RENTON, Wash. – Entering his second NFL season, DK Metcalf not only wanted to keep making spectacular plays, but also make the spectacular seem routine.
Metcalf wants to avoid the kind of lapses that happened occasionally in his rookie year, such as in the second-to-last regular-season game of 2019, when the Arizona Cardinals held him without a catch for the only time in his short pro career.
As Metcalf prepares for redemption against the Cardinals and perennial standout cornerback Patrick Peterson – who shadowed him in the Seahawks’ dreary loss last December – he is well on his way to giving the most powerful of stiff arms to any concerns of inconsistency.
Through the first five games of the NFL season, there has been no more consistent receiver than Metcalf. He is the only player in the league who has at least 90 yards receiving in every game (92 or more, to be exact) in catching 22 passes for 496 yards, 99.2 yards per game, second in the NFL only to Arizona’s DeAndre Hopkins (100.2).
If he does it again Sunday, he will become only the fifth player in NFL history to have 90 or more yards receiving in each of the first six games of the season.
To put that into personal perspective, Metcalf topped the 90-yard mark only once last season – when he had 123 in an overtime game against Tampa Bay.
Not that Metcalf should be expected to get 90 yards receiving every game – consider that the NFL record for average receiving yards per game for a career is 96 by Julio Jones, the only player in history with an average of 90 yards or more per game.
There will inevitably be drop-offs – but none, Metcalf can hope, like the only blemish on his season, the fumble that cost him a touchdown against Dallas.
But the numbers indicate that Metcalf – who is still just 22 years old – is taking the step forward that everyone with the Seahawks hoped he could in his second NFL season.
Why has it happened?
As has been well-documented, Metcalf spent significant time this summer hanging out and working out with Russell Wilson, the two forging a bond that has compelled Wilson to refer to Metcalf as a “little brother,” though younger is probably the better term.
Thursday, when Metcalf talked to media via Zoom, he also credited the type of maturation process from year one to year two that is hoped for but doesn’t always necessarily happen.
“Just leaning on my God-given and just seeing the game differently,” Metcalf said. “It’s slowed down for me this year in my mind.”
Metcalf also cited his preparation, which has become more sophisticated.
Last season, Metcalf said his weekly preparation was still focused mostly on making sure he understood the plays and the playbook. Now that he has it mostly mastered, Metcalf said he can devote film watching time to studying the intricacies of opposing defensive backs.
Metcalf, in attempting to explain it, invented a new word.
“My attention to detail has changed ‘dramastically,’ ” Metcalf said.
Yes, that’s what he said, melding the words dramatically and drastically, and maybe rightfully so since each would appear to fit, given Metcalf’s stats this season.
But Metcalf isn’t just watching film of opponents but also of some of the best receivers of the modern era. Earlier this year he said he watched all of Jones’ targets in 2016, the year the Falcons advanced to the Super Bowl, playing the Seahawks twice along the way.
A new project is watching all of the targets of Calvin Johnson from 2012, the year Johnson set the NFL record for receiving yards in a season with 1,964.
“Just me looking up to guys like that and just seeing the nuances of their game and just trying to see how I can get better each and every time,” Metcalf said.
Which actually brings us back to the future and Sunday’s game against Arizona.
One of the games Metcalf watched was a game against Arizona, when Johnson was shadowed by Peterson. Johnson caught 10 passes for 121 yards but Arizona won 38-10.
Metcalf didn’t shy away from what happened the last time he faced Arizona and Peterson.
“I believe that’s self-explanatory,” he said. “They kind of took me out of the game.”
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said that was too harsh of an explanation, noting the entire offense struggled that day, when both Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise were lost for the season to injuries while Wilson was sacked five times and held to a season-low 169 passing yards.
Four of the sacks were by Chandler Jones, who is out for the season with a biceps injury. Without Jones, the Cardinals have been blitzing at an increasing rate. It worked well against Dallas and Andy Dalton.
But Wilson is typically one of the best in the NFL against blitzes, which also usually leave receivers in more man coverage.
That brings it back to Metcalf and Peterson.
Metcalf said he fully expects to again be shadowed by Peterson.
“In my mind, I feel like I must be doing something right,” Metcalf said of getting special attention from opponents. “But it just opens up the offense even more for guys like Tyler (Lockett), Freddie (Swain) and (David Moore) to just really show what they can do. And you know, we won’t have that problem for weeks to come because they’ll have to pick their poison.”
But Metcalf will always want his share. Asked this week his favorite thing about football, Metcalf said catching touchdown passes.
“They are like Pokemon to me,” he said. “I’ve got to have them all.”
Hard to bet against him achieving that goal, too, at this point.
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