Seahawks receivers starting to grab some attention

Posted Sep 13, 2013

The Seahawks’ diversely talented group of wide receivers put on a show in last week’s season opener, and they will need an encore-plus performance in Sunday night’s home opener against the 49ers.

Kippy Brown has coached some of the best wide receivers to ever wrap their hands around a football.

There are the Johnsons – Andre when Brown was an assistant with the Houston Texans and Calvin during his stint with the Detroit Lions. There also were Anthony Miller, Alvin Harper and Carl Pickens during three stints at the University of Tennessee. And we might as well throw Roy Williams in there, as well, since Brown also coached him while with the Lions.

But this season, his fourth as the wide receivers coach for the Seahawks, Brown has the most diversely talented group of receivers he has ever been associated with. It starts with Sidney Rice and Golden Tate, the starters. It includes Doug Baldwin, who excels as the slot receiver. It doesn’t stop until you include Jermaine Kearse and Stephen Williams, a pair of big-play threats.

“I’ve had single guys who were tremendous football players,” Brown said (pictured left). “But as a whole this group is pretty impressive.”

In the Seahawks’ season-opening win against the Panthers in Carolina last Sunday, the team’s good-hands guys combined to catch 15 of Russell Wilson’s 25 completions for 226 of his 320 passing yards. Baldwin led the way with seven receptions for 91 yards, including four on third downs. Tate caught four balls for 51 yards. Rice had two catches for 35 yards. Kearse scored the team’s only touchdown on a 43-yard reception, which came one play after Williams almost got the TD until his landing on the turf at Bank of America Stadium jarred the ball loose.

Sunday night, when the Seahawks play their nationally televised home opener against the defending NFC Champion San Francisco 49ers at CenturyLink Field, the receivers will need to contribute an encore-plus performance.

The 49ers feature an obvious No. 1 receiver in Anquan Boldin, who had an NFC Offensive Player of the Week effort with 13 catches for 208 yards in San Francisco’s season-opening win over the Green Bay Packers. With the Seahawks, it’s more a case of which one might be the one on any given play.

“For the first time since I’ve been here, we have five No. 1 receivers,” said Tate, a second-round draft choice in 2010. “I feel like every guy can go in and make a big play; every guy is a game-changer.”

Like Kearse, who technically is the fourth receiver in the group but made a franchise-player catch of the 43-yard pass from Wilson last week. Like Williams, who technically is the fifth receiver but had TD catches of 42, 42 and 38 yards during the preseason.

“All our guys can go in at any moment and affect the game,” Tate said. “We will not skip a beat with any of them in there. We just have guys who can make plays.”

After spending the past two seasons as the backup to All-World wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald with the Arizona Cardinals, Williams is just happy to be playing – and he’s grateful that his opportunity has come as part of this group of wide receivers.

“We talk about it all the time, just how diverse our group is,” Williams said. “We all are good at something. It’s not like we’re all the same type of receiver. We’ve got a tall receiver who can run down the field. We’ve got Doug, who can just make anybody miss in the slot. And we’ve got Golden Tate, who is just a big-play maker with his run after the catch. And Jermaine Kearse, who’s just a complete receiver. And we’ve got Sidney, who’s the leader and has been doing it for years and years.

“In our receiver group, you pick your poison. You’re going to stop something, but then we’ve got other people to do other things, too. Anybody in this group could be a starter. Usually when you take out your starters, you kind of see a drop in the game. But it’s not like that with our group.” 

There’s something else that makes Seahawks’ wide-outs special.

“The thing about them that’s good for me is that they’re football players,” said Brown, pointing out that Tate, Baldwin and Kearse also play special teams and Rice could, if needed. “That makes them unique, in that they’re football players first. Then they’re receivers second. So their attitude and how they approach the game, and just loving to be on the field and playing, helps them a lot.”

Another aspect that stands out about Brown’s group – even if it’s not different from the other position groups on the team – is the blending of camaraderie with competitiveness. It’s one for all and all for one, but each wants to be the first one to do this or that.

“A lot of receiver groups don’t mesh, because everybody wants the ball,” Williams said. “But we’re so selfless and we all want to see each other succeed. And that’s a good thing.”

Williams then cracked a smile before adding, “But before the game we’re all like, ‘I’m going to score first.’ Then the next guy says, ‘OK, and I’m going to score after you.’ Then the next guy says, ‘Well, I’m going to score twice.’ And somebody else says, ‘Then I’m going to get two, too.’

“It’s all in good fun, because we go out there and compete together, work hard together and just try to make things happen together.”

Something this group hasn’t been able to do, yet, is silence the nattering nabobs of negativity who question whether the Seahawks have a “true” No. 1 receiver and also pooh-pooh their collective talents.

“I’m not really concerned about how much credit they get. I don’t care about that,” coach Pete Carroll said. “We have good catchers, really good players. The group is a really good group. Whether they get recognition or not, I’m not too worried about that.”

Neither is Tate, who just shrugged before offering, “I feel like we’re making a name for ourselves each day in practice, and in each game.”