RENTON, Wash. -- Jimmy Graham's role has become a weekly topic in Seattle. When offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell steps to the podium every Wednesday, he knows the questions are coming.
"It’s always going to be a question for us, I know that," Bevell said. "We’re doing everything we can to try to get everybody involved in the offense. We want Jimmy to catch balls. I know you’ll probably ask me that every week. We want him involved, we want him to catch balls. There’s a lot of things that we ask him to do, whether it’s catching, whether it’s blocking, whether it’s being a decoy. You can just go on and on. And we expect him to do it the best that he can."
According to ESPN Stats & Information, Graham has lined up attached to the line of scrimmage on 61 percent of his snaps through four games. That number was 37 percent last season.
The receiving numbers are fascinating because Russell Wilson has been successful when targeting Graham, but he isn't throwing to the tight end as much as Drew Brees did. Wilson is completing 81.8 percent of his passes when targeting Graham.
When Graham goes out into pass routes, he's seeing the ball 18.3 percent of the time. That's the lowest mark of his career. In New Orleans, the number was 26.3 percent.
Danny Kelly of Field Gulls charted the last game, and we may be seeing somewhat of a shift in how Graham's being used. Per Kelly, Graham went out into pass routes 80 percent of the time against the Lions and was detached from the line of scrimmage 60 percent of the time.
As for Graham's blocking, Bevell admitted that it's a work in progress.
"It’s been good sometimes, it hasn’t been good sometimes," Bevell said. "He’s willing to do it, he’s willing to continue to work on it. He’s a tight end for us. That’s something that’s part of the position. We’re trying to put him in positions to be successful, and that he’s going to be able to do it when we need it to be done, and we know that’s not where we want to make our living with him in there, but that’s part of the position. That’s going to be something that he’s going to have to do, and it’s something that he wants to do, believe it or not."
Graham is on pace for 696 yards. That would be the lowest total since his rookie year. And to put it into leaguewide perspective, 11 tight ends last year had more yards.
When the Seahawks made the deal for Graham, they knew what they were getting: one of the best pass-catching tight ends in the league and a player who can be a matchup nightmare. That's why they included center Max Unger and a first-round pick in the deal. Blocking had nothing to do with it.
So far, there have been flashes, but Bevell is right. Graham's role and usage will continue to be a storyline to monitor all season long.