The Seattle Seahawks have to finally feel good rolling into the home stretch of the 2016 NFL season. After starting out with a near-loss to the Miami Dolphins and a brutal loss to the Los Angeles Rams where they scored just three points, the Seahawks have bounced back nicely. They’ve lost just one game in the last six, and are sitting at 5-2-1 in the division, as they extended their lead over the 3-4-1 Arizona Cardinals and 3-5 Rams in Week 10.
What’s been the key to their success?
Not surprisingly, the Seahawks have been winning games when tight end Jimmy Graham has been rolling.
The numbers just don’t lie, because when Graham is performing like the dominant player Seattle hoped they had acquired from the New Orleans Saints, it results in the team winning games. To look at it specifically, here’s a game-by-game breakdown of how Graham has done paired with the outcome of the game.
- Week 1 (12-10 win): one catch, 11 yards
- Week 2 (9-3 loss): three catches, 42 yards
- Week 3 (37-18 win): six catches, 100 yards, touchdown
- Week 4 (27-17 win): six catches, 113 yards
- Week 6 (26-24 win): six catches, 89 yards
- Week 7 (6-6 tie): five catches, 53 yards
- Week 8 (25-20 loss): three catches, 34 yards
- Week 9 (31-25 win): eight catches, 103 yards, two touchdowns
What that comes down to is that in games where the Seahawks have won (five games), Graham has totaled 416 yards and all three of his touchdowns, numbers which include that one-catch, 11-yard performance in Week 1. In the games they either lost or tied (three games), Graham totaled 129 yards and no touchdowns, while never topping the 53-yard mark a single time.
It’s been a roller coaster for Graham since arriving with the Seahawks, but the 2016 season is proving that one thing is certain. The Seahawks’ offensive success might depend heavily on how involved Graham is in the offense. In the four games where Graham has at least 89 receiving yards, the Seahawks are averaging 30.25 points per game. In the other four games, they average 10.25 points per game.
While the numbers are drastically different, it obviously doesn’t all have to do with Graham. Seattle’s star tight end isn’t single-handedly taking over games of course, but what he is doing is opening up the field for the rest of the offense. His ability to make big plays, move the chains and act as a dominant red-zone threat is huge for their offense as a whole.
The Seahawks have a massive amount of talent and are rightfully expected to win the NFC West, but with Graham playing at the level we’ve seen in recent weeks, it’s hard to argue that they can’t wind up being one of the best teams in the NFC. That’s the good news for Seattle because the world knows how serious their upside can be.
The bad news? The struggles when Graham isn’t involved in the offense in a big way are scary. An NFL team isn’t going to win many games when averaging 10.25 points, which explains their 1-2-1 record over that span. With a few potentially high-scoring games on the horizon against the likes of the New England Patriots, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers and Green Bay Packers, the Seahawks are going to need all the Graham that they can get.