I get a lot of random messages via the email account that I set up specifically for the pseudonym that I use here on Field Gulls.
- These U.S. Cities Are Supporting the Seattle Seahawks
- Seahawks named as the 3rd most dominant team in the NFL over the past decade, research reveals
- Pete Carroll as Ken From Barbie? AI Image Generation Produces Hilarious Results
- The least annoying NFL fan bases; Seahawks fans rank #8
Note: The cities listed in the email for No. 1 are/were Seattle (obviously); Cleveland (with only 3,200 fewer followers* than Seattle !!); Washington D.C.; New York City (a distant fourth); and Berlin, Germany (which isn’t a U.S. city, but still made the Top 5).
* The survey’s results were based on Instagram followers, and I was shocked to learn that the Seahawks have 400,000 of them in Cleveland.
For No. 2, the top team is Kansas City with an average winning percentage of 72.2%. Green Bay is second at 62.4%, a mere 0.2% ahead of Seattle.
On No. 4, my interest was on which fan base was voted the most annoying and, somewhat surprisingly, it’s Seattle’s opponent this weekend: the Cincinnati Bengals.
Every once in a while though, I get an email that catches my attention - which is what happened when someone reached out to me about the article that was posted on Field Gulls on October 5th.
But . . .
Five out of the twelve words in the headline, plus 100% of the dek (aka the subhead below the headline) and 177 of the 1,452 words in the article itself (12.2%) were used to draw attention to the fact that, through four games, Tyler Lockett is/was well off the pace that we’ve become accustomed to (and hopeful for) the past few seasons.
Less than three hours after that post hit the internet, I got an email from someone who was “not totally comfortable with some of the contents of the article.”
Paraphrasing their objections:
One. Lockett is one of the best slot receivers in the game but has been moved from the slot this year which gives opposing defenses an advantage.
Two. Roughly a third of Lockett’s targets this year weren’t catchable, and two required him to become the defensive player to prevent an interception.
Three. It’s more likely that Lockett will land around 82 receptions, 1,020 yards, and 8 TDs than what my projections indicated (72-667-8.5).
I’ll be candid here . . .
My recollection of the first four games leads me to believe that No. 2 is accurate so I’m not going to spend 12 hours rewatching the games.
Also, math be damned, my heart wants to believe that Lockett will clear the 1,000-yard bar for the fifth consecutive season so, to the extent possible, I won’t push back on No. 3 either - at least not too much.
I am going to disprove No. 1 though . . .
. . . and, along the way, I’m going to deliver some more “bad news” to my heart.
Or run away; your call.
Lockett’s “move” from the slot
It’s definitely fair to point out that Lockett’s usage this season is different than it’s been in seasons past.
Given that Seattle has been without both of their starting tackles since the second half of their first game, I think it’s fair to point out that basically everything about Seattle’s offense has been different than in years past.
But Lockett’s “move” from the slot is NOT new.
In the Bonus Coverage section at the end of this article, I lay out Lockett’s game-by-game usage over the first four weeks of the last five seasons (2019-2023), including how many snaps he took in the slot and how many he took “outside” in each of those games.
For now though, I’ll summarize:
- 2019: Slot usage first 4 games = 69.6% | season total = 66.1%
- 2020: First 4 games = 58.8% | season = 56.9%
- 2021: Slot usage first 4 = 28.5% | season total = 37.2%
- 2022: First 4 games = 40.4% | season = 38.1%
- 2023: Slot usage first 4 games = 34.8% (season total is the same so far)
Is Lockett’s 34.8% slot usage this year lower than it was in 2019 when he was at 69.6% through the first four games and finished the year at 66.1%?
It’s lower than his 58.8% slot usage through four games (and 56.9% overall) during the 2020 season as well.
But it’s higher than the 28.5% slot usage that Lockett saw over the first four games of the 2021 season and it isn’t all that much lower than the rest of Lockett’s usage numbers from the last two seasons.
So, yes, Lockett is being used in the slot less than he was earlier in his career. This isn’t a new development though; it’s simply the continuation of a change that was clearly implemented when Shane Waldron took over as the Offensive Coordinator.
I suppose that could be a coincidence . . .
. . . but it’s probably not.
Geno and Tyler are not connecting on deep shots
As part of my response to the email that I received, I wrote the following:
I will also point out that Geno and Lockett connecting on even just ONE of their seven deep passes this season would skew the numbers in Tyler’s favor. Per PFF, Geno and Lockett are 0-for-7 on deep passes (20+ yards), 3-for-3 on medium passes (10-19 yards), and 14-for-16 on short passes (0-9 yards). Over the course of 4 games, that makes a BIG difference. Over the course of a season, it probably balances out (Geno and Tyler were 10-for-19 on deep passes last year; Tyler and RW3 were 20-for-39 in 2021).
Throwing that into a bulleted list so it’s easier to digest . . .
- Geno’s completion percentage on short throws to Tyler is 87.5% this season.
- On medium throws, Geno and Lockett are perfect - 100% !!
- Their connection on deep throws is 0%.
That, of course, begs the question of how Geno Smith is doing overall on his deep throws.
Here’s the answer:
- Last year, Geno connected on 32 of his 68 deep passes (47.1%)
- Through the first four games of the 2023 season, Geno has hit on 4 of 14 (28.6%).
As noted above, Geno is 0-for-7 when throwing deep passes to Lockett, which means he’s 4-for-7 (57.1%) on deep throws to everyone else.
I think it’s safe to say that neither Geno nor Tyler are as “bad” as their numbers make them look through the first four games.
Geno is unlikely to finish sub-30% on deep throws - even though he did in 2014 (12 of 45, 26.7%). More to the point though, Lockett ain’t gonna get shut out.
That said . . .
Lockett had 304 yards on deep passes last year; 740 in 2021; 196 in 2020; and 467 in 2019. Those yardage amounts represent 28.4%, 63%, 17.9%, and 37.2% of his total receiving yards those seasons.
Obviously, that’s quite a range - between 196 and 740 yards, and from 17.9% to 63% of Lockett’s season total, but the bottom line is that all of them are higher than the 0% that Tyler’s yardage on deep throws represents four games into the 2023 season.
Harsh? Yeah, a bit.
That doesn’t make it inaccurate though. (pun intended)
Lockett’s “pace” in past seasons
Admittedly, 4 games is a small sample (slightly less than 1/4th of the season), and projecting full season totals off of that small sample is a somewhat inefficient exercise.
It is, however, what we currently have to work with.
And, I suspect that it’s a little more efficient with Mr. Lockett than it might appear at first glance.
Let’s find out.
Note: I wrote those last two sentences without looking at the data first so let’s consider it my theory and see if it’s accurate.
Through the first four games (per PFF):
- 2019: 31 targets, 26 receptions (83.9%), 328 yards, 2 touchdowns
- 2020: 33 targets, 26 receptions (78.8%), 298 yards, 4 touchdowns
- 2021: 25 targets, 20 receptions (80%), 333 yards, 3 touchdowns
- 2022: 33 targets, 27 receptions (81.8%), 302 yards, 0 touchdowns
- 2023: 26 targets, 17 receptions (65.4%), 157 yards, 2 touchdowns
- Main Takeaway: Lockett’s catch rate and yards in 2023 are far below the numbers he posted to this point in previous seasons.
Percentage of season totals through first four games:
- 2019: Targets = 24.4% | Receptions = 27.4% | Yards = 26.1% | TDs = 22.2%
- 2020: Targets = 24.2% | Receptions = 25.5% | Yards = 27.2% | TDs = 40%
- 2021: Targets = 24.2% | Receptions = 27.4% | Yards = 28.3% | TDs = 37.5%
- 2022: Targets = 28.2% | Receptions = 30% | Yards = 28.2% | TDs = 0%
- 2023: Targets = TBD | Receptions = TBD | Yards = TBD | TDs = TBD
- Main Takeaway: Lockett’s percentages spiked last season, but are pretty consistent overall. (Secondary takeaway: calculating TD percentages in this context is sort of silly.)
Note: Despite the NFL implementing a 17-game schedule in 2021, Tyler Lockett has played in exactly 16 games in each of the seasons we’re looking at (and 8 of his first 9 seasons overall) which makes the numbers very easy to compare.
“Pace” after first four games vs. actual finish:
Because it affects the projections, I’ve divided this section based on how many games were available for Lockett to play in - either 16 (2019 and 2020) or 17 (2021-on).
- Targets: Pace = 124 | Actual = 127 | Difference = plus-3
- Receptions: Pace = 104 | Actual = 95 | Difference = minus-9
- Catch Rate: Pace = 83.9% | Actual = 74.8% | Difference = minus-9.1%
- Yards: Pace = 1,312 | Actual = 1,255 | Difference = minus-57
- Touchdowns: Pace = 8 | Actual = 9 | Difference = plus-1
- Main Takeaway: Lockett finished off the pace in both yards and receptions, despite a sligtht uptick in targets.
- Targets: Pace = 132 | Actual = 136 | Difference = plus-4
- Receptions: Pace = 104 | Actual = 102 | Difference = minus-2
- Catch Rate: Pace = 78.8% | Actual = 75% | Difference = minus-3.8%
- Yards: Pace = 1,192 | Actual = 1,097 | Difference = minus-95
- Touchdowns: Pace = 16 | Actual = 10 | Difference = minus-6
- Main Takeaway: Second verse, same as the first: uptick in targets, but finished off the pace in receptions and yards.
- Targets: Pace = 106 | Actual = 103 | Difference = minus-3
- Receptions: Pace = 85 | Actual = 73 | Difference = minus-12
- Catch Rate: Pace = 80% | Actual = 70.9% | Difference = minus-9.1%
- Yards: Pace = 1,415 | Actual = 1,175 | Difference = minus-240
- Touchdowns: Pace = 13 | Actual = 8 | Difference = minus-5
- Main Takeaway: Unlike 2019 and 2020, targets finished in minus territory which caused bigger drops in receptions and yards than in the two previous seasons.
- Targets: Pace = 140 | Actual = 117 | Difference = minus-23
- Receptions: Pace = 115 | Actual = 90 | Difference = minus-25
- Catch Rate: Pace = 81.8% | Actual = 76.9% | Difference = minus-4.9%
- Yards: Pace = 1,284 | Actual = 1,072 | Difference = minus-212
- Touchdowns: Pace = 0 | Actual = 9 | Difference = plus-9
- Main Takeaway: It feels “wrong” to be disappointed by stat line that reads 90-of-117 for 1,072 yards, but four games into the season, Lockett was on pace for 140 targets, 115 receptions, and almost 1,300 yards. WoW!
Note: As mentioned earlier, Tyler missed a game in both 2021 and 2022 which means finishing short of his pace would be expected . . . but that doesn’t necessarily mean it would be to the extent shown.
It’s worth noting that in each of the four previous seasons, Tyler Lockett’s receptions, catch rate, and yards finished below the pace he set through the first four games.
Will he break that trend in 2023?
Time will tell.
(My heart says, “Yes,” but my head and the numbers say, “No.”)
Pace PER GAME through Week 4 vs. Tyler’s final 12 games each season:
This is where Lockett playing the same number of games each of the last four seasons comes in handy . . .
- 2019: 7.75 vs. 8.00 | difference = plus-0.25 per game
- 2020: 8.25 vs. 8.58 | difference = plus-0.33
- 2021: 6.25 vs. 6.50 | difference = plus-0.25
- 2022: 8.25 vs. 7.00 | difference = minus-1.25
- 2023: 6.50 vs. TBD
- 2019: 6.50 vs. 5.75 | difference = minus-0.75 per game
- 2020: 6.50 vs. 6.33 | difference = minus-0.17
- 2021: 5.00 vs. 4.42 | difference = minus-0.58
- 2022: 6.75 vs. 5.25 | difference = minus-1.50
- 2023: 4.25 vs. TBD
- 2019: 82.00 vs. 77.25 | difference = minus-4.75
- 2020: 74.50 vs. 66.58 | difference = minus-7.92
- 2021: 83.25 vs. 70.17 | difference = minus-13.08
- 2022: 75.50 vs. 64.17 | difference = minus-11.33
- 2023: 39.25 vs. TBD
Note: That is a whole lot of minuses from Week 5 onward. Not all of them are large (0.17 receptions times 12 games = 2 receptions), but some of them are (a decrease of 13.08 yards per game is 157 yards over a span of 12 games - - and, yes, it’s also the number of yards that Tyler Lockett has through four games this year).
The final crunching of the numbers (for now)
Since the start of the 2021 season, Lockett has played in 36 regular season games.
In those games, looking only at the snaps that he played either “outside” or “in the slot”, Tyler has recorded 1,855 offensive snaps.
37.4% of them have been in the slot; the rest have been outside.
This is who Lockett IS in Seattle’s current offense.
Is it the right call?
Who’s to say?
Here’s what we can say though . . .
- Between the 2021 and 2022 seasons, Lockett was targeted 220 times across 32 games (6.88 targets per game).
- Lockett caught 163 of those passes (5.09 per game) for a catch rate of 74.1%.
- On those 163 receptions, Lockett amassed 2,247 yards (an average of 70.22 yards per game).
- Between those two seasons, Lockett recorded 0.53 touchdowns per game (17 total across 32 games).
Other than the touchdowns (0.50 vs. 0.53), Tyler is off the pace this year . . . at least compared to years past.
Especially the yards.
Lockett is seriously off the yards pace - - - 70.22 yards per game over the last two seasons vs. 39.25 per game this season.
That’s a lot.
Here’s where we separate the forest from the trees though . . .
- Averaging 70.22 yards per game for 17 games would give Lockett (or anyone else) almost 1,200 yards for the season - 1,193.74, to be exact.
- To extend his streak of 1,000-yard seasons, Lockett simply needs to finish above 999.
- 1,000 divided by 17 equals 58.83
Yes, Tyler Lockett is off the pace he needs for 1,000 yards.
But . . .
It’s only been four games, and the difference between what Lockett needs to average (58.83) and what he’s averaged thus far (39.25) is not nearly as large as it seems.
Seriously, Lockett’s sitting at 157 yards after four games when he should be sitting at 235.3, which is a difference of only 78.3 yards.
Doesn’t sound like much when you look at it like that, does it?
Yes, I’m ignoring the fact that 78.3 is almost exactly half of 157, but I’m trying to end this with an air of optimism . . .
In order to hit 1,000 yards by season’s end . . . assuming he plays all 17 games (which is obviously what all of us hope) . . . Lockett needs 843 receiving yards over the final 13 games.
That’s an average of 64.85 yards per game.
Based on the data we’ve looked at today, that’s certainly possible - - even if it’s 25.6 yards more per game than he’s been averaging so far this year.
Here’s the box score.
As fate would have it, the Seahawks face the their NFC West rivals in Week 7 again this year.
Maybe Lockett will repeat the performance.
Only this time at home . . . and in a winning effort for Seattle.
(And then we can start projecting how far OVER 1,000 yards he’s going to finish this year.)
As promised, here are Lockett’s game-by-game breakdowns for the first four games of each of the last five seasons:
- Game 1: 30 slot, 16 outside
- Game 2: 43 slot, 22 outside
- Game 3: 61 slot, 19 outside
- Game 4:40 slot, 19 outside
- Total first 4 games: 174 slot, 76 outside
- Average first 4 games: 69.6% slot
- Season average: 66.1% slot
- Game 1: 33 slot, 20 outside
- Game 2: 32 slot, 27 outside
- Game 3: 43 slot, 28 outside
- Game 4: 32 slot, 23 outside
- Total first 4 games: 140 slot, 98 outside
- Average first 4 games: 58.8% slot
- Season average: 56.9% slot
- Game 1: 14 slot, 32 outside
- Game 2: 15 slot, 35 outside
- Game 3: 13 slot, 36 outside
- Game 4: 13 slot, 35 outside
- Total first 4 games:55 slot, 138 outside
- Average first 4 games: 28.5% slot
- Season average: 37.2% slot
- Game 1: 19 slot, 25 outside
- Game 2: 19 slot, 26 outside
- Game 3: 25 slot, 32 outside
- Game 4:17 slot, 35 outside
- Total first 4 games:80 slot, 118 outside
- Average first 4 games: 40.4% slot
- Season average: 38.1% slot
- Game 1: 16 snaps in the slot, 28 outside
- Game 2: 19 slot, 42 outside
- Game 3: 24 slot, 37 outside
- Game 4: 12 slot, 26 outside
- Total first 4 games: 71 slot, 133 outside
- Average first 4 games: 34.8% slot
- Season average: TBD
Last but not least, here’s a Fun Fact that I opted not to include in the main article (since the focus was on Tyler Lockett) . . .
Fun Fact: Geno’s 47.1% completion rate on deep throws last year was better than Russell Wilson’s completion rate on deep balls in 8 of Wilson’s 10 seasons in Seattle - - - Russbot hit on 50% in 2016 and 2018, but finished lower than Geno’s 47.1% every other season.
Epilogue: In his first season in Denver, RW3 connected on 39.7% of his deep passes; this year, Wilson is a couple points higher (41.7%).