Since the Seattle Seahawks were added as an expansion team in 1976, the wide receiver position has often stood out, and 2020 is no different.
From Steve Largent to Brian Blades, Joey Galloway to Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram to Doug Baldwin, Seattle knows a thing or two about good pass catchers. Carrying the torch in the present day is DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, a pair who is outperforming any duo in team history.
Metcalf and Lockett are an unlikely twosome for many reasons.
Metcalf, at 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds of sheer muscle, has a game-breaking combination of speed and strength. He's chiseled in the form of a Greek god but often moves like a racehorse on the football field.
Selected 64th overall in 2019, Metcalf has silenced some critics since coming to Seattle. He fell on draft day despite two standout seasons at Ole Miss, and he's used it as motivation ever since. Joining the Seahawks organization turned out to be the best thing for Metcalf.
"I've heard stories from, you know, the chefs upstairs to (WRs) coach Nate (Carroll) of how excited they were when they drafted me, of how Russ (Wilson) was so excited and that just shows the character of this organization and I just feel welcomed here," Metcalf said of how he felt when Seattle drafted him.
"I'm kind of excited and glad I didn't get drafted in the top 10 because I probably wouldn't have the same work ethic that I have. Now that I see that I got drafted in almost the third round, it means that I have to work that much harder just to make them pay and just to make them see what they're missing out on."
Lockett (5-foot-10, 182 pounds) doesn't stand out physically, but his quickness and rapport with quarterback Russell Wilson is unmatched. If you crossed him walking on the street, he wouldn't stand out in any noticeable way. On the field, though, he's rapidly become one of the league's best wideouts.
Lockett played his college ball at Kansas State. He was a steady weapon for four seasons, and totaled over 1,000 receiving yards in his junior and senior campaigns. Skeptics wondered if Lockett's size would hinder him in the NFL before the Seahawks moved up in the draft and selected him 69th overall in 2015. Similarly to his teammate, Lockett has found the perfect situation in Seattle.
While both Metcalf and Lockett had strong seasons in 2019 (and earlier in Lockett's case), 2020 has truly been a revelation. One of them is having a career game seemingly every week, and the one who doesn't goes and does it the next week. The two are in a constant competition with each other to get better and help the Seahawks win games.
"I think a lot of teams (last year) were going to see what he could do first," Lockett said of Metcalf's rookie season. "Now that everybody was able to see what he could do, I think the second season he's already showing, like, 'Y'all better pick your poison. Like do whatever you want to do -- if you're going to try to stop both of us it's still not going to work. If you're going to try to stop one of us the other is going to ball out.'"
"Me and Tyler feed off of each other very well," Metcalf said. "We don't care who gets the credit or who gets the shine one week because he has my back no matter what and I have his no matter what. Like I said, shout out to (David Moore) and Freddie (Swain). They come up clutch every time they come into the game. It just speaks highly of our receiver room and the standard that we hold each other to."
Through seven games, the two are on a record-setting pace – both individually and as a pair. Metcalf enters Week 9 with 36 receptions for 680 yards and seven touchdowns. Lockett, meanwhile, has 49 catches for 575 yards and seven scores. With Green Bay playing last night, Lockett and Metcalf are currently tied for second in the NFL lead in receiving touchdowns, but their combined total (14) ranks first among teammate pairs.
Both players are on pace to break the franchise records for receiving yards (1,287, Largent 1985) and receiving touchdowns (14, Baldwin 2015) in a season. At their current 16-game pace, Metcalf would end the season with 82 receptions, 1,554 yards and 16 touchdowns. Lockett would have a team-record 112 receptions (94, Baldwin 2016 and Engram 2007), 1,314 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Prior to this season, only 10 players in history have finished a season with at least 1,300 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns -- which both players are on track to do. There's only been one instance where multiple players in the league finished with those numbers in the same season (Rob Gronkowski and Calvin Johnson in 2011).
To put it in a franchise historical perspective, the Seahawks franchise has had only two 1,000-yard pass-catches in the same season once. That season was 1995, when Joey Galloway (1,039) and Brian Blades (1,001) narrowly crossed the threshold. Two players with double-digit touchdown catches in the same season is just as rare in Seattle, as 1984 with Steve Largent (12) and Daryl Turner (10) was the only occurrence.
Entering 2020, it clearly wasn't a guarantee that Metcalf and Lockett would both be this good. But from Week 1 onward, it's been abundantly obvious they aren't going to slow down.
A tough road game in Atlanta to kick off the season set the tone for each of them. Metcalf had just four catches, but racked up 95 yards and a huge touchdown on a fourth down. Lockett added eight catches for 92 yards, as the Seahawks' record-setting duo proved they were ready for the spotlight – regardless of the lack of preseason games.
In Week 2 against Stephon Gilmore and the Patriots, Metcalf continued to emerge as a star. He had an impressive 54-yard touchdown grab over the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. Lockett again led the team with seven receptions and a touchdown, though his real breakout performance came the following week against the Cowboys. In that game, Lockett had nine catches for 100 yards and three touchdowns.
Over the past several weeks, the duo has only gotten better. Metcalf had two touchdowns against the Vikings in Week 5. Lockett followed that up with an absurd 15-reception, three-touchdown game in Arizona. Last week against the 49ers, it was Metcalf's turn to post a career-high -- 12 receptions, 161 receiving yards and two scores.
"He's just so frickin' tough," Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said of Metcalf. "Whether he's blocking guys, or whether he's catching the ball, or they smack him when the ball arrives and he stands over those guys when they fall off of him. When he caught the ball on the crossing route, I started screaming that they weren't going to get him -- right when he was way over there -- because he's just too fast. He just circled the whole defense and put it in the end zone, and I don't even think they touched him. It was a great play."
Both Metcalf and Lockett are special in their own ways, so Carroll is thrilled they're both on his team. From one week to the next, their targets can vary. The best thing about this unlikely duo is that stats don't matter to them -- it's all about winning.
"We're so fortunate, and those guys are awesome about it," Carroll said last week after defeating the 49ers. "What did Tyler get today? I don't even know what his numbers were. But imagine, he got 20 targets last week, then we come back this week and it goes the other way and everybody's fine about it, and everybody just takes what comes their way... We're very fortunate, and they're both so unique."
The guy throwing Metcalf and Lockett the ball obviously plays a factor in their success, but Russell Wilson downplayed his role and hyped up his teammates.
"We have so many guys that can step up and step in, so many great players," Wilson said. "But those two guys, arguably two of the best receivers in the game, in my opinion."
A whopping 122 of Wilson's 256 passing attempts through seven games have gone to them, with a combined 10 other pass catchers receiving the other 134 targets.
Regardless of how this season ends up statistically for Metcalf and Lockett, they've let the world know just how great of a duo they are. At this point, it's hard to argue there's a better pair in the NFL.