Rams Rant: Jimmy Graham will falter in Seattle


Recently, an article was posted on ESPN.com about why Jimmy Graham is going to be the most impactful addition to the NFC West this year. Ramblin’ Fan disagrees. Frankly, this is a cop out answer, an answer that all four writers, one for each team in the division, chose as the best answer. Graham is a top tier tight end. He will add another dimension to the Seattle Seahawks offense that they did not have before, but Ramblin’ Fan thinks there was another player that has the potential to make an even bigger impact. That player is Nick Foles.

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Graham was an integral piece of the New Orleans Saints offense since his break out year in 2011. He was selected in the third round of the 2010 NF Draft, but he would be limited to 356 receiving yards that year. However, he would come on to the scene in a big way in 2011 with 1,310 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns. Graham, would never look back. He posted another year of over 1,200 receiving yards and two more years of double-digit touchdowns in the following three years. He is undoubtedly one of the best pass catching tight ends in the game today.

That leads us to one problem; the Seahawks are a run first offense. Which leads us to our second problem. Graham is also one of the worst blocking tight ends in the league. It’s no secret Graham is a below-average blocker, and isn’t very interested in blocking to begin with. If he put as much effort into his blocking as he did arguing he should be paid as a wide receiver you wouldn’t be reading this article. Even Seattle’s GM, John Schneider, has publicly recognized Graham’s inability to block.

Shortly after the trade, Schneider was a guest on 710 ESPN radio. When asked if Graham was considered a dominant run-blocker Schneider said “No, but he’s a dominant pass catcher.” Schneider would go on to elaborate more on the potential for Graham to change the face of the Seahawks offense, but ultimately never had a good answer for how his team would recover when Graham plays the roll of a revolving door and lets St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn turn the edge and blow up a big play.

Nov 30, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham (80) looks on from the field prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Graham posted big numbers in New Orleans thanks to a world-class quarterback in Drew Brees, and the benefits of playing indoors eight times a year. Those are two things he will not have in Seattle. Russell Wilson, while consistent, is certainly not the impact player Brees is, and the cold, wet weather of Seattle will take its toll on Graham. Seahawks fans can expect a steep decline in Graham’s numbers. Something in the ballpark of 700 receiving yards and seven touchdowns seems about right.

The worst part of the Graham situation is the predictability he now burdens their offense with. When Graham is on the field in short yardage situations or third down plays it’s obvious the Seahawks offensive will be looking to throw the ball as a first option. When he isn’t on the field due to his inept blocking skills, Seattle will be more apt to run the ball. They wouldn’t risk running the ball in a high priority situation with Graham attempting to seal the edge, he’s too much of a liability. His inability to block is so glaring, he telegraphs the propensity of the Seahawks offense just by his presence on the field, or the sideline.

Nov 2, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles (9) throws during the first quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

That brings us to our follow up point. According to Ramblin’ Fan, Nick Foles is the player that will have the biggest impact on the NFC West this year. This site has been critical of Foles in the early going, but ultimately the success or failure of Foles will have a larger impact on the future of the Rams, than the success or failure Graham will have on the Seahawks. A successful campaign from Foles could mean the ending to an 11 year playoff drought for a franchise in dire need of something good to hold on to. Graham breaking 1,000 receiving yards doesn’t quite share the same impact.

With the Rams fighting for their future, one that may reside in St. Louis if they can pull together some wins and a postseason birth, Foles impact clearly holds far more weight than a few high light reel catches from Graham. Foles has shown signs of greatness. Many analysts will point to 2013 and shout from the mountain tops that he has the potential to lead a franchise to a post season birth, if someone would just give him the chance. Well, here’s his chance. A chance to be more than a leader, a chance to be the catalyst of a franchise. Somehow, that seems for more important to this writer than whether or not a tight end is paid to block or paid to get open downfield.

Foles holds the keys to the city of what could be a crossroads in the history of a storied franchise. It’s much harder to justify uprooting a winning team, than an unsuccessful one. Had the writers at ESPN been able to see past Graham and his stat line, they may have had a different opinion.