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Waldron-22: Dee Eskridge has a career day

All of Eskridge’s receptions gained first downs.

Arizona Cardinals v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

Dee Eskridge had three catches for the Seattle Seahawks during their home victory over the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday. According to StatHead, this is only the second time in his young career that he has accomplished this feat, with the other happening last December against fellow NFC West rivals, the San Francisco 49ers. This literally doubled his number of receptions on the season, and more than tripled his yardage; up until Sunday, he had 3 catches for 16 yards. All three of his touches went for first downs, and he ended the game with a new personal best in yards-per-catch (13.0). While these may seem like pedestrian feats, the bigger story here is simply that Eskridge made a significant impact in a game and left the stadium seemingly healthy. While the second-year wideout has a ways to go before he lives up to his 2nd round draft status, games like this are a great step on the way to becoming a legitimate third option behind Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. Roll the tape!

Interesting formation in the first play; Eskridge and Lockett are the only WRs on the field, as the team lines up in a tight formation in the pistol with 12-personnel. Lockett and Colby Parkinson are both slotted just outside the tackles, with Will Dissly in a three-point stance outside of Lockett on the right. Eskridge is just outside of Parkinson. Dee and Diss run quick hitches, with Parkinson and Lockett scooting out to the flats. Easy read and an easy completion on 2nd and short, and it sets up Dee for a quick turn-and-run to gain a few yards after the catch. Love to see Waldron calling a safe but aggressive play on second and short and not simply playing just to move the sticks.

On the second play, the Seahawks spread things out and line up in a double-flex spread, with Tyler Lockett wide right and Marquise Goodwin wide left. Dissly is slotted right, with Eskridge opposite him. Much like the first play, Dee and Dissly mirror each other’s routes and run quick slants. Lockett and Goodwin stay at home as safety valves, and Geno is able to deliver a quick hitter to Eskridge, at which point something special happens: Dee stops on a proverbial dime, leaving Isaiah Simmons on the ground as he over-pursues the shifty receiver, and Eskridge slips by him for a few extra yards and another first down. While this move doesn’t end up eating a ton of field, I still find it impressive to see him making a cut like this and accelerating out of it so swiftly to set up a potentially much bigger gain. In Waldron’s offense, which seems to offer a fair amount of opportunities for yards after catch, Dee’s shiftiness with the ball in his hands may prove to be electrifying if he can keep it up.’

In the third and final play, the team goes back to a tight formation in 12-personnel, with Eskridge on the left and Lockett right. Dissly and Fant are the tight ends on the field, and Noah motions across the formation pre-snap. This looks like a variation on the naked bootleg that I featured a couple weeks back, only this time the Cardinals do a great job of containing Geno before he really gets the opportunity to boot out right. Instead, he finds Eskridge crossing over the middle and delivers a strike just before the pass rushers can reach him. Great decision here as the Cardinals bring pressure and rush six guys. Fant and Lockett are running a deep combo, which stresses the defense, which is a bit thin on the back end due to the extra pressure up front. Good play and even better execution. Eskridge finds room in front of him and picks up his third first down on his third catch on the day.

Following the game, Pete Carroll praised Eskridge’s performance; he even went so far as to compare him to former Seahawk and fellow second-round receiver Golden Tate, who similarly took a couple seasons to really establish himself in the NFL.

Much like Tate, Eskridge came into the league with a ton of talent and upside, but has yet to translate that into on-field production. Another player who comes to mind is Paul Richardson, who was yet another 2nd round receiver who struggled through injuries and inconsistency early in his career. While Richardson provides more of a cautionary tale, as he never eclipsed his final season with the Seahawks, Tate is a much more optimistic take for the young receiver. At this point, the team simply has to be happy to see him making the most of his touches and staying healthy. Sure, some players like DK Metcalf burst onto the scene and never look back. But other players — including not only Tate but also Tyler Lockett — develop over several seasons before turning into a dominant pass catcher. Of course, Dee is a bit older than many second year players, so his margin for error may be even thinner; here’s hoping that Sunday’s victory over the Cardinals is his first big step on the way to showing why this team felt good enough about the former Western Michigan Broncos burner to take him with the 56th selection in the draft.