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When it comes to Seahawks’ tight ends, it’s always Zach Miller time

Posted Apr 17, 2014

Adding Anthony McCoy to the one-two punch of Zach Miller and Luke Willson at tight end only makes the position stronger as the Seahawks look to defend their Super Bowl championship.


When you coach the Seahawks’ tight ends, the more things change the more they stay the same.

At least that was the reaction of Pat McPherson after his postseason self-scouting evaluation of the play of team’s tight ends during the Seahawks’ Super Bowl run in 2013.

“The review of the tight end position just showed how valuable Zach was,” said McPherson, who is entering his fifth season as the position coach. “I’m sure that’s pretty obvious, but definitely in all the different things that we do – and ask him to do – he was really big.”

2014 TIGHT ENDS

Starter
Zach Miller

Backups
Luke Willson
Anthony McCoy
Cooper Helfet
Travis Beckum

Lost in free agency
Kellen Davis (Giants)

2013 reception leaders
Zach Miller 33
Luke Willson 20

2013 yardage leaders
Zach Miller 387
Luke Willson 272

2013 per-catch average leaders
Luke Willson 13.6
Zach Miller 11.7

2013 touchdown catch leaders
Zach Miller 5
Luke Willson 1
Kellen Davis 1

2013 significant statistics
The trio of Zach Miller, Luke Willson and Kellen Davis combined to catch 59 passes for 691 yards and seven touchdowns; the Seahawks’ averaged 136.8 rushing yards, which ranked fourth in the league, and blocking by the tight ends – especially Miller – was a key component; Miller’s receptions in his three seasons with the Seahawks have gone from 25 in 2011, to 38 in 2012 to 33 in 2013; Willson’s 20 receptions were the third-highest total by a rookie tight end in franchise history behind John Carlson (a team-leading 55 in 2008) and Jerramy Stevens (26 in 2002).

When it comes to Miller, who was signed in free agency during the lockout-erased 2011 offseason, his game is as solid as his 6-foot-5, 255-pound body. Whether blocking for Marshawn Lynch or catching passes from Russell Wilson, the veteran tight end brings needed elements of stability and timely productivity to the offense.

“Zach is a real solid player, no question,” said McPherson, who then added with a laugh, “He makes me a better coach, that’s for sure.”

Looking ahead, with the offseason program kicking off on Monday, McPherson said, “We need to shore up some spots, as far as what we’re doing in short-yardage situations. We need to improve there. We weren’t as good as we need to be.”

As with everything else the tight ends do, Miller will be the leader when it comes to achieving that goal. But McPherson also is getting Anthony McCoy back, after the 2010 sixth-round draft choice missed last season because of a torn Achilles tendon; and will have a more experienced Luke Willson, a fifth-round draft choice last year who served as the second tight end during his rookie season.

Willson played in all 16 games during the regular season, starting seven, despite getting a high-ankle sprain late in the season. He averaged 13.6 yards on 20 receptions, including a three-catch, 70-yard performance that included his first NFL touchdown in the Week 14 loss to the 49ers in San Francisco.

“Luke had a good season,” McPherson said. “Most rookies are going to hit a wall at some point, and there was a point where he slowed down just a bit. But he never really full-on hit that wall like a lot of them do – especially going all the way to the Super Bowl like we did.

“He caught the ball really well and ran pretty good routes. He’s got to get a lot better at that, and keep improving in the run game. But I was pretty pleased with him. He’s a sharp kid and it means a lot to him.”

McCoy, meanwhile, caught 18 passes for a 16.2-yard average and three TDs in 2012.

“It will be great to have Anthony back,” McPherson said. “With Zach and Anthony and Luke, if they all stay healthy, that’s a really good group. We can do a lot of different things because of their skills.”

Add the versatility provided by the wide-out trio of Percy Harvin, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse, and it’s like McPherson said, “We’re going to be all over the map as far as personnel. That’s a lot of flexibility and we’re going to keep our opponents on their toes.”

Game Rewind: Seattle Seahawks