RENTON — It’s been only two games, and perhaps this column should stop right there.
To draw conclusions based on such limited information seems a little foolish.
Still, we’re talking about DK Metcalf here, the freak-of-nature Seahawks receiver whose on-the-field and off-the-field exploits have drawn eyeballs from every corner of the country. Is everything OK with him?
The stats, for one, are down. Through those first two contests — a win over Indianapolis and a loss to Tennessee — Metcalf has nabbed 10 receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown on 16 targets. For context, through the first two games of last season, he had eight catches for 187 yards and two touchdowns on 14 targets.
It’s not that he is being thrown to less often. It’s just that, aside from a 30-yard grab against the Colts, he hasn’t been an attraction for Russell Wilson’s deep ball. So what gives?
Well, Wilson will tell you it’s the coverage. Against the Colts, Metcalf had two defenders shadowing him most of the game. When you stand 6 feet 4, weigh 235 pounds and run a 4.33-second 40-yard dash, you’re going to have the defense’s attention for all 3,600 seconds of a ballgame. Especially when you hold the Seahawks’ season receiving yards record, which Metcalf set last year.
It’s fair to wonder if his teammate Tyler Lockett — whose 278 receiving yards this season are second in the NFL — would be producing at such a high level without Metcalf on the field. Opponents have to pick their poison, and an open Metcalf is human arsenic.
“He definitely opens things for everybody else,” Wilson said. “The good thing is we’ve always been able to diversify the football. That’s one of the things we do really well. Any time DK touches the ball, it may go to the house. That’s a good thing for us, so we want to make sure he keeps touching the football.”
For what it’s worth, Metcalf said the only thing opponents are doing differently with him this season is “talking more (trash).” But that might be an effective tactic. Metcalf got a taunting penalty in Week 1 for getting in the face of Colts linebacker Darius Leonard. He got in a sideline scuffle last week and has been called for five penalties this season. That’s a lot for flags for any position, but is particularly salient for a receiver.
On Wednesday Seahawks coach Pete Carroll praised Metcalf’s competitiveness but said he has to calm down some. He added that, ambitious as Metcalf is working on the field, he’s been “trying a little too hard.”
Carroll’s comments were relayed to DK when he met with the media Thursday. His response?
“He’s completely right. I’m an emotional person, and I play with a competitive edge,” said Metcalf, who’s in his third NFL season. “I’m not trying to lose at anything, whether it’s an argument, route or anything. I’m just going to compete my butt off and get close to the line but don’t cross it.”
Unless it’s a goal line or finish line. This offseason, Metcalf ran a 10.36 100-meter time in a USA Track and Field event, where he held his own against some of the top sprinters in the country. And in the regular season he had 10 touchdown receptions, tied for eighth in the NFL. Throw in his chase-down of Cardinals safety Budda Baker in Arizona, and he made for one of the more compelling specimens in sports. Understandable that the hype surrounding him this year was as high as a Himalaya.
There is likely no need to worry about the Pro Bowler after a relatively quiet start to this season. Like turnovers or home runs, the big plays often come in bunches. And given his confidence and ability — not to mention that he is in a contract year — they’re almost surely going to come.
On Thursday, Seattle Times reporter Adam Jude asked Metcalf how his previously sore knee was feeling. Answered DK: “My knee is good. Are you trying to race and find out? I’ll give you a head start at the 50, I’ll start at the goal line, and we will race to the other goal line. That’s how good my knee is.”
No word on whether this contest is going to happen, but it gives you some insight as to how Metcalf’s mind operates. Doubt him even a little bit, and he’s gonna come for you.