John Ursua will have more receptions than all of the other Seattle Seahawks rookies combined
Think about it. Though 2nd round rookie receiver D.K. Metcalf has received rave reviews all offseason, he is coming off a knee injury and struggled to see consistent playing time in college due to injury.
Furthermore, Metcalf’s skillset likely limits his year 1 route tree to posts, gos and hitches. While he may be an explosive deep threat, these are the sorts of targets unlikely to result in more than 3 receptions a game.
Plus, Tyler Lockett is at his best going deep and Metcalf won’t be able to purge his target share. On the subject of Lockett, there is no other receiver on the roster who can play in the slot—asides from John Ursua that is. Meanwhile, the outside receiver role is crowded with Jaron Brown, Malik Turner, Gary Jennings, and the injured David Moore all best as “X” receivers.
Ursua showed himself to be a stud in the preseason at recognizing defensive coverages and quickly getting open. His comprehension of ways to create separation is rare for a rookie; the only thing keeping him off the field at this point is a lack of playbook knowledge. He should become a regular fixture in 11 personnel (1 running back, 1 tight end and 3 wide receivers) sets.
Mychal Kendricks will have more sacks than Ezekiel Ansah
Sacks are a random stat. There are so many near-sacks that don’t materialize into the sweet dollar dollar play. Sacks come in flurries. Ezekiel Ansah has plenty to prove in an incentive-laden one-year deal, but so does Mychal Kendricks as he awaits his sentencing in January.
Ansah will obviously get more pass-rushing opportunities from the wide-attacking LEO spot. Yet durability is a natural concern when it comes to his game plus he needs more reps. His injury status will surely see him kept to a pitch count whereas Carroll has repeatedly spoke about finding ways to get Kendricks’ speed on the field even with Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright occupying the two linebacker positions that stay on the field in the majority personnel—nickel.
In the preseason, Seattle showed a ton of 3-deep, 3-under zone pressures that sent the SAM linebacker on a blitz. As the Seahawks hunt to replace the lost production of Frank Clark and Jacob Martin, calling such plays will be a more common exercise—even with the addition of Jadeveon Clowney.
The current composition of the Seattle roster also suggests Kendricks will be given sub-rush package opportunities off the EDGE. The Seahawks 53 is devoid of any pure-speed or finesse rusher, following Martin’s departure to Houston and the cutting of Cassius Marsh. Without any light bend to threaten the back corners of the pocket, Kendricks may be asked to step up as Seattle looks to maximize his value. His high motor could get to the quarterback at least 6 times.
Russell Wilson will lead the league in passing touchdowns
Brian Schottenheimer and Russell Wilson had something going by the end of the season. The offensive coordinator used play-design that was perfectly catered to his quarterback, for instance the max-protect two-deep play-action.
Schotty’s patterns won’t change this year; but the run-pass balance might. The Seahawks needed to pass more on early downs to avoid backing themselves into the deadly corner of a 3rd and long obvious passing down. Using play-action at the 5th highest rate towards the end of 2018 suggests Schotty “gets it.”
Even if Seattle chooses to be totally stubborn, the situation may be taken out of their hands in terms of passing the football more. The defense still has serious question marks in the defensive backfield, with Shaquill Griffin looking for a bounce-back year three, Tre Flowers looking to avoid that dreaded year two slide and Tedric Thompson not being suited to the cover-3 post safety role. It looks like the Seahawks have numerous potential shootouts on their schedule, duelling with the: Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, New Orleans Saints, Philadelphia Eagles, Atlanta Falcons, and Los Angeles Rams (twice of course).
Whatever the case, after defying the typical trend of year 1 OC regression, we can expect Wilson and Schotty to build on their maiden-season numbers. 50 passing touchdowns from Patrick Mahomes in 2018 led the league; Wilson could be on for a 4000 passing yards, 45 touchdown year that just sneaks the passing TDs NFL-high while losing the MVP vote to the higher yardage of a player like Drew Brees. He’s in an offense that provides him with the ideal passing concepts.
These may initially seem stupidly rash, but there is some thought behind the predictions—even if they are still a bit silly. We’ll review how I got on mid-season and at the end of 2019. If you’d like to hear me talking about the calls in more detail, plus hear some other “bold predictions”, listen to the first edition of Seattle Overload, a new Seahawks podcast.