When I started writing this article, the news had yet to break that Tyler Lockett landed in COVID protocols and is likely to miss this next game. DK Metcalf’s injury may not be overly severe, although he did miss practice this week as was reported Thursday. I’m just throwing that out there to say whatever bad fortune this stream of consciousness is precipitating, I swear it is not my intention. Moving on.
2021 has been rough on the Seattle Seahawks in many ways, but at least one consistent ray of positivity remains: Seattle is one of the best in the league at avoiding negative plays from dropped passes. Judging by both volume (number of drops) and the associated negative hit to Expected Points that comes with the territory, Seattle is third in the league in total EPA lost to dropped passes with only 11 such plays on the season. See the chart below for more info.
For more information, please consult your local Pro Football Reference. pic.twitter.com/5UX8Wd1qhS— Stan 'the boy' Taylor (@GoodGuyAtSports) December 16, 2021
Now, Tyler Lockett has demonstrated consistency since day one. And, as has come to be more or less expected, he has zero drops on the season. Somewhat surprisingly, however, he is actually behind both D.K. Metcalf and Will Dissly with regards to passer rating when targeted. He only has one more target than Metcalf on the season, although he has been torching secondaries to the tune of 1,023 yards and is looking to have a career year on his hands. Now, since the NFL’s COVID protocols have been loosened a bit for vaccinated players, Lockett is unlikely to miss more than one game (and potentially zero, though that would be pretty optimistic at this point).
But I would like to focus on another player for a moment; since coming into the league, DK Metcalf has had a lot of narratives swirling around his name, and while he has easily cleared nearly every hurdle that has come his way, he also had 15 drops over his first two seasons. According to Pro Football Reference, this had him near the top of the list for qualifying receivers in number of drops in ‘19 and ‘20. Interestingly enough, Tyler Lockett also had 8 drops last season, leading to a 6.1% rate. Of course, he had zero in 2018 and only two the following season, so this single-season increase while also seeing a massive uptick in targets (career high of 132 last season) is likely to be more of an aberration than anything else.
The only player that I could notice who is doing markedly worse this season in this particular category is Will Dissly, who admittedly has had some visible issues with securing passes at times. Up until 2021, though, he had a grand total of 1 drop on 70 career targets, earning him a Lockett-ian 1.4% rate. I am optimistic that this is not an area of concern for Diss, but more likely a focus for growth as his role shifts under Shane Waldron.
Ultimately, I am really happy to see this data. While Seattle’s offense has largely been a mixed bag this season, the fact that the team has continued to manage to minimize negative plays from drops while also seeing their stalwart signal caller miss time for the first stretch in his career is impressive, to say the least. Whether this is more of a factor of scheme, coaching, or simply having players with hands that naturally secrete stick-em, I cannot say. But if I had to guess its a combination of the above factors. And whatever the reason, in a tough season like this one, I am happy to see this offense have something to hang their collective hats on.