Week 11 was a highlight reel of the NFL’s best receivers, and with the Seattle Seahawks on bye, they were left out of the fun.
It also served to highlight something that’s been true of the Seahawks for a long time. It’s been largely ignored, in part because it’s a bit unsavory to discuss.
DK Metcalf makes all the money, gets the GIFs, but he doesn’t make some of the plays we saw this week. It’s not his game, and in reality he’s on the verge of living in a world of hype that was appropriate for his first and second seasons but not anymore.
Not until he can do something like this:
JUSTIN JEFFERSON CATCH OF THE CENTURY. pic.twitter.com/Cos6v0yPIC— Field Yates (@FieldYates) November 13, 2022
.@Raiders @tae15adams put on a pass catching clinic Sunday including his 10th TD catch of the season in OT to secure the W. Just a master surgeon at his craft. We all can learn by watching. #RaiderNation #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/F3uvuxMDGN— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) November 21, 2022
Don’t forget this guy who takes one of the best catches of the year and attributes only to Patrick Mahomes:
This is one of the top 3-5 throws Mahomes has ever made.— Matt Verderame (@MattVerderame) November 21, 2022
Considering who Mahomes is, that’s saying something
THIS COLE KMET CATCH— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 20, 2022
Metcalf is a good receiver. He has one particular skill that elevates his game, but he doesn’t produce at tippy-top level, and he won’t until he fixes something. And no, it’s not Geno Smith’s fault, nor was it Russell Wilson’s fault.
In fact, According to a semi-comprehensive analysis by FiveThirtyEight, Tyler Lockett is the Seattle receiver with at least one truly elite skill.
Lockett as the fifth overall is remarkable considering he had almost the worst yards after catch on the entire page. Expected.
But DK came in at 35 with no individual score that placed him in the top-10 in any category. Take one small study for what it is, with caveats and bias and whatever else you do or don’t like. But the fact remains that Metcalf has neither progressed in his ability to make degree-of-difficulty catches nor his pure catching ability.
His career, in fact, can almost be summed up with a simple question:
When you think of DK Metcalf, what comes to mind?
For most of the NFL world, it’s his muscles.
That’s not an overstatement.
Look at @dkm14's bicep. pic.twitter.com/ObWduwCB0C— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) November 7, 2022
.@dkm14 is too strong. @Seahawks driving quickly to start the second half.— NFL (@NFL) November 13, 2022
: #SEAvsTB on @NFLNetwork
: Stream on NFL+ https://t.co/M32DOvVAld pic.twitter.com/hEx7dt7raP
That run after catch against a puny little mortal corner is one of the things Metcalf does best. But therein we run into three problems.
I want to say one thing here - I am glad DK Metcalf is on the Seahawks. He’s fun, he’s very good, and
Where are Yards after Catch?
The defensive players who don’t look dwarfed by Metcalf are all on the line and don’t cover him. Some guys gain 3-4 yards by making a defender miss; DK tends to punch their ear and keep running.
Yet it doesn’t actually often work that way. Metcalf has 135 yards after catch this season. If he doubled that, he’d still be outside the top-20 this year. In fact there’s 19 guys with over 300 YAC already.
The issue here is that Metcalf can’t really make guys miss, and dragging a dude has its limitations. He’s among the best locks in the game to not immediately go down, but that doesn’t guarantee first downs or big plays.
Too strong for the team?
You’ve seen it. Among the most obvious results of DK Metcalf refusal to be tackled is when the fifth defender runs up and politely borrows the football from the statue of St. Metcalf.
DK Metcalf fumble— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 13, 2022
Necessitating a third party in order to be tackled could be great, but not at this cost. He has seven fumbles in four seasons.
Strong Hands, Will Work When Convenient
The other area where the Muscles of Metcalf show themselves are on the tightly-contested body catches.
DK Metcalf is so strong through contact. Second touchdown on the day! #Seahawks pic.twitter.com/Fs5dxL3tKB— Samuel Gold (@SamuelRGold) November 1, 2020
This, right here, is near the top of what got Metcalf paid. He seriously looks like Thanos with pesky Peter Parker trying to drive a knife into his back while calmly going about his world-beating business.
But get those hands away from his chest, and they don’t look anything like the gauntlet of power. He’s at 62.3% catch rate right now with six drops, which is statistically in between his Pro Bowl 2020 and his other two seasons.
Which leads us to the original premise. Seattle paid a wide receiver top-12 money for a talent that doesn’t function like a traditional top-12 talent. At some things, he’s unbelievable. At others, less than ordinary even.
My issue is not with Metcalf whatsoever, or even the contract really, it’s more amusing at this point that he still gets called such lofty titles, nicknames, praise, when he has let the Jeffersons, A.J Browns, and others separate themselves from him.
I also think Shane Waldron is an unbelievable coach and he’s actually trying to figure this very thing out this season. It just hasn’t worked yet. Metcalf should be a better YAC receiver than he is, and they’re trying to unlock it.
If he’s able to tighten up one of these little weaknesses, it’s very likely he’ll re-earn the status he currently enjoys.