The Jimmy Graham Solution

There is a reason the Seattle Seahawks have the best roster in the National Football League: over the last few seasons the Seahawks have continued to look for ways to improve a roster where a large portion of the players had already won a Super Bowl together. When John Schneider and Pete Carroll looked over the roster after the Super Bowl in February – or perhaps, before the game – they saw one glaring weakness. There was no difference maker at receiver or tight end. Instead of waiting until the draft to attempt to get that type of player, they did what no one expected. They traded Max Unger and a first-round pick to the New Orleans Saints for All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham and a fourth-round pick. The 6’7” and now-270-pound Graham will change the way NFL defenses play against the Seahawks. The questions are whether Graham will take on the responsibility of blocking in a still run-first offensive system, and if he will stay happy when his receiving numbers inevitably suffer because of fewer chances to catch passes.

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Graham recently appeared on the Brock and Salk show on 710 ESPN Seattle and was asked if he accepted the fact that he would be asked to block much more with Seattle than he was with the Saints. Graham answered that not only was he more than willing to block as necessary, but was playing at a heavier weight for that reason. Through the last few seasons, Graham’s playing weight was around 255. Graham added 15 pounds of muscle, but judging by this year’s training camp he has not lost any speed. In fact, when asked whether if he had been on the team in last year’s Super Bowl the Seahawks final play might have turned out differently, Graham suggested running back Marshawn Lynch should have gotten the ball either way. That Graham understands Lynch is the key part of Seattle’s offense even with his presence speaks volumes about a player some fans and players doubted would ever buy into the Seahawks system.

Graham, though, gets paid to catch passes, especially passes that result in touchdowns. Over the past four seasons Graham has caught 46 touchdowns, including 16 in 2013. He has also averaged 88 receptions per season. Graham most likely will not come near catching 88 passes this year. The Seahawks simply do not throw it enough for any one player to accumulate that many. But because he is such a red zone threat, and teams will still have to think about stopping Lynch first, it is not a stretch to assume Graham will score 10 or more touchdowns this season. Also, offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell can be very creative with Graham. Keeping Graham on the line with Lynch in the backfield means teams will need to keep defenders up which frees  up Seattle’s receivers and possibly the other tight end, most likely Luke Willson. If Graham plays out wide as a receiver, teams will need to have fewer players in the box. Those are simple suggestions, and it will be up to Bevell to create unique wrinkles. For the first time, though, Bevell will have the opportunity to have flexibility with dominant players inside and out leading to a much more dynamic Seahawks offense.

With the Seahawks great defense, the offense does not have to score 30 points a game. With an offense that could consistently score that much with the addition of Jimmy Graham along with superstar Marshawn Lynch and quarterback Russell Wilson, the Seahawks 2015 version might rival the 2013 one. That has to be a scary thought for the rest of the NFL.