Seventy-seven receivers have caught at least one pass for the Seattle Seahawks since the franchise was born. Legends like Steve Largent and Jerry Rice, and forgotten contributors like Doug Thomas and Courtney Taylor, have all played some part in the Seahawks receiver history. There have been speed merchants like Joey Galloway, route runners like Darrell Jackson, and slot magicians like Bobby Engram. The most recent fan obsession is the tall receiver. Only six receivers in team history have been at least 6’3″ tall and caught at least 30 passes in a season. Similarly, only six receivers have been that tall and caught at least five touchdowns in a year. Chris Matthews, all 6’5″ of him, will try to join those ranks of productive big men after a memorable Super Bowl performance.
Most receptions in a season by a Seahawks WR 6’3″ or taller
The rarity of tall impact receivers extends beyond Seattle. There have only been eleven players as tall as Matthews who have caught 30 passes or more in a season since 2010:
At around 220 pounds, Matthews is built more like a Plaxico Burress or David Nelson than the behemoth Calvin Johnson, Kelvin Benjamin and Vincent Jacksons that tip the scales at around 240 pounds. Former Seahawk Sean Dawkins might be a good compare. Matthews used his height brilliantly against the Patriots.
|Matthews was well covered on his first catch for 44 yards|
|His height gave Russell Wilson the confidence to let it rip quickly for a touchdown before the half|
|Another well covered route where Matthews simply goes higher|
|Matthews shows his strength here, shoving badass Brandon Browner off him|
It seems pretty simple. Matthews does not need to get open. He just needs the ball thrown up high, and to play against corners who can’t outjump him. His skill set does not necessarily lend itself to being one of the top options for a team, but he showed enough in that one game to prove he can play a valuable role.
Wilson throws one of the best deep balls in football. He does a terrific job of giving his receivers a chance to go up and make a play. Golden Tate was rarely open, but Wilson trusted him to win the 50/50 ball. Jermaine Kearse has been given similar opportunities, with more mixed results. Matthews is promising in that Tate and Kearse have to rely a little more on timing and vertical leap, where Matthews is going to be 6’5″ on every play. He can mistime his jump, and still outstretch most corners.
Red zone work could be another important aspect of his role. Throwing out 6’7″ Jimmy Graham and 6’5″ Matthews will definitely make things challenging for opposing defenses.
One more hidden aspect to his game is special teams. That was what got him on the roster in the first place. The Paul Richardson injury elevated him on the receiver depth chart. Continued focus on special teams will be key if Matthews want to cement his place on the roster. It would be easy for him to think his Super Bowl performance guarantees him a spot and the dirty work on special teams is now beneath him. That would be serious error in judgment.
The door is now open for Matthews to take a step forward and be a consistent contributor on a championship team. Getting to 30 receptions might be a stretch (no pun intended) in this offense. Grabbing at least 5 touchdowns, with a catch total in the mid-20s could be reasonable.