At tight end for Seattle, it’s the same as it ever was — and that was good enough to get to the Super Bowl the past two years.
Plenty of people are all atwitter about Jimmy Graham’s season-ending injury and wondering how the Seahawks will replace him.
Well, how about the same way they replaced Zach Miller last year? Luke Willson, Cooper Helfet and a new guy.
Last year, the new guy was Tony Moeaki. This year it is — at least for now — Chase Coffman.
As sad as it might be, the Seahawks are used to this kind of upheaval at tight end. It really dates all the way back to Pete Carroll’s first year, when the Seahawks ignored John Carlson all the way until the playoffs, then used him to help upset the Saints in the Beast Quake game and then lost him — and their game plan — to a concussion the next week in Chicago.
The Seahawks then stunningly gave Miller a big contract in 2011, and everyone dreamed of a great 1-2 combo at tight end with Miller and Carlson — until the latter was knocked out by shoulder surgery in the preseason. They never played together.
The Seahawks wasted Miller’s receiving skills in 2011 and 2012, throwing him just 63 passes as he operated as a de facto sixth offensive lineman. Then injuries befell him in 2013 and 2014, and the Seahawks had to make due with a motley crew that included Willson, Kellen Davis, Helfet and Moeaki.
After Miller went on IR at midseason last year, Moeaki and Helfet took turns sitting out games while Willson alternated great weeks with horrendous ones. He had a career-best 139 yards and two TDs at Arizona, then dropped two passes in the finale vs. St. Louis.
Then he caught four passes for 68 yards and a touchdown in the divisional playoff game against Carolina. He didn’t do much in the NFC title game against Green Bay — until he caught a huge two-point conversion that gave Seattle an important three-point lead with 1:25 left. Then Willson did nothing in the Super Bowl as Seattle tight ends were shut out.
The Seahawks made the monster trade for Graham in March with the idea of giving Russell Wilson a great, big, superstar weapon. Graham was on pace to set team records for a tight end and finished with 48 catches (third in team history), 605 yards (second) and two touchdowns.
Graham gave Wilson something he hadn’t had. But now the Seahawks are back to what they had the past two years — and that was good enough for them to reach two Super Bowls.