"I don’t think they use him quite as creatively as the Saints used him," Mathieu told PFT Live. "I played against Jimmy in 2013 when he was with the Saints, and I mean he was all over the field. The biggest thing with them was [they] created mismatches for him, and [Sunday] he wasn’t really in a position where we felt like it was a mismatch. We felt like we had great cover guys on him all the time, and those two weeks we had to prepare for them, it really helped us a whole lot."
Graham could have had a bigger day against Arizona. He dropped two catchable passes and had a third ripped out of his hands in the end zone.
Overall, Graham is on pace for 72.9 catches and 872.9 yards. He's averaging 54.6 yards per game, which ranks 10th among tight ends.
But is Mathieu right about the way the Seahawks are using Graham? The numbers from ESPN Stats & Information suggest there is validity to his assertion.
With the Saints, Graham was used as an in-line tight end 37.1 percent of the time. With the Seahawks, that number is 60.1 percent.
He was in the slot 42 percent of the time in New Orleans, but in Seattle, that number is down to 25.7 percent.
And Graham set up out wide on 20.2 percent of his snaps with the Saints, and it has been 13.9 percent with the Seahawks.
The truth is these are two different offenses. With the Saints, run plays made up only 24 percent of Graham's snaps. With the Seahawks, it's been 41.4 percent. Graham has had ups and downs all season long. The biggest issue has been his failure to produce in the red zone. Graham has one red-zone touchdown with the Seahawks. He averaged nine per season in his last three years with the Saints. The Seahawks have scored touchdowns on 35 percent of their red-zone trips, the worst mark in the NFL.
The coaches clearly spent the bye week trying to figure out ways to get Graham in the end zone. In addition to the one pass he had ripped from his hands, Graham also drew a 14-yard pass interference penalty against Mathieu, which gave the offense the ball at the 1-yard-line. The Seahawks ended up running it in from there.
Graham has had ups and downs all season. At times, he's been featured in the offense. But too often, he's been a non-factor. Clearly, the team is not paying him $8 million this season to be 10th among tight ends in receiving yards per game.
With the Seahawks battling to keep their playoff hopes alive and the offense in desperate search to find consistency, it will be interesting to see what they can get out of Graham in the final seven games.