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DK Metcalf has had an odd, frustrating start to the 2021 season

Tennessee Titans v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

It’s just two games. Eight quarters and a few minutes of overtime. But this is not the start I think anyone envisioned for DK Metcalf.

The third-year Seattle Seahawks sensation had 6 catches for only 53 yards on 11 targets in Sunday’s stunning overtime loss against the Tennessee Titans. Roughly half of Russell Wilson’s nine incomplete passes were towards Metcalf. He didn’t have any drops, but his splash plays were non-existent, he was tightly covered on multiple sideline routes, and once again he’s was getting into it with the opposition. At -3.2 he had the worst total EPA of any Seahawks offensive skill position player and only two of his catches yielded first downs.

But perhaps worse than his ineffectiveness offensively was his destructiveness with penalties. Wide receivers are not supposed to be penalized this often. Twice he committed holding and on a screen pass he had the rare hold/offensive pass interference double penalty. Last week against the Indianapolis Colts, he had a false start on the opening drive and then an unsportsmanlike conduct flag after a Gerald Everett touchdown. I’ve harped on this stupid enforcement of taunting but while the rule is in place, Metcalf is really going to have to watch himself or else he is absolutely going to get ejected from a game and hurt the team in the process.

Even Metcalf’s productivity in the Colts was a bit unorthodox, as he had no targets in the 1st half before getting 4/60/1 on five throws his way (really it was six but one was an aborted screen pass Wilson threw into the dirt).

Two games played, five penalties committed, 10 catches (on 16 targets) for 113 yards and a touchdown. Those aren’t the numbers of a superstar. That’s 2016 Jermaine Kearse.

What I find most fascinating is the way he’s been used. According to Pro Football Reference, his ADOT (average depth of target whether it’s completed or not) is just 7.1 yards. For reference, Metcalf’s ADOT was 13.7 in 2020 and 13.0 in his rookie season. ADOT of 7.1 yards even on a two-game sample size is very underwhelming and more apt for tight ends. His 15.4 ADOT against the Colts was cancelled out by a ridiculously pitiful 3.4 ADOT vs. Tennessee.

I find it bizarre that he has (thus far) only had one pass thrown his way 20+ yards down the field. Spamming 2-3 yard quick outs (which Seattle did a few times vs. Tennessee) with no hope of YAC just to feed him the ball seems close to pointless if not a complete misuse of DK’s strengths.

Perhaps DK doesn’t fit Shane Waldron’s offense the same way Tyler Lockett does. It’s still too early to tell. What I do know is that the Seahawks need better games out of Metcalf and he needs to keep his emotions in check before something catastrophic happens.