When Dee Eskridge got his first touch in the preseason, I got excited. When the rookie got his first touch in the regular season, I nearly jumped out of my seat. While using a slightly different formation and design, the team ran a very similar play, with nearly identical results. You can see the two clips below for comparison.
Will Dissly and Gerald Everett with some very nice blocking on Dee Eskridge's first NFL touch pic.twitter.com/lzdOGqJ73f— Parker (@ParkerLewes) August 29, 2021
Dee Eskridge has elite wheels. When he runs a jet sweep, he just looks... different. Also, kudos to Gerald Everett for the kick out block to spring this play for 13 yards. #1 doesn't need much space to operate with his turbo button. #Seahawks pic.twitter.com/mvlpKJsKyG— Corbin K. Smith (@CorbinSmithNFL) September 15, 2021
But as you can most likely tell by the tweets above (and by the title of this article), this isn’t about Eskridge. This is about the dawning of the formidable duo that is Will Dissly and Gerald Everett — Tight Ends, Best Friends, and Hawks 4 Life (other than their positional certitude, I absolutely claim to have no knowledge of whether or not the two players are best friends and cannot guarantee the veracity of them being Hawks 4 life). And while their pass catching capabilities may be what earns them the most attention, seeing them do their parts to spring Eskridge for a couple big runs is huge, especially when they are doing so with such gusto.
In the first clip, you can see Dissly lead the charge with Everett close by his side as the two clear a path so broad that 2017 Eddie Lacy could have found some daylight. While Dissly is on the sideline for the second one, Everett uses his agility on his first step to help sell the play design and then utilizes his burst to get to the outside and put a hat on Julian Blackmon. If Everett doesn’t execute this perfectly, this play doesn’t go off (save for some heroics from the young speedster Eskridge). But before we proceed into the present, let’s take a few steps back for a minute.
When Seattle made Will Dissly a fourth round pick in 2018, many of us were patently happy with the selection of a local Dawg, especially one who was regarded as a plus blocking tight end coming out of college. And then he went ahead and did this.
While Dissly has proven to be a stable and willing blocker, his prowess as a receiver has endeared him to us all and turned him into a perpetually exciting player during the offseasons. While his career looked to have been derailed by some very unfortunate and brutal injuries in back-to-back seasons, he took a monumental step in 2020 and played the entire year. While he took a backseat in his role as a receiver — partially due to the confounding decision to sign and feature Greg Olsen (which, admittedly, may have served a part in keeping Dissly fresh for the entire season) — he continued to display solid blocking traits and an uncanny ability to get open when running routes. And this was under Brian Schottenheimer.
Now, under the offensive tutelage of Shane Waldron, and paired with the explosive and savvy Gerald Everett, Dissly looks to take another step in year four. And he might be finally paired with the right combo of teammates and coaching to do it. While the Rams tight ends were not overly active under McVay in his first couple seasons as HC, they upped the ante over the last two years, ranking 5th and 7th, respectively, in total receiving yards by Tight Ends, per StatMuse. For reference, Seattle was bottom-half of the league in every season during that same period except 2017, where they just barely crawled squarely into the middle-of-the-pack. And then they went and signed this guy.
Essa jogada foi anulada por um problema na formação. Mas belo desenho, belo trabalho da OL e que capacidade atlética de Gerald Everett pic.twitter.com/l8kDQtPHur— Rapinas do Mar (Cortes) (@cortesrapinas) September 12, 2021
While this play was called back due to illegal formation (uncovered tackle), Everett’s athleticism and explosion as a pass catcher are on prominent display. Gerald ran a 4.62 forty and was lauded for his “size, speed and tremendous run-after-catch potential,” in his NFL draft profile. Compare this to Dissly who ran a 4.87 forty, and you can start to see the “smash and dash” potential of this position group. Both players bring unique tool kits to the table, and you can see both of their skill sets in tandem in the play below.
Great play design and smooth execution leads to six for Seattle. DK Metcalf is aligned wide left, and he — along with Penny out of the backfield — draw three of the Colts defenders their direction, opening up the middle of the field. Will Dissly, the aforementioned do-it-all handyman, draws two Colts as he runs a shake route into the endzone. With Bobby Okereke and Kenny Moore II on Dissly, Tyler Lockett does Tyler Lockett and puts on a sweet double move that makes All-Pro Darius Leonard hesitate just enough that Wilson is able to find a crossing Everett over the middle for an easy six. Plays like this get me excited, not just for the focal point of this article but for Waldron’s offense in general: simple but deceptive concepts, schemes that create mismatches and wide open receivers, and use of pre-snap alignments to keep the offense in control and the defense on their heels. This strategy sounds basic by design but requires precise execution. And the Hawks may have found the right combination of personnel and coaching to field an offense that can embody a playbook that is both aggressive and sustainable.
Looking Toward the Future
Of course, after one week, Seattle didn’t exactly light the world on fire, amassing 57 total receiving yards by their talented duo. But I don’t think this one cumulative statistic tell the full tale; Russell Wilson found Gerald Everett for six, and Will Dissly made this happen:
Another angle of the Will Dissly stiff arm pic.twitter.com/7cEQSFFptv— Parker (@ParkerLewes) September 13, 2021
If you are like me, this clip has been on repeat in your household for much of the past week. File this one under “instant highlight hall of fame,” sharing a toast with Kam Chancellor’s hit on Vernon Davis and Marshawn Lynch’s stiff arm on Tracy Porter. While the latter moments were obviously much, much bigger in impact due to the games in which they occurred, I am hopeful that Dissly will have many more opportunities to bust out this soul crushing move as the season progresses and the games intensify. And, if nothing else, the Hawks took one small but critically important step this offseason; after years of trying to pair an aging veteran with a young TE corps (Ed Dickson, Greg Olsen), the front office may be seeing the value of bringing in a younger but still experienced player (Everett was drafted one year ahead of Dissly and is two years older). With the team set to take on the Tennessee Titans Sunday — who allowed zero receptions on four targets to tight ends in their otherwise demoralizing loss to the Arizona Cardinals — the Seahawks and their dynamic duet will get the opportunity to showcase their talents once again and build on their budding chemistry, this time — for the first time — in front of the twelves.