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“Just So Good At Everything He Does"
Like the rest of the Seahawks offense, wide receiver Tyler Lockett is off to a great start to the 2020 season. 
By John Boyle Oct 02, 2020

This is the Seahawks Gameday Magazine feature story for Week 4 of the 2020 season, presented by CenturyLink. Visit our Game Center for more information related to Week 4 vs. the Miami Dolphins.

When Tyler Lockett plays video games, he does so with one goal in mind, regardless of the game.

"Whether it's NBA 2K or whether I'm playing Call of Duty or Madden, I try to do the same thing, I try to be a floor general," the Seahawks receiver said. "If I'm at quarterback or if I'm playing basketball, I'm trying to figure out, what can I do to expose certain people? So it's the same when I come out here on the football field in real life."

This season, more than ever, Lockett and Russell Wilson are teaming up to expose opposing defenses.

Wilson, understandably, has been getting a lot of attention for his hot start, which earned him NFC West Player of the Month honors, but it's impossible to separate Wilson's MVP-caliber play from the connection he has with his pass-catchers, most notably Lockett and DK Metcalf.

Because Metcalf is built like a comic book character, and because he was a big name heading into last year's draft, and because nearly every catch seems to be on a deep ball—Metcalf is averaging an absurd 24.8 yards per catch—the second-year receiver has rightly been getting a lot of hype this year.

But don't let Wilson's torrid start or Metcalf's big plays and superhero muscles distract you from the season Lockett is having. As Metcalf put it on Twitter Thursday, Lockett might be one of the most underappreciated players in the league at his position, at least outside of Seattle.

Through three games, Lockett has 24 catches for 259 yards and four touchdowns, three of which came in the first half of last week's win over Dallas. Those numbers put him on pace to eclipse last year's career-best totals of 82 catches and 1,057 yards, numbers that would have been even better had Lockett not played through both a significant leg injury and serious illness in the second half of last season. For most of Lockett's first four seasons, he was Seattle's second or third option with Doug Baldwin leading the way, but injuries to Baldwin in 2018, then Baldwin's retirement the following year led to Lockett emerging as Wilson's No. 1 target, and Lockett has thrived in that role.

In 2018, Wilson famously had a perfect passer rating when targeting Lockett for the entire season, then last year Lockett set career highs for catches and yards. This year he has been even better, and if Lockett is underrated outside of the VMAC, he definitely isn't among his teammates and coaches.

"Would you say he's underrated? I don't know," offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. "… The thing that doesn't get talked about with Tyler is his football instincts. His FBI—football intelligence, whatever you call it, it is off the charts. You take an extremely quick and dynamic athlete with great speed, and you touch him and give him the gift of football intelligence, and he's a hard matchup. He's playing at a high level. For a guy of his size—I haven't been around many guys his size, T.Y. Hilton, I was around him in Indy—but for a guy with his size, his ability to get open is very, very unique. In my mind he's not underrated, because I see him every day in practice."

Lockett, who had a season-best nine catches for 100 yards last weekend, and Wilson, who has thrown and league-high 14 touchdown passes through three games, formed a strong bond not long after Lockett arrived in Seattle. From early in Lockett's Seattle career, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll compared the young receivers work ethic to Wilson's, and the two also share a strong Christian faith and unimpeachable character, only strengthening their off-field connection.

And as Lockett has emerged as Wilson's top target in recent years, it has become even more evident that those two have a unique connection that leads to so many big plays in big moments.

"Tyler, he's just so special," Wilson said. "He knows the game in and out, he knows the game plan. I always tell you guys, he's like the quarterback on the field. He's just been so dialed in ever since he's gotten here… He loves doing it the right way just keeps finding a way to get open. They can't cover him. He's just he just so good at everything he does. He's so quick and so fast and just so decisive, he makes the right play every time."

As good as Wilson and Lockett are on-script, including all three touchdowns last week, what makes their connection particularly special is how in sync they are when a play breaks down. Because of Wilson's unique ability to extend plays and make big things happen, all Seahawks receivers have to be adept at scramble-drill plays, but Lockett in particular always seems to be in the right spot when Wilson escapes the pocket.

"They've been doing it for a long time," Carroll said. "The last three years have been great years for those two guys, so this is just an extension of it. Three years ago I think they had a perfect rating, so how can you do any better than that? So it's just a matter of continuing to work together and finding the openings and the spacing—the magic really happens after the play breaks down. There's the execution downfield on time and on rhythm, that that's one thing, but it's the other stuff that makes Tyler such an extraordinary player and separates him from anybody. And then of course, the fact that in Russ—I go back I've said this before—they're both such extraordinary natural athletes, they respond to situations similarly. Tyler can do anything, play anything, shoot the hoops, he can do anything, and Russ is the same way. And all of that athleticism and natural sense and all that, it just seems to work together, and they see things the same, often, so they respond together, often. So it's a magic that's really special and fun to see."

As Carroll notes, both Wilson and Lockett aren't just high football IQ players, they're also well-rounded athletes who grew up thriving in other sports. Being a multi-sport athlete can help any player in just about any situation, but it really shows up when both players are improvising mid-play.

"I think playing different sports contributes, because one of the things I look at is basketball," Lockett said. "Everything is moving really fast all the time, and you have to be able to see the floor different. Sometimes you've got to be a floor general—I played point guard all the time so I had to understand the concept of the game, I had to understand who had the hot hand, where the people were going to be at based off a certain plays that we played, if I penetrated the lane, if a certain person came, I had to figure out, do I dish it or do I make the layup? It's all those different types of things that come into play… It's kind of like, you try to be that second quarterback on the football field to where, when a play breaks down, you're kind of thinking the way that he would think, or when a play breaks down, you're understanding all the route concepts around you so that you can be able to constantly try to figure out how to get open and further your game along with just running a route."

Over the past three seasons, Wilson and Lockett have emerged as one of the best quarterback-receiver duos in the league, and more and more people outside of Seattle are beginning to recognize Lockett for what he is.

"If he's not one of the top 10 or 15 receivers in the NFL, then I might need to study some more tape, because I think he is," Schottenheimer said.

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