Give Jimmy Graham credit. During the two days of flying his private plane to the gulf coast of Florida, having his career uprooted from the only team he's known in New Orleans, having someone else fly him to the opposite corner of the country, passing a physical, meeting his new coach, general manager and Seahawks staff, seeing his new city of Seattle and then flying all the way back to Florida, he's somehow found the time to internalize why he is the newest Seahawk.
Yesterday, on a conference call with Seattle-area reporters, the huge tight end with 171 receptions and 26 touchdowns the last two seasons nailed why the Seahawks traded their two-time Pro Bowl center Max Unger and their first-round draft pick for him:
To loosen up the way stuffed-at-the-line schemes to combat the running of Marshawn Lynch, jam the Seahawks' wide receivers off routes and thus defend Seattle's entire offense.
"I’ve been watching some film and it seems like a lot of teams play a lot of cover zero (both safeties crowding the line of scrimmage, zero in the middle of the field) against them because of Marshawn Lynch and because the read-option is so good," Graham said of Lynch's combination runs with quarterback Russell Wilson. "Marshawn, you have to put guys in the box. You have to bring safeties down. And so when you’re playing cover zero, there’s a lot of one-on-one, there’s a lot of opportunities down the field, there’s a lot of opportunities in that middle section where you’ll have guys on these one-on-one matchups.
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"I think eventually teams won’t be able to do that. You’re not going to be able to go cover zero just to stop the run. I think I can help open that up."
Graham also hit on a corollary reason he's now a $40 million Seahawk, one coach Pete Carroll mentioned Tuesday: To catch balls inside the opponents' 20- and 10-yard lines. Seattle was 21st in the NFL in touchdown percentage from inside the red zone (51.7 percent) and 29th in TDs on goal-to-go plays.
The idea is with a towering former four-year basketball player at the University of Miami out-leaping and box-out smaller defenders near the goal line, all those 30-yard field goals by Steven Hauschka last season will become double the points on more touchdowns. Actual, Russell-Wilson-throws-the-ball-into-the-end-zone scores, too.
"Then in the red zone - that’s something I’ve always been good at. I’m 6’7”, 260 pounds and most of those are like a rebound for me," said Graham, who is one of eight players in Miami hoops history with 100 career blocked shots. "So I’m looking to fit in anywhere they need me. You know, I’m a team player and I’m all about winning. Wherever they want me and whatever they want me to do, I’m 100 percent on board -- and that’s with anything."
So what, he says, that he's going from a Saints team that had Drew Brees throwing the second-most passes in the league last season to the Seattle team that threw it the fewest times, 200 fewer times than New Orleans..
"In New Orleans, we’ve really been slinging the rock but like I said a minute ago, it’s all about winning," Graham said. "It’s all about having an opportunity and a chance to win a championship and that’s what I care about. If a team needs me to catch 100 footballs or a team needs me to catch 30, or a team needs me to catch 15 touchdowns or 5 touchdowns, I’m gonna do it. I’m going to do whatever it takes to win. I’m not complaining at all about any of that. I just want to be a part of this team and I want to be there in big moments for this team and this franchise to help us win games."
Here is what I detailed in today's News Tribune on Graham's super-positive, all-in comments after what he described as initial shock with Tuesday's trade.
It includes his difficult upbringing in Goldsboro, North Carolina: Dropped off at a social services office by his father at age 9 and then at a state home for foster children and orphans by his mother. Graham grew through crying himself to sleep into a largely self-made basketball star who averaged more than 20 points and 13 rebounds a game in high school. Some of you have linked to it before, but here again is his interview over the first half of this highlight clip in which he describes his hard childhood.
--Stefen Wisniewski update: Oakland's free-agent center-guard was still meeting with the Seahawks this morning at team headquarters in Renton, according to Rams beat writer Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch; the Rams are also interested. Seahawks GM John Schneider was in Eugene yesterday at Oregon's pro-day workouts, so Wisniewski being there today means Schneider can presumably meet with him.
As we've talked about, Wisniewski's relative youth (he's 25), durability (his missed three games in four seasons) and versatility in playing two positions of need for Seattle make him a seemingly idea and presumably cheaper fit for the Seahawks to replace Unger and/or departed free agent left guard James Carpenter, who signed this week with the Jets.
--Look who has a one-year contract with Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills:
Yes, it's a far cry from the multiyear deal with a gazillion dollars still left on it Harvin had at this time last year as the Seahawks' No. 1 receiver -- before he ticked off the entire organization, chiefly Carroll for refusing to re-enter multiple games early last season, the final one the home loss to Dallas in early October. Seattle traded him to the Jets five days later for what became a sixth-round draft choice from New York next month.
--As some of you on here have already noitced, you guys and gals need to find a new Seahawks whipping post: Unrestricted free-agent punt returner Bryan Walters from suburban Kirkland has agreed to a deal with Gus Bradley and the Jacksonville Jaguars and says "I see myself being a solid slot receiver in this league."