Super Bowl Media Day has come to an end, and one thing is clear: The Seattle Seahawks have a chip on their shoulder.
On a day that’s more about photo ops than insightful interviews, the Seahawks' top players all seemed determined to silence those who disparage their wide receivers. On a team known for its stifling defense and beastly running game, the Seattle receiving corps tends to be pushed to the back of the conversation. Today they repeatedly pointed to their being characterized as “pedestrian,” which has become a rallying cry in recent weeks.
“I think we are probably one of the most underrated receiving corps in the NFL,” wide receiver Doug Baldwin said, echoing sentiments uttered moments before by quarterback Russell Wilson. Baldwin urged critics to take a deeper look at the numbers, emphasizing that you can’t judge a team on statistics without context.
Indeed, a glance at the stats would lead one to conclude the Seahawks are mediocre in catching the ball. The team’s 3,508 receiving yards ranks 26th in the league, as does its 219.3 receiving yards per game. But like Baldwin said, these numbers don’t tell the full story. The team doesn’t need to rely on its receivers heavily because it has so many tools in its arsenal. In addition to Marshawn Lynch’s legs, Wilson’s give him the option of choosing the ground over the air in a way most NFL quarterbacks can't. As such, the team ranks 31st in pass attempts. (The only team that threw the ball fewer times than the Seahawks was the San Francisco 49ers, led by a similarly mobile quarterback in Colin Kaepernick.) What people are characterizing as “pedestrian” is actually one of the most efficient receiver corps in football. The Seahawks rank third with an average of 13.1 yards per reception and, despite not throwing the ball very often, were still in the top 10 in receiving touchdowns.
Come Sunday, Baldwin, Golden Tate and the other Seahawks receivers will have ample opportunity to prove their doubters wrong, and are using all the negativity as further motivation. As Wilson said today, “I’d rather be called an underdog than top dog.”
(Kavitha A. Davidson is a Bloomberg View columnist who writes about sports. Follow her on Twitter at @kavithadavidson.)
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