“Jimmy’s one of my best friends in the world. He’s like a unicorn. There’s only so many of those guys you can find, that can do what he can do,” Russell Wilson told the News Tribune’s Gregg Bell in early January.
“He’s pretty special, catching the football, making plays. … Hopefully he can continue to be a Seahawk. I would love to continue his career here with him.”
Graham’s been making plays nearly his entire time in Seattle but not with the consistency they’d hoped. Surprisingly his play turned up a notch after a gruesome patellar tendon tear ended his 2015 season. In 2016, he was a comeback player of the year candidate. With 923 receiving yards and six touchdowns, he was a machine on the deep ball but was among the least used Seahawks in the redzone. In 2017, the situation flipped. Gone were the days of deep throws to their playmaker while Graham as an unstoppable redzone force was now in vogue and the numbers reflected the switch. His receiving yards dipped to 520 but he caught 10 touchdowns to soothe the decline — all in the redzone.
There’s chatter that Graham didn’t try as hard between the 20’s as he did in the redzone and his catch rate did take a dip. Despite nearly identical target numbers the last two seasons, he caught eight fewer balls and struggled with a drop problem throughout the year. None of that completely accounts for the significant drop in receiving yards but whether it’s on Graham or the Seahawks; he simply doesn’t fit within their framework all of the time.
But when he does fit, it’s spectacular and head coach Pete Carroll knows it. He also knows when he doesn’t fit; the offense struggles. So what would removing him entirely bring?
“He had a big factor in the season in the fact that he did score and there was that stretch in there where he didn’t have a catch in games and you all thought that he was going to retire or something like that,” Carroll said during his final press conference. “He did have a stretch there and his stretch and Russell [Wilson’s] stretch was kind of the same.
“… I thought that the chemistry was as visible as you can make it; we were forcing teams to have to double him [in the redzone] and if they don’t double him, we’re going to be able to get it to him. That’s what we had pictured it to be. It just took a while and both of those guys hooked up and it was really the coming-together conceptually and through the hard work that really paid off eventually. He was just as forcible as anyone in the NFL down there.” 247sports
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