When Sydney Rice was ruled out for the remainder of the 2013/2014 NFL football season, the Seattle Seahawks looked to be in quite a bind. Without much size on the roster and not having enough time to trade for a tall receiver before the trading deadline, it looked as if Seattle might have to change their approach.
Coming off of that game against St. Louis, where Rice was injured, a different story is taking shape. The Seahawks may in time prove that they are better without Rice on the field, at least this season.
Nick Ashbourne of 12th Man Rising gave us this wonderful information about the effectiveness of Sydney Rice vs. his replacement at this point, Jermaine Kearse.
As you can see via the graphs in the link, Kearse has the same production on half the targets. This instills a huge measure of confidence for Russell Wilson in Kearse, but more importantly means that he is looking elsewhere on the field and finding the open man. Rice’s size can’t be overlooked, but Wilson may have looked over to him a little bit too much even when he wasn’t open because his size demanded the targets.
Now, Wilson cannot force in Rice’s direction. Depending on the play, that can be good or bad, but the way Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate have played these past couple weeks it’s apparent that the more they get the ball in their hands the better off they and the Seahawks are. Kearse will still get his targets because he does present the most size available, but forced throws will be limited.
Then of course we all know Percy Harvin is coming back as soon as this week, so the Hawks become even more dangerous. Harvin is the all-everything guy that can blow the top off of coverage or make nine guys miss in space and score from anywhere on the field, not unlike Golden Tate. Having the two of them on the field at the same time is going to be difficult for defenses to deal with.
That’s not to say that the Seahawks don’t need a big receiver eventually (as soon as they can get one in the 2014 draft preferably), but for now Rice wasn’t necessarily getting it done in the completions per target category and that’s pretty important. If they can continue to get this type of production out of Kearse and innovate enough to get Harvin, Tate and Baldwin the ball, they might be better off… for now, without Rice.