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Friday, May 7, 2021

PSA: stop wasting Graham

Former Western Front sports editor shares his opinion of the Seahawks.

I remember the conversations. The excitement. The unbridled joy.

“Wow, the Seahawks traded for Jimmy Graham,” I exclaimed in the middle of my political science class.

Yes, the Seahawks pulled off an offseason deal nobody saw coming, trading Max Unger for Jimmy Graham.

“Who can stop our offense now? If you stack the box against Marshawn Lynch, Graham will destroy defenses up the seam. If you start doubling Jimmy, Lynch will run over depleted defensive fronts. And what about Wilson scrambling around? How can you defend this?”

Then I stopped. This all sounded oddly familiar.

These were the exact same things I said about Percy Harvin about two years earlier. The Hawks made a splash then too, trading similar assets for a weapon that should have turned the offense into a maelstrom of efficiency.

History shows otherwise. Harvin was rarely healthy. When he was, he was ineffective on the field.

But hidden in that is how badly misused he was in the Seahawks offense. Harvin was a dynamic threat, lining up in the backfield taking handoffs and running reverses that kept defenses gasping for air. He was also very effective as a slot receiver running routes down field.

In Seattle, he was relegated to simply being a diversion. He was never allowed to use his abilities.

Sounding familiar yet?

Yes, through the first five games of the 2015 NFL season, Graham was supposed to revolutionize the Hawks offense. Instead, it has been stuck in the mud and Graham has been criminally underused.

Against the Bengals in a gut-wrenching overtime loss, Graham had three catches for 30 yards. He was only targeted five times, none of which were in the red zone or on third down to my recollection.

That’s a problem. Seattle traded a lot to him in, but they continue to call the offense like there is a borderline-practice squad guy there. They keep Graham in to block, something he isn’t very good at.

The guy clocks in at 6-foot-7 and 270 pounds. Linebackers aren’t fast enough to cover him and cornerbacks aren’t big enough. Why do the Seahawks underutilize him?

I don’t expect him to put up the numbers he did in New Orleans, but I do expect the Hawks to tailor the offense to his strengths. They haven’t done that yet, and the offense will continue to be stagnant until they do.

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