The biggest difference between Seattle’s offense last year and this year is the loss of Doug Baldwin. He had been Russell Wilson’s top receiver since Wilson was a rookie and had blossomed into one of the NFL’s premier wide receivers. Seattle used three picks in the 2019 NFL Draft on the wide receiver position, so it looks like the are taking finding a replacement for Baldwin seriously. The offense is more than just one wide receiver though, and the offensive line, running backs, tight ends and quarterbacks are just as responsible for the success of the offense. Going into the 2019 training camps I have three bold predictions for the Seahawks’ offense this year.
Seahawks rush for more yards than 2018
In 2018 Seattle rushed for 2,560 yards as a team. I think they will get that many from Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and Russell Wilson. Carson looks like he is ready for another big year and his blend of elusiveness and power could lead to a 1,200-yard season for Seattle. Seahawk fans saw flashes of his talent in 2017 before he got injured and missed most of the season. Than in 2018 he showed the rest of the NFL how good he was with over 1,150 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.
Penny chipped in with almost 500 yards and two touchdowns on less than 200 touches in his debut season. I expect him to get the ball more, especially since Mike Davis has gone to Chicago. Penny should rush for around 900 yards in 2019 with his increased usage. He has more speed and a little more shiftiness than Carson does, so he might pick up more slack in the passing game and on third downs.
This leaves around 400 yards for Wilson to pick up on scrambles and designed runs. This might sound like a lot, but Wilson has rushed for at least 400 yards in five of his seven pro seasons. So, if Penny and Carson can keep up their side of the bargain I could see this offense beating last years’ total. And this is without any other players getting any carries in the run game.
Tyler Lockett scores 15 touchdowns
With Baldwin gone, Lockett is the top playmaker for Seattle’s passing game. Wilson and he have a great chemistry on deep balls and double moves which they used to great effect last year. When Wilson targeted Lockett in 2018 they had a perfect passer rating. Which essentially means good things happen when Wilson looks Lockett’s way. Lockett is going to attract more attention and possibly double teams from opposing teams now that Baldwin is not taking up their attention.
I think Lockett will get more than 1,000 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns through the air. This means he is going to need to score some touchdowns in other ways to reach my goal. I think Seattle will use him more in the running game with reverses and jet sweeps. And he is so good with the ball in his hands I think he can score a few touchdowns this way. He is also a very dangerous return man who has shown he can score on both punt and kick returns. His speed and elusiveness make him a threat in the open field and he has shown improved hands throughout his entire career.
Rookie wide receivers combine for 100 catches
Seattle grabbed several rookie wide receivers in the 2019 NFL Draft to help with Baldwin’s departure and to create competition with the veterans. The biggest names are D.K. Metcalf, Gary Jennings and John Ursua. Metcalf brings speed, power and physical attributes to the squad. He looks like the consensus pick for top rookie wide receiver for Seattle. He will probably be used as a jump ball and physical receiver, and they will wait until the defensive backs start to creep up and then they send Metcalf deep and he uses his great size and speed to win the ball downfield. I think he ends up with 50 catches this year.
Gary Jennings is also a guy known for his size and speed. He is a little smaller than Metcalf, but he is just as fast, according to their 40-yard dash times. His route running, and positioning helped him have a great year for West Virginia in 2018 and Seattle hopes to use him in the slot and create mismatches there. If used correctly, I think Jennings ends up with 20 catches.
Ursua is a wild card. He had good numbers and caught a lot of balls in his career at Hawai’i, but they were an air raid offense and they played lower competition than bigger schools. He doesn’t have great straight-line speed, but he is quicker than he is fast and has a knack for getting open. He has the most suspect hands of the bunch, but Seattle really liked him, so look for them to get him into the lineup early and often. I think he can end the year with 30 catches for Seattle.