I’m not a big Jimmy Graham fan. He drops too many passes, and I didn’t think he was a difference maker with the Seahawks. But they’re going to have to play a lot differently around the end zone now that he’s not around.
Graham (who signed with the Packers) was the clear focal point of Seattle’s passing game around the end zone last year. When they got near the goal line, they consistently went to him.
When the Seahawks were inside the 5, they threw 16 passes to Graham, resulting in 7 touchdowns and a 2-point conversion. (A 2-point conversion isn’t actually considered an official play, but I am including them here).
The 16 pass attempts is the most by any player in this century. Maybe ever (I don’t have these numbers compiled for the ‘80s and ‘90s). In the last 10 years, only 60 other players have been targeted at least 8 times in that part of the field.
|RECEIVING INSIDE 5 (last 10 years)|
|2017||Jimmy Graham, Sea.||16||8||50.0%||7+1|
|2014||Demaryius Thomas, Den.||14||4||28.6%||3+1|
|2013||Dez Bryant, Dall.||13||9||69.2%||9|
|2008||Larry Fitzgerald, Ariz.||13||7||53.8%||7|
|2008||Tony Gonzalez, K.C.||12||5||41.7%||5|
|2011||Aaron Hernandez, N.E.||12||5||41.7%||4|
|2015||Jarvis Landry, Mia.||12||4||33.3%||2+1|
|2008||Anquan Boldin, Ariz.||11||8||72.7%||6|
|2013||Brandon Marshall, Chi.||11||7||63.6%||5+2|
|2010||Larry Fitzgerald, Ariz.||11||6||54.5%||3+1|
|2015||Antonio Brown, Pitt.||10||7||70.0%||3+2|
|2014||Roddy White, Atl.||10||7||70.0%||6|
|2013||Wes Welker, Den.||10||7||70.0%||6|
|2012||Heath Miller, Pitt.||10||6||60.0%||4+1|
|2011||Jimmy Graham, N.O.||10||6||60.0%||6|
|2014||Antonio Brown, Pitt.||10||5||50.0%||3+1|
|2009||Reggie Wayne, Ind.||10||5||50.0%||4|
|2009||Greg Olsen, Chi.||10||4||40.0%||4|
|2008||Dwayne Bowe, K.C.||10||3||30.0%||3|
|2014||Randall Cobb, G.B.||9||7||77.8%||6+1|
|2017||Michael Crabtree, Oak.||9||7||77.8%||5+2|
|2016||Jordy Nelson, G.B.||9||6||66.7%||6|
|2016||Anquan Boldin, Det.||9||6||66.7%||4|
|2014||Dez Bryant, Dall.||9||5||55.6%||5|
|2012||Rob Gronkowski, N.E.||9||5||55.6%||5|
|2017||Rob Gronkowski, N.E.||9||4||44.4%||3+1|
|2016||Demaryius Thomas, Den.||9||4||44.4%||3+1|
|2016||Larry Fitzgerald, Ariz.||9||4||44.4%||4|
|2015||Pierre Garcon, Wash.||9||4||44.4%||4|
|2013||Eric Decker, Den.||9||4||44.4%||4|
|2013||Calvin Johnson, Det.||9||4||44.4%||4|
|2012||Mike Williams, T.B.||9||4||44.4%||4|
|2016||Kyle Rudolph, Minn.||9||4||44.4%||2|
|2008||Braylon Edwards, Clev.||9||3||33.3%||1+2|
|2016||Antonio Brown, Pitt.||9||3||33.3%||3|
|2016||Amari Cooper, Oak.||9||2||22.2%||0+2|
|2012||Brandon Marshall, Chi.||9||2||22.2%||2|
|2014||Charles Clay, Mia.||9||2||22.2%||0|
|2015||Golden Tate, Det.||8||7||87.5%||5|
|2015||Richard Rodgers, G.B.||8||6||75.0%||5+1|
|2016||Mike Evans, T.B.||8||6||75.0%||4+2|
|2016||Davante Adams, G.B.||8||5||62.5%||4+1|
|2016||Michael Crabtree, Oak.||8||5||62.5%||4+1|
|2012||Anthony Fasano, Mia.||8||5||62.5%||4+1|
|2015||Allen Robinson, Jac.||8||5||62.5%||5|
|2011||Calvin Johnson, Det.||8||5||62.5%||5|
|2015||Rob Gronkowski, N.E.||8||5||62.5%||4|
|2013||Joseph Fauria, Det.||8||4||50.0%||3+1|
|2009||Randy Moss, N.E.||8||4||50.0%||3+1|
|2014||Antonio Gates, S.D.||8||4||50.0%||4|
|2010||Miles Austin, Dall.||8||4||50.0%||4|
|2014||Larry Donnell, NYG||8||4||50.0%||3|
|2015||Gary Barnidge, Clev.||8||3||37.5%||3|
|2012||Roddy White, Atl.||8||3||37.5%||3|
|2008||Bryant Johnson, S.F.||8||3||37.5%||3|
|2014||Jordy Nelson, G.B.||8||2||25.0%||2|
|2010||Chad Ochocinco, Cin.||8||2||25.0%||2|
|2013||Josh Gordon, Clev.||8||1||12.5%||1|
|2012||Julio Jones, Atl.||8||1||12.5%||1|
|2011||Brandon Marshall, Mia.||8||0||0.0%||0|
|2011||Marcedes Lewis, Jac.||8||0||0.0%||0|
Note: On touchdown column, I'm blending touchdowns and 2-point conversions. Graham caught 7 TDs and a 2-point converison, so I've listed him as "7+1".
For the Seahawks, they’re going back to square one with their offense around the goal-line. Should be completely different, with different players trying to do different things. They dumped a lot of their assistant coaches, including their offensive coordinator.
Seattle’s running game was garbage last year, and that’s been a focus. I imagine they’ll run it a lot more (and more effectively) in that part of field.
Seattle doesn’t have a tight end who’s anything like Graham, so I don’t imagine that position will be a big factor. Right now, it looks like they’ll be using Ed Dickson and Nick Vannett, but those guys are pretty ordinary.
Doug Baldwin should get a few more looks, and he’s a skilled route runner. Over the last three years, they’ve gone 5 of 9 when passing to Baldwin inside the 5, with 4 TDs and a 2-point conversion. He’s fine, but he’s not a Graham-type weapon that they’ll be pumping balls to week after week.
I believe we’ll see Russell Wilson passing less often in this part of the field – and also less effectively. He was very good around the goal line last year, but earlier in his career he tended to struggle. Inside the 10 (not the 5, but the 10) last year, Wilson completed 24 of 46 passes, with a league-high 17 TDs plus a pair of 2-point conversions. Those are some of the better goal-line passing numbers in the league. He threw 34 touchdown passes, and half of them came inside the 10.
In the two previous years, Wilson completed only 22 of 58 passes inside the 10, with 18 TDs, a 2-point conversion and 3 sacks – 38 percent completions. During those two seasons, 25 other quarterbacks had at least 40 plays in that part of the field, and they all completed at least 46 percent.
Look for a decline from Wilson, I’m pretty sure.
As for Graham, I imagine Aaron Rodgers were get him some balls around the goal line, but I don’t think he’ll necessarily be their featured guy. Davante Adams and Randall Cobb both look just as likely to score touchdowns in that part of the field. And they could add another quality wide receiver. Dez Bryant is still out there (and note on the chart that he’s the only player in the last 10 years who’s caught 9 passes inside the 5-yard line – back in 2013).