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.

Scouting report

Chris Matthews was one yard away from stardom. Had the Seahawks managed to move the ball a few feet at the end of the game, everyone would have been talking about the undrafted, Canadian Football League, former Foot Locker employee, who entered the Super Bowl with zero career receptions and left with 4 catches for 109 yards and a touchdown. 
Matthews was the latest player brought in by John Schneider and Pete Carroll to fill the role of tall receiver. First, it was 6’5″ Mike Williams, who was a breakout star in 2010 and then a terrible disappointment thereafter. Then there was 6’4″ Sidney Rice who had all the makings of a legitimate #1 wideout, but never found his place in this offense and struggled with health issues. Stephen Williams, standing 6’5″ tall, was a preseason super hero who was cut a few games into the 2013 season.

Most receptions in a season by a Seahawks WR 6’3″ or taller

Rk Year Ht Wt Rec ▾ Yds Y/R TD
1 Mike Williams 2010 6-5 229 65 751 11.55 2
2 Sean Dawkins 2000 6-4 215 63 731 11.6 5
3 Sean Dawkins 1999 6-4 215 58 992 17.1 7
4 Joe Jurevicius 2005 6-5 230 55 694 12.62 10
5 Sidney Rice 2012 6-4 200 50 748 14.96 7
6 Daryl Turner 1984 6-3 194 35 715 20.43 10
7 Daryl Turner 1985 6-3 194 34 670 19.71 13
8 Ray Butler 1987 6-3 200 33 465 14.09 5
9 Sidney Rice 2011 6-4 200 32 484 15.13 2
10 Jeff Chadwick 1990 6-3 190 27 478 17.7 4

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:

Year Tm Ht Wt Rec Yds Y/R TD
Mike Williams 2010 SEA 6-5 229 65 751 11.55 2
David Nelson 2013 NYJ 6-5 217 36 423 11.75 2
David Nelson 2011 BUF 6-5 217 61 658 10.79 5
David Nelson 2010 BUF 6-5 217 31 353 11.39 3
Calvin Johnson 2014 DET 6-5 239 71 1077 15.17 8
Calvin Johnson 2013 DET 6-5 239 84 1492 17.76 12
Calvin Johnson 2011 DET 6-5 239 96 1681 17.51 16
Calvin Johnson 2010 DET 6-5 239 77 1120 14.55 12
Calvin Johnson 2012 DET 6-5 239 122 1964 16.1 5
Vincent Jackson 2012 TAM 6-5 241 72 1384 19.22 8
Vincent Jackson 2014 TAM 6-5 241 70 1002 14.31 2
Vincent Jackson 2013 TAM 6-5 241 78 1224 15.69 7
Vincent Jackson 2011 SDG 6-5 241 60 1106 18.43 9
Andre Holmes 2014 OAK 6-5 208 47 693 14.74 4
Malcom Floyd 2011 SDG 6-5 201 43 856 19.91 5
Malcom Floyd 2014 SDG 6-5 201 52 856 16.46 6
Malcom Floyd 2012 SDG 6-5 201 56 814 14.54 5
Malcom Floyd 2010 SDG 6-5 201 37 717 19.38 6
Mike Evans 2014 TAM 6-5 231 68 1051 15.46 12
Plaxico Burress 2011 NYJ 6-5 226 45 612 13.6 8
Marlon Brown 2013 BAL 6-5 216 49 524 10.69 7
Kelvin Benjamin 2014 CAR 6-5 240 73 1008 13.81 9
Danario Alexander 2012 SDG 6-5 221 37 658 17.78 7

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.

Click on any image to enlarge or restart the clip
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.

Outlook

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.

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