Tyler Lockett had a truly magnificent and historically great 2018 NFL season for the Seattle Seahawks. A career-high ten touchdowns, a staggering 57 catches on just 70 targets for 965 yards, and a perfect QB rating for Russell Wilson of 158.3 when he threw Tyler’s way. How does #1 in DVOA and DYAR sound to you? Had Lockett not had a breakout year at a time when Doug Baldwin was hobbled, I am almost certain Seattle would’ve never made the playoffs.
Lockett now has a new contract, and with Doug Baldwin’s health already a major concern entering 2019, he might assume an even bigger role in the offense this upcoming season.
I suppose the major reason Lockett’s 2018 made us so damn giddy was the fact that he didn’t have a particularly great 2016 (even before the terrible leg break) or 2017, so this was an important year for the former Kansas State star to show himself as a long-term viable receiver in Seattle’s offense. He did that and then some, but it’s often forgotten that Lockett was a massive contributor during the Seahawks’ second-half surge in 2015. Doug Baldwin may have had the historic stretch of touchdown receptions, but Lockett was making some brilliant plays of his own.
Over the final seven games of the 2015 regular season, Lockett caught 30 passes on 40 targets for 404 yards and five touchdowns. Here are a few highlights that stood out to me as a foreshadowing of his breakout 2018 campaign.
It’s your standard deep drop off of play-action, and frankly Russell Wilson’s pass is slightly underthrown. Lockett still does a great job of shielding his body so that he’s in the advantageous position to make a play over Tramaine Brock. This was his first career receiving touchdown.
First off, look at the cleanliness of that pocket! It’s enough time for Wilson to find Lockett racing past Minnesota Vikings DB George Blanton, then nestling that ball perfectly in between Blanton and safety Antone Exum. Lockett does tremendously well to absorb the very illegal hit by Exum and hold on for the catch.
Lardarius Webb started his career as a cornerback, tore his ACL in 2012, and moved to free safety in 2016. There is no safety help to be found here and Webb didn’t have a chance in open space against the speed of Lockett. This was the dagger against the Baltimore Ravens that made it 28-6.
Jimmie Ward probably wish he could’ve jammed Lockett at the line of scrimmage. Instead, Lockett’s footwork results in an instant win off the snap, and he’s got separation. Russell Wilson had the easy task and hit Lockett in stride, with Eric Reid left to just resign himself to a touchdown. Route running matters a whole lot in this league.
This was my favorite Lockett play of them all. Wilson diagnoses the blitz pre-snap, as then- Carolina Panthers CB Josh Norman peels off Lockett and goes for Russ. Fred Jackson picks it up pretty easily, leaving Lockett with just safety Kurt Coleman in his sights. It’s an excellent throw by Wilson under pressure but an even better catch by Lockett, who had to gain enough separation to get underneath the ball and stay in bounds. One knee = Two Feet. Touchdown. While not quite the same play and with much better coverage, it sure has some similarities to the TD he had against the Chicago Bears.
The funny thing is this probably wasn’t even Lockett’s most impressive catch of the Panthers playoff loss, but we don’t usually see him do the toe-tappers at the frequency of Baldwin, so I left it out. I’d argue the five plays I spotlighted are a better representation of what made Lockett a force to be reckoned with.
(P.S: Pete Carroll should’ve gone for two on this TD)’
The Wilson to Lockett connection was quite conceivably the most encouraging development from last season. If it can get even stronger from here (read: continued success with more targets), then the rest of the NFL is in deep trouble.