BY Art Thiel 06:30AM 08/14/2015

Thiel: Seahawks can start NBA front line at goal

With 6-7 Jimmy Graham in with fellow TE Luke Willson at 6-5, the Seahawks can potentially deploy them with 6-5 WR Chris Matthews and take every rebound north of the Portland Trail Blazers.

At 6-7, Jimmy Graham can play center, and 6-5 Luke Willson and 6-5 Chris Matthews can play wings. / Drew McKenzie, Sportspress Northwest

RENTON — When WR Percy Harvin was still a dream instead of a headache, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll fancifully compared his top four receivers to an Olympic 400-meter relay team. As Seahawks fans know, the baton was dropped.

Now the new explosive guy is 6-7, 260-pound TE Jimmy Graham. So when he combines with fellow TE Luke Willson at 6-5 and, say, 6-5 WR Chris Matthews, it is . . . an NBA front line?

Carroll didn’t say that, but I’m comfortable imagining in the fake-season opener against the Denver Broncos Friday night at the Clink a lineup that includes all three Blake Griffin-wannabes going up for a Russell Wilson pass at the goal line.

I’m also comfortable imagining in the Super Bowl any of them going for a pass at second-and-goal at the 1-yard line.

I know Twelves are saying it’s too soon to think back to the horror, but let’s be honest: Wasn’t there about a half-dozen Seahawks names you would have put ahead of WR Ricardo Lockette to catch a slant pass in traffic?

It was not coincidence that the Seahawks’ biggest move of the offseason was the first move, to fix the goal-line catch problem by trading for Graham.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said, Willson, understating by about a half-mile the excitement the offense has about increased production. “Not sure when it’s going to open up, but I’m really excited for week 1. We have some cool personnel groups and some match-ups that we’ll try to expose defenses with.”

The discerning Seahawks fan will recognize that similar giggling attended the preseason hopes a year ago regarding the options for a healthy Harvin. But the coaches finally are getting around to admitting that trying to get Harvin in the open field, by pass or run, to exploit his speed, was too clumsy for the playbook.

Even though Harvin’s firing was driven largely by his dysfunctional personality, the Seahawks needed to drop the fly sweeps and other exotica — Harvin had a 6.0 yards per catch average (133 yards on 22 receptions) — and return to smashing mouths with Marshawn Lynch and crushing souls with the elusive Wilson.

The addition of Graham requires no additional turbochargers, spoilers or mud flaps.

“The cool part about Jimmy is we can plug him in,” said offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. “We don’t have to do anything special. He’s special as a player, just by being able to fit in. We don’t have to target him.

“We can run the same routes we’ve been running. The QB knows where he is at all times, so the ball probably will be going more in that direction. We’re not straying very far at all (from the standard play calling).”

The Seahawks likely will unveil nothing much Friday, certainly not alley-oops to Graham, Willson or Matthews (watch for them in Week 2 at Green Bay). In fact, Matthews, a practice squad refugee, is not a guarantee to make the team, although his four catches led all Seattle receivers in the Super Bowl — to the surprise of nearly every mammal on the planet.

Astonishing as that was, those were his only four catches of the season — and represented a third of Seattle’s 12 completions, none of which went to tight ends. For the 2014 regular season, four Seahawks tight ends –Willson, Cooper Helfet, Tony Moeaki and Zach Miller — combined for 48 catches in 84 targets, so it’s not as if their pass-catching was an afterthought.

Bevell offered no real insight into how such oddness piled up.

“As the tight ends know, it just depends sometimes on how the games are going,” he said. “Sometimes I think Zach ends up having six catches in a game, then the next game he ends up with zero. It could be match-ups, could be game plan, could be coverage, those different elements that come into effect.”

That was then. For 2015 now at tight end, Moeaki and Miller are gone, Graham and Willson are 1-2, and Helfet and injury holdover Anthony McCoy seek the third spot.

Matthews represents the prototypical tall, long receiver that Carroll has always favored but hasn’t really had with the Seahawks. Judging by the remarks of Bevell, there is no assurance Matthews, a year ago a rookie find from the Canadian Football League out of Los Angeles, is the answer.

“He has ability—there’s no question,” he said. ” He’s got size, he’s got great catch radius, all that. But we want to make sure he’s showing up each and every day. That’s what I’ve talked to him about every day.

“We don’t want to have a situation where we come out here and he has one good day and then he disappears for two or three. Then, ‘Oh, there he is again, he’s out here.’ We want to make him make himself be known . . . if for some reason he wasn’t here, everyone would know that he’s missing. That’s what we’re trying to get with him.”

If he develops into a consistent threat, a two-tight end formation that also includes Matthews at wideout would make it hard for average NFL cornerbacks to see light, much less ball.

“You’d think down in the red zone would be a place where something like that shows up,” Bevell said, “where space is more critical and you’re kind of throwing to spots. So have opportunities if you need to throw to back pylons, front pylons, back five (yards in the end zone) kind of throws.

“You can throw them high and they can create space for themselves. We want to make that show up.”

Between the 20s, Willson figures the offensive choices are equally disruptive.

“The unique thing for us is when we have two tight ends in, we still have our whole offense in because our tight ends can run,” he said. “Some teams have tight ends who are strictly blockers. We have guys who can do it all — one play a guy stretches a seam, the next play it’s outside zone.

“That’s tough part for defenses — when we have tight ends with speed, a defense might want to drop in a nickel back. But doing that really opens up our run game for Marshawn.”

Should the Seahawks also find need for a putback score off the glass, they have the front line for the job.

Seahawks plan to salute 40 NFL years

The Seahawks are celebrating 40 seasons in the NFL by having fans vote for their favorite  players throughout the season.

Voting began Wednesday on and continues through Tuesday.  The 40 players with the most votes will be revealed and recognized in a halftime ceremony at the regular-season home opener Sept. 27 vs. Chicago.

The Seahawks also launched  a new website dedicated to the history and traditions of the team including archived videos, images, schedules, rosters, game notes and other chronological articles.

Prior to each home game, the team will publish four years of team history beginning with 1976.  The living museum provides a narrative and evolution of the franchise.  New features and content will be added to the site regularly.

Visit to view the site and records from 1976-1979.


  • jafabian

    I’m not sure Bevell’s offense will use Graham as well as he says it will. Zach Miller was a Pro Bowl TE in Oakland before becoming a Seahawk. His lowest production for receiving was his rookie year when he caught for 444 yards and and 3 TD’s. He never matched that as a Seahawk. Reportedly it was because he was such a good blocker for Marshawn they used him more as a blocker than a receiver but I question if Bevell’s offense is geared for the TE. Miller could occasionally break out as he did against the Falcons in the 2011 playoffs (142 yards, 1 TD) but I don’t believe the Darrell Bevell offense uses the TE much. We’ll see.

    • art thiel

      Using two TEs doesn’t always mean receptions. Lots of deception involved, and also lots or work blocking second-level for Lynch.

  • Jamo57

    Good piece, Art, though a front line of 6’5″ to 6’7″ sounds more like the Husky hoop team than an NBA squad. LOL

    And I guess I will forever be “glass half full” guy in regards to Harvin. Call me contrarian, but his fly sweeps were pretty effective in the Super Bowl and had to be a shock to Denver putting them back on their heels. And the return to open the second half sealed the deal. The first championship in Seattle in 35 years? He was worth it.

    Besides, it was Paul Allen’s money, not mine. And the lost draft picks don’t seem to have hurt the depth too much (ok maybe DB and OL, but I like that trophy).

    I guess I would tell an NFL team, the best way to utilized Harvin is keep him off the field for a season and then spring him in the championship game. Ha!

    • art thiel

      The problem with Harvin is defenses can game-plan for him. Seahawks forced the ball to him in ways that tipped th D’s.

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        When Chicago drafted Devin Hester it was a real take the league by storm move.His rookie year had flashes of excellence such as that monday night game against AZ in which Hesters fielding produced multiple TDs and a Bears win. He was the product of the famous Denny Green Rant.
        Great theater and tough to game plan for unlike your aforementioned Harvin Dilemma.
        We could very well have a new Hester on our hands.We had the best bargain in the NFL in 3rd round draft pick Russell Wilson til a few weeks ago. Way to early to annoint this as a sure bet for a future coaches rant but i will dare to push that envelope anyway……
        Welcome NFL to new best 3rd round bargain in the NFL :Tyler Lockett.
        Good luck game planning for his speed and ability to get open with Graham Baldwin and Kearse annoying the defenses too in 3 receiver sets (with a forth receiver disguised as a tight end).
        Carroll will be forced to use Locketts talent this year.Count on it.

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        “They are what we thought they were, and we let them off the hook!”

        That rookie Lockett is no Percy Harvin yet we let them use him that way and he Beat us!

        “They are what we thought they were, and we let them off the hook!”

        Steelers head coach after a loss to Seattle in 2015.

        I still dislike Pitt for their fleecing of Seattle for the 2005 SB debacle~we can only hope the above rings true when we play those @#$%^& fellows later this year.

  • poulsbogary

    Could be superman, hulk, and hercules manning the trenches. dont’ care, just give the !$%&*! ball to lynch.

    • art thiel

      Seahawks coaches are somewhat aware of this.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    Pete would like to have “Zulu” height across the board for both his pass catchers and defensive backs too. I second that emotion.A tall order worth endorsing.
    Coach has molded an exciting blueprint into an extraordinary team and it will continue for years to come. I would love to see Pete and John work their team building prowess deep into the next decade and if that happens we will have 10 years of excellence to enjoy. This is going to be an exciting 2015 squad to watch. Can’t wait. Go Hawks!

    • art thiel

      10 years?! Slow your roll, David.

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        Russell Wilson has rubbed off on me and I’m no longer afraid to dream big with this team. Hey Billy B. has done that for New England why not out here? I can see Pete coaching for at least the next 6~7 years and perhaps we squeeze ten out of him.
        Back when Kenny Easley was a employee of this franchise I said if SEA had 10 or 15 Kenny clones they could/ would rip off a long long winning streak and win multiple super bowls.Today we do have a number of elite athletes at the critical positions. Yes,its far more complicated to pull off success with today’s salary cap and it wont be easy but in 10 years Wilson will be 36. How old is Tom Brady today?Its possible yes.
        Russ sure dreams of his being the captain of this ship for ten years.
        Dynasties are unlikely in todays NFL environment but with a shrewd 10 year plan I don’t see the Hawks as Cleveland Brown awful in the 10 year crystal ball. Sherman ~Thomas ~Chancellor ~Wagner (et al )will have to be led off the field and handed a cane before they ever believe they don’t have what it takes TO sustain excellence for the next 6~7 years or even ten.
        Your advice is sound ,Art. But I always like RWs take on it.
        Insist on dreaming big.B~E~L~I~E~V~E. The Hawks would have never even made it to consecutive Super Bowls for the 1st time in franchise history without believing that lofty goal could be reached in the first place. Excellence for ten years impossible?Do not tell these current menaces of the NFC that.
        Go Hawks!

      • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

        I’m encouraging Jamie Moyer to write “How to be productive when you are as old as dirt” so Russell Wilson can read it. He is hands down the best fit for this Hawks franchise and a chief way to keep going to the play offs in the distant future.

  • John M

    Liked the article, Art, and you mentioned the thing with Matthews I think will be his make or break – focus and intensity. It takes a lot of both to survive in the NFL. tonight I expect the offense to be a bit ragged, but the D should be interesting with the new faces . . .