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Originally published January 7, 2015 at 7:54 PM | Page modified January 8, 2015 at 6:51 PM

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Seahawks’ ‘pedestrian’ receivers make big plays, blocks

The trading of stats for blocks isn’t always the easiest sell, and it can take time for receivers to hop aboard. But it’s also hard to argue with the ultimate success of the Seahawks, who have won 36 of their last 45 games.


Seattle Times columnist

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Richard Sherman started listing the characteristics of Seattle’s wide receivers earlier this week, gaining momentum as he went.

“They’re feisty, they’re underrated, they’re dynamic, they’re clutch, they’re veterans ... and they’re champions.’’

That last statement is the ultimate trump card for those who still cite Seattle’s receiving corps as its weak link — and rest assured, the Seahawks’ pass-catchers know who you are.

“We still have some idiots out there who think we’re pedestrian,’’ smirked Jermaine Kearse. “But to each his own.”

The word “pedestrian” was not an accidental choice by Kearse. That was one of the pointed words used last year by ESPN analyst (and Hall of Fame wide receiver) Cris Carter to describe Seattle’s receiving corps in the lead-up to the Super Bowl.

The other one that particularly rankled Doug Baldwin was the description of Seattle’s receivers as “appetizers” to the main course. After the Seahawks had won the Super Bowl in a rout, 43-8, with Baldwin and Kearse each catching touchdown passes, Baldwin gleefully fired back at Carter, pointing out the absence of a Super Bowl title on his résumé.

“I have a Super Bowl ring, and I would gladly show it to him,’’ Baldwin said after the game. “And if he doesn’t have time to come see it, tell him he can Google it.”

Flash forward a year, and it’s safe to say that Seattle’s receiving corps is still fighting for respect. Based purely on statistics, they look like a weak link. The Seahawks threw fewer passes than any team in the league in the regular season, and ranked 27th out of 32 in passing yardage with 3,250 yards — a mere 14 more than last year.

But one thing we should know by now is that yardage statistics don’t tell the full story. The Seahawks were tied for sixth with Indianapolis in yards per passing attempt (7.7), and led the league in explosive plays (defined as runs of 12-plus yards and completions of 16-plus yards).

They had 135 of those, one more than the Colts and Eagles. That breaks down to 74 such plays passing, and a league-leading 61 rushing. The latter total is a testament to Marshawn Lynch, of course, but also to the downfield blocking ability of Seattle’s receivers.

To be a Seahawks receiver is to recognize that passes will be at a minimum, compared to other freewheeling offenses around the league. It’s no secret that Pete Carroll favors a run-first philosophy, and the buy-in to that reality is what Seahawks receivers embrace. And what makes the offense work.

“When you have probably the best running back in the NFL, Marshawn, you pride yourselves in getting him those open runs,’’ Kearse said. “When he gets to the secondary, it comes down to us making and executing those blocks for those long runs. I feel we just take pride in it.”

The trading of stats for blocks isn’t always the easiest sell, and it can take time for receivers to hop aboard. But it’s also hard to argue with the ultimate success of the Seahawks, who have won 36 of their last 45 games.

“Naturally, you want to throw the ball. Everybody was the guy at their college,’’ Kearse said. “Then you come into an offense that runs the ball a lot. You have to change your focus and learn to take pride in it.”

This was the year, don’t forget, in which one of the preseason story lines was how the Seahawks were going to open up their passing attack. They presumably had a healthy Percy Harvin for the full season, plus the addition of draftees Paul Richardson and Kevin Norwood.

Never mind that last year’s leading receiver, Golden Tate, had left for Detroit (where he upped his receptions from 64 to 99 and his yardage from 898 to 1,331, which Baldwin and others can point to as validation of their potential, if unleashed).

Harvin is long gone, of course, and Seattle’s emphasis on passing is pretty much identical to last year. Baldwin essentially took over Tate’s lead-option role with 66 catches for 825 yards. Kearse added 537 yards, and Richardson has become an increasing part of the offense, catching 29 passes for 271 yards.

“I believe in these guys so much,’’ Russell Wilson said of his receiving corps. “They may not have the same numbers as everybody else, but I know our style of game is a style that wins a lot of football games.”

And that’s the ultimate trump card when it comes to defending Seattle’s receivers: The Seahawks win with them.

“You’d be hard-pressed to find a receiving corps with more Super Bowl touchdowns and Super Bowl receiving yards,’’ Sherman said. “There are a lot of people who play big time in the regular season, but what did that do for you in the playoffs?”

The playoffs start for Seattle on Saturday, and Wilson, for one, believes his receivers will be far from pedestrian.

“We’re going to have to make big-time plays, obviously,’’ he said. “I trust those guys more than anybody else, and I know they’re going to make the plays for me.”

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or lstone@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @StoneLarry



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About Larry Stone

Larry Stone gives his take on the local and national sports scene.
lstone@seattletimes.com

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