In 2018, with Doug Baldwin hampered by knee injuries even before the season began, Tyler Lockett took on heightened responsibility in the Seahawks’ offense, rewarding the team with career highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns. Lockett officially became Seattle’s new number-one wide receiver ahead of 2019, with Baldwin retiring in the offseason. Lockett’s added responsibility hasn’t had any negative impact on his play, with the fifth year receiver on pace for career highs in major receiving categories for a second season in a row.
On Tuesday, I spoke with Tyler Lockett about the impact Baldwin had on him, a pair of new arrivals in the wide receiver room, what to expect from Quandre Diggs, and how he deals with anxiety.
I wanted to start by asking you about a former teammate, Doug Baldwin. What’s different about the wide receiver room now that he is gone, and what impact did he have on you?
It’s different. I think everything that he represented and everything that he brought to the Seahawks everyday is definitely missed, like his passion and his dedication to the game. I think he motivated a lot of players to continue to stay hungry and dedicated, and just try to prove everybody wrong that doubted you throughout your whole entire life, or even people now, the critics. Everyday, he had something to prove and just being able to have that chip on his shoulder, that’s one of the things that everybody likes about him, and one of the things that was displayed whenever he played, day in and day out.
For me, that’s the thing that I loved just being able to have him there because that was that incentive—where you weren’t going to let anybody tell you what you could or couldn’t do, or you weren’t going to allow anybody to stop you from achieving what you set out to achieve. So I think that him doing that, and what he came to represent, was something that allowed me to want to compete and stay true to myself, and represent in the same way.
Is there something you think the receiver group needed, that Josh Gordon will bring to the team?
The fact that we brought Josh Gordon to the team, I think, is going to be an amazing feature. I think that there’s so many ways that we can continue to utilize him. He’s really great at his speed, and just being able to get open and catch the ball, and I think that is going to put a lot of teams into a place where they have to pick and choose what they’re gonna do. We’ve got a lot of big receivers, and a lot of fast receivers that can run go balls and that can create separation and get open, and I think that is going to help us down the road a lot.
You mention speed, size and the ability to get open, which brings me to my next question: What has impressed you the most about DK Metcalf so far?
The way that he has approached the game. Obviously, he feels like he has a lot to prove just because of how many receivers were taken in front of him. Everybody thought that he wasn’t going to pan out, and I got to see him every single day, and I got to see how good he really is, and I get to see that he can continue to go far. Just being able to see the type of player he is right now, just seeing how good he is at this moment in his life and this stage, his first year in the NFL. I’m excited to see how he is going to continue to develop, and how much better he’s going to continue to get as he continues to get comfortable in our offense, and just comfortable playing in the NFL.
A lot was made last year of the perfect passer rating Russell Wilson had targeting you, and you made a comment after the Week 1 win against the Bengals that you were happy you got a drop out of the way so people wouldn’t talk about it as much. Is there something you can credit with making your connection with Wilson so, for lack of a better word, automatic?
It’s being able to have that trust factor, and just trying to make the best out of every opportunity that we have. It’s not really a set equation, or “how do we get this done, how is this possible?” I think it’s just our faith in God that allows us to really test the waters and see how far we can really go with playing the game, and seeing what our limits really are, and if there are types of limits in our lives. But I think that each and everyday, we surprise ourselves just with, how much further we can continue to take this game just by continuing to have faith in God, and by continuing to push ourselves to see what do we struggle with and how can we get better with that. It’s just trying to display and let our light shine every single day.
You mention the idea of getting better, and at least from an outsider’s perspective, your production has taken another forward step in 2019. Was there something you had focused on as an area of improvement ahead of the season, and if so, how has that manifested on the field?
I haven’t really tried to prove to anybody any of the things that I can do. I think the biggest thing is, I just have to understand what the role the Seahawks wanted me to be in, and wanted me to do, ever since I got there. So that was the biggest thing I focused on. Regardless of if you feel like you can do more, or you know you can do more, in order to make a team successful, you gotta do what they need you to do. So I always just focused on doing my part.
I just think that as the years continue to go throughout my time of being here, they continue to expand what they wanted me to do. As they continue to expand, I just try to continue to stretch myself, continue to see how far that I can really take this game. When you stretch yourself it’s uncomfortable, you see the good things you can do, you see the bad things you can do, but at the end of it all, when you stretch yourself, you’re way better than you were when you were only good at the things you were comfortable with.
I really don’t feel like I have to live up to anything, or prove anybody wrong anymore, or even try to prove myself right. I think that my faith in God has just allowed me to be more free and not try to figure out all these scenarios in my head, or if I’m going to be able to ball out this game, and just allow me to go play free and not worry about mistakes.
That leads us into something I was eager to ask you about. Recently, you were on Dr. Michael Gervais’s podcast, Finding Mastery, and I really appreciated the openness with which you talked about your history of anxiety. I know Dr. Gervais works closely with the Seahawks, is there any impact he’s had on your career, be it on or off the field?
Mike Gervais is a really good dude. There were times where I was dealing with anxiety a lot, and we kind of brainstormed together and I learned so much about the mind. How anxiety is developed, and ways to control it and not to run away from it. So I thought it was pretty cool to be on his podcast, just because, these are things a lot of people deal with on a daily basis, and they just don’t know what to do. A lot of people don’t even know that it’s called anxiety, or they don’t know if anxiety is a good thing or a bad thing. Which, it’s not a bad thing at all, it’s just... uncontrolled anxiety is just something that is hard to be able to control. Once it gets uncontrolled, that’s when it becomes something that’s hard to match, you gotta get back to controlling it, instead of running away from it.
I think that talking to Dr. Gervais, the cool thing is it allows you to continue to learn about the mind, it allows you to see like, as you grew up, the type of barrier you set for yourself, the type of limitation you set for yourself. I think that the mind tries to do so much with being able to find equations as to like “don’t do this,” because a lot of the time you didn’t like the result, but if you do this again you might end up with the better result. There is no equation to success, there is no equation to getting blessed by God or just any stuff, you just gotta be able to respond to whatever comes your way, and just live in the now, and be yourself. As I talked to Dr. Gervais, as we continued to just talk about different things and brainstorm, those are some of the cool things that you start to learn about.
Shifting gears here and looking ahead on the schedule, what’s it like to play against Richard Sherman, now that he’s on the other side? Does he spare you from his famous trash talk?
It’s pretty cool to play against Sherm, and I thought it was pretty cool to play against Earl as well. These are people who I practiced with every single day, and they allowed me to continue to get better. They helped to expand my game mentally, physically, just with sometimes getting the best of me or me getting the best of them.
But I think the biggest thing is, is just being able to enjoy the moment. These are guys that are going to be in the Hall of Fame when they’re done playing, so just being able to have a chance to not only be on their team, but say that you went against them, I think that’s something that I will forever be able to take with me. There’s a lot of people who wish that they got to play against them who were on the same team, but they only ended up on teams together, they never played against each other. I don’t treat it differently, it’s just somebody that you know that’s on another team and you just gotta continue to approach it the same, and not really make it bigger than what it is, if that makes sense.
Speaking of somebody you know on another team, your reaction to the Seahawks’ acquisition of Quandre Diggs was great, and I think shows the relationship you two already have. I would love to hear what you think Seahawks fans can expect from Quandre Diggs when he makes his debut?
I was very excited when we got Quandre, I never thought that we were going to be on the same team. We always played each other when I was in K-State and he was in Texas, and I even played against him when he was in Detroit and I was here in Seattle.
The fact that we were able to acquire him is very exciting because, at Texas they had him playing corner but he was a safety when he came in from high school, and then all of a sudden when he came to the league Detroit had him playing nickel. At one point, they finally allowed him to be a safety, and he displayed everything that he can do: How he’s a ball hawk, how he can make those tackles, and I think that Pete and them have seen that ever since he came in the league. I think that’s one of the things that they really have liked about him, and now I’m excited to be able to see him play and how he fits in with our team, and with our culture.
Russell Wilson, DK Metcalf, Jacob Hollister and yourself all enjoyed terrific games in Week 9 against the Buccaneers, but it was you who came away with the Snickers Chain for the NFL’s hungriest player in Week 9—do you want to talk about that for a moment?
That was a blessing. I never thought I would be in that position to win, and Austin had called me and told me that I won the Snickers chain. It was crazy, because I was actually at Crab Pot with Quandre and some more of my family, and I had a Snickers in my pocket. I showed Austin, and so it was pretty cool.
I got to meet with them yesterday so they could take pictures of me being awarded the Snickers chain, and I just thought it was really cool out of everybody they could have picked, especially who had a really good game, they chose me, and so I’m very humble because of that.
Ben Baller made the chain, and it’s crazy because Ben Baller is like a big time Seahawks fan, and last week I saw he had posted a picture and he’s actually wearing a 16 jersey, so I just thought that was pretty crazy, as well as pretty cool at the same time. He could wear anybody’s jersey for the Seahawks, especially when I first got here, and the fact that he’s a die hard 12’s fan, and I think he’s even coming to the game when we play San Fran. It was just real big time. I know he was happy that a Seahawks player finally won, and I was just happy just to be able to get that opportunity to be the Snickers hungriest player of Week 9, as well as being able to pass it along to whoever wins it next.