Friday, August 20, 2010

SEAHAWKS: It's Time for John Carlson to take the next step.

The Seahawks have never really had a stud Tight End in their history, maybe the best being Jeremy “butterfingers” Stevens. So when the Seahawks selected John Carlson in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft, I thought, “This is great, he really fills in our Tight End spot!” And boy was I right. He set a Seahawks record his rookie year with 55 receptions and tied the Touchdown record with 5.

But it's time to step it up.

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Carlson has been thought of as the next Jason Witten because of his awareness and his catching abilities. But his second season was almost identical to the first, with him catching 51 passes and 7 touchdowns. So that causes somewhat of a concern that with barely any improvement, he might have hit his ceiling. I am not suggesting that this is true, but it does put pressure on him to improve.

Most Wide Receivers and Tight Ends improve the most from their second season to their third season, as evident in other players. Tony Gonzalez upped his touchdowns from 2 to 11. Steve Smith went from 54 receptions to 88. And it goes on and on. So in my opinion, for this season to be a real success for Carlson, he needs to haul in around 65 balls while catching around 8 touchdowns.

You might be thinking I'm being a little harsh. Well if you look at this new system Pete Carroll is putting in, it's really setting him up to succeed. The Hawks will run something called a "Two Tight End Set" a lot, which essentially has our No. 2 Tight End (Chris Baker) doing most of the blocking so the No. 1 (John Carlson) is more free to catch passes. We very rarely did this last year, resulting in Carlson staying on the line to block most of the time.

Another reason for Carlson to succeed is he is one of the only reliable targets on the team. Besides him, you have T.J. Houshmendzahdeh, a most likely to get injured Deion Branch, and two young, inexperienced guys (Deon Butler and Golden Tate). So Carlson will most likely he Hasselbeck's safety blanket, as Jason Witten is to Tony Romo.

Lastly, Carlson won't be in Gregg Knapp's offense, which didn't run double Tight Ends and forced him to block. Carroll's staff has made a commitment to change that and free him up.

All this to say, John Carlson is primed for a breakout year and if all goes right, he should exceed his rookie numbers and really show Seahawks fans what an elite Tight End really looks like.

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