People like to talk about things that are “underrated,” and I often wonder how they arrived at that conclusion.
There’s no real measure for it.
It’s usually just a gut feeling.
But my gut is telling me this: One of the most underrated statistics in the NFL last year was Russell Wilson’s perfect passer rating when throwing to Tyler Lockett.
It’s incredible, really.
Wilson completed 57 of the 70 passes hurled Lockett’s way while compiling 965 yards and 10 touchdowns — good for that maximum rating of 158.3.
Since 2002, no other quarterback had targeted a receiver more than 15 times and maintained a perfect passer rating. Wilson nearly quintupled that number of passes to Lockett.
It makes you wonder what this tandem might produce this season now that receiver Doug Baldwin is no longer playing.
Might it become one of the NFL’s top QB-WR duos?
Could Lockett make Seahawks history now that he’s the undisputed No. 1?
All this is conjecture, of course, but the potential is there.
Wilson is the best quarterback Seattle has ever had and is in the thick of his prime.
Lockett just had a career season and is just 26 years old.
And unless rookie DK Metcalf becomes the game-changing receiver fans have been fantasizing about, Wilson isn’t exactly target-rich when it comes to pass-catchers.
So could this be a record-breaking season for Wilson and Lockett?
Seahawks offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer didn’t get into that, but he does love him some Lockett.
Asked about the Kansas State product Friday, Schottenheimer couldn’t help but gush.
“I’m always going to start with Tyler. He does everything that we expect him to do. If there’s a smarter, more instinctive football player, then I don’t know who it is at that position,” Schottenheimer said. “That’s why he produces the way he produces. That’s why gets open the way he gets open.”
It was uncertain whether Lockett would ever be a dynamic receiver in the league again after breaking his fibula and tibia in Week 16 of the 2016 season.
He was serviceable the following year when he tallied 555 receiving yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn’t until last season that he showed All-Pro potential.
His 16.9 yards per catch were the sixth most in the league, and second only to Tyreek Hill (17.0) for receivers with at least 10 TDs.
With Baldwin gone, it’s unlikely that the yards-per-catch number is going to go up, but barring injury, the total catches should.
Wilson is acutely aware of what he and Lockett were able to achieve last year and seems to think they can repeat it.
“Tyler and I, we’ve been super close and being able to connect and make a lot of great plays together,” said Wilson. “He’s great on deep balls, he’s great in the short-game and mid-range game. He can do everything. So I’m looking forward to that game-time connection and making that happen again.”
The Seahawks record for receiving yards is 1,287 by Steve Largent in 1985. That would have been 12th in the NFL last season, so it’s not unreasonable to think it can’t go down.
In fact, the biggest hindrance to making history might not have anything to do with Wilson or Lockett but rather the Seahawks’ commitment to the run.
Still, in the increasingly pass-happy NFL, it’s hard to win without regularly letting it fly.
A few days ago, I wrote about Bobby Wagner, saying he has to have a career season given some of the departures on defense.
The same is likely true of Wilson and Lockett now that Baldwin won’t be around.
In 2018, the two were perfect together.
In 2019, they might have to be historic.