DK Metcalf’s stock continued to skyrocket after he posted a monster 2020 season in just his second NFL campaign. He set a new Seahawks single-season franchise record with 1,303 receiving yards while racking up 10 touchdowns.
There’s reason to believe the 23-year-old phenom has plenty of growth left in him. That’s what NFL legend and current NFL Network analyst Michael Irvin believes.
Irvin, during a Zoom panel alongside Kurt Warner and Steve Mariucci, called Metcalf “a phenomenal, phenomenal young talent.” But Irvin noted Metcalf’s relative struggles when placed on an island against star corners, particularly those in the NFC West.
“Boy he had some battles when he has Jalen Ramsey and Patrick Peterson right there in the division,” Irvin said. “These are two big guys, and they’re always trying to get up on him because they know he’s not great in transitions.”
In four regular season games against the Rams and Cardinals in 2020, contests where Metcalf was primarily shadowed by Ramsey and Peterson, he posted just 13 receptions for 156 yards and one touchdown. That’s an average of just 38 yards per game.
To Metcalf’s credit, he did post five receptions for 96 yards and two touchdowns against the Rams in the Wild Card round. Even so, it’s fair to say there’s room for improvement in those sorts of matchups.
Irvin made it clear that it’s on the coaching staff as well. He brought up Davante Adams’ 1-yard touchdown against the Rams in the Divisional Round. Prior to the snap, Adams motioned from right to left before pivoting and sprinting back to the right at the moment of the snap. Ramsey, who spent the game traveling with Adams, couldn’t make it across the field in time which made for an easy throw and catch.
Ramsey was visibly frustrated after the fact, and Irvin said that’s the type of play that gave everyone on Green Bay’s sideline confidence.
“Where’s some of this stuff for DK Metcalf when he’s going up against these guys?” Irvin asked rhetorically. “It took me back to what Norv Turner used to say: ‘I can’t let their best guy take out our best guy because it messes with our whole offense. It messes with our whole offensive mindset.’”
Irvin then referenced the “Let Russ Cook” movement to note that Seattle’s offense can’t solely rely on the deep ball.
“Man he’s cooking up some great meals, but I wanted to see him drop off some appetizers,” Irvin said. “Get DK something easy.”
It should be noted that Wilson’s pick-six in the playoffs against the Rams came on a quick screen to Metcalf that was jumped and returned for a touchdown by Darious Williams. Even so, that doesn’t diminish Irvin’s point.
Whether it be screens, other routes in the quick game or even getting Metcalf involved in the running game with jet sweeps, manufacturing touches for him, especially in tough matchups, will be paramount for the Seahawks in 2021.
“Guys know you want to go up the field with DK Metcalf, so they’re playing him that way. Kurt (Warner) and I talked about it, sometimes Russell didn’t even look his way,” Irvin said. “They have to fix that by giving him some easy victories in those situations, just like Green Bay gave Davante Adams.”
Recently hired Shane Waldron has already spoken about catering his offensive system to fit his personnel. That assuredly includes maximizing Metcalf’s all-world athleticism.