivering blows, taking hits, competing like crazy. When a guy is good on special teams, blocks, and catches the football. I think he’s going to be a tremendous athlete for us. I don’t think this is a fluke. He’s learned well.”
Carroll compared Hollister to Lockett and Russ in that they “just understand ball” and that “the transition and communication seems to be wide open and fluid and you can benefit from that.” He says he’s encouraged by Hollister’s blocking.
On the touchdown vs the 49ers: “It was a beautiful touchdown play. Those two guys thought it could happen and they saw it that way. That’s a special guy. You can tell. That’s why he’s been able to be a part of this thing so quickly.”
—Listen to the Seaside Reactions podcast, an instant reaction podcast after every Seahawks game! New episode out now!—
Overall, Hollister has been targeted 24 times in the last four weeks, catching 17 passes for 137 yards and three touchdowns. The yards may not be mind-blowing, but that is an unusually high amount of targets for any Wilson target over the last 7.5 years.
Coming into this season, Tyler Lockett has a career high of 70 targets.— Field Gulls (@FieldGulls) November 12, 2019
Over the last four games, Jacob Hollister has been targeted 24 times, a full season pace of 96 targets.
Doug Baldwin led the team with 73 targets on 2018.
Jimmy Graham’s Seattle-high in targets was 96 times in 2017.
Paul Richardson’s high was 80 targets in 2017.
Luke Willson’s high was 40.
Hollister has clearly developed a relationship with Wilson — or at least with Schottenheimer and Carroll to get in this position — that few have. I don’t know what it means and I don’t know how long it lasts, but I do know that these last four games alone are unique enough to warrant mention.
And now I have.