According to ESPN.com's Brady Henderson, it was apparent to head coach Pete Carroll during the Seahawks' Monday night win over the San Francisco 49ers when Jacob Hollister
caught another touchdown pass on what the tight end called "a backyard play" and Josh Gordon
made a pair of key catches down the stretch, something they might not have been in position to do had they not picked up Seattle's offense as quickly as they did.
In Hollister and Gordon, Carroll sees a pair of players to whom the game comes naturally, pointing to Hollister's 3-yard touchdown against the 49ers as an example. It was on a long-developing play that had Russell Wilson
scrambling to his right, then lobbing a pass to Hollister after seeing that safety Jaquiski Tartt had his back turned to the quarterback.
Hollister hauled it in with one hand while falling to the turf.
"Russell sees that Tartt's back is to him, and he can't tell what's going on, so Russ knows, 'I got this,'" Carroll said. "Jake kind of had a feel for it. 'Yeah, just go ahead. We got this guy.' They kind of both knew what was happening, and he dropped the ball on him to make a beautiful touchdown play. Didn't even look like there was any way you can make that play, but those two guys both thought it could happen and they saw it that way. That's a special guy that adds to Russell. You can just tell. That's why he's been able to be part of this thing so quickly and, really, in a big way. A heck of a game by Jacob."
Hollister had a team-high eight catches on 10 targets for 62 yards, all career highs. He was the intended target on the red zone interception Wilson threw on the first possession of overtime. Another foot of air on that throw and Hollister would have four touchdowns in two games, including consecutive game winners in OT.
"Hollister has been great," Wilson said. "The plays he's been making have been so much fun to watch and be a part [of]."
Over the past four games, Hollister has 17 catches on 24 targets for 137 yards and three scores.
That's what the Seahawks imagined when they acquired him from the Patriots for a seventh-round pick right after the draft. The timing suggested they went into the draft looking for a speedy, athletic tight end to complement Will Dissly
, who's an excellent pass-catcher himself but often plays at the end of the line of scrimmage because of his size and blocking prowess. Iowa's Noah Fant
, among others, would have fit the bill as a "move" tight end, but Fant went off the board one spot before the Seahawks' turn came up at No. 21.
The Seahawks were excited about Hollister's potential as a receiver and remained so when they saw his 4.6 speed in action during offseason practices. But when the pads came on early in training camp, his limitations as a blocker at 6-4 and 245 pounds became evident.
It's a big reason he was waived on cut-down day, then spent the first five weeks on the practice squad. The Seahawks promoted him for their win over Cleveland, the game in which Dissly tore his Achilles tendon.
Hollister and Luke Willson
have been Seattle's only true tight ends (not counting George Fant) while Ed Dickson
has worked his way towards a return off injured reserve.
But Hollister should continue to factor heavily into Seattle's offensive plans.
That's especially true with reporting on Thursday indicating Dickson is already heading back to injured reserve
Meanwhile, Gordon made third-down catches to gain 13 and 14 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime, respectively, against San Francisco. In a sign of what the new pecking order might look like in Seattle's receiver corps behind Tyler Lockett
and DK Metcalf
, veteran Jaron Brown
was a healthy scratch and Gordon played 28 of 74 offensive snaps. Malik Turner
and David Moore
played 35 and 20 snaps, respectively.
Carroll and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer noted in the days leading up to that game how well Gordon had picked up Seattle's system. He had only three non-walk-through practices under his belt.
"We gave him a couple days of practice, and he was making sense of so many things, and it looked right off the bat, and he was comfortable and fluent. He wasn't starting and stopping and wondering and having to ask questions and stuff. He made sense of stuff. Some guys, it just comes easy to them," Carroll said. "Those are guys that look like they can throw and catch and hit a golf ball and shoot a jump shot. They're just really all-around athletes. Just a high IQ for the game."
Carroll had tried to temper expectations for Gordon in every public comment he made about the receiver leading up to Gordon's debut. What he said afterward had a slightly different tone.
"Give him another week's worth of work, and as much progress as he made this week, he'll make tremendous progress," Carroll said. "So I'm really anxious to see how he fits in with us."
Said Gordon: "I think going forward, we're going to be able to build that continuity, that relationship, that rhythm, and get into doing what we love to do -- and that's make plays."
Of course, a matchup against the Eagles should benefit all involved here -- including Hollister, Gordon, DK Metcalf
and, if he's healthy enough to play (as expected), Tyler Lockett
But ESPN's Mike Clay pointed out this week that the Philadelphia secondary hasn't been as bad in recent weeks.
Specifically, the Eagles have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to wide receivers this season, but the seventh fewest over the past month.
Beyond that, Jalen Mills is playing the best ball of his career and, in turn, Philadelphia has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to right perimeter receivers over the past month. The Eagles have also allowed the fewest fantasy points to the slot both on the season and over the past month.
That's the good.
The bad news is that Ronald Darby continues to struggle opposite Mills, having been targeted on 27 percent of his coverage snaps and allowing 0.51 fantasy points per route. Clay went on to note that Metcalf aligns across from Darby's position 59 percent of the time, so he gets the biggest boost this week.
Worth noting, Metcalf played 71 of a possible 73 snaps in Week 10 and seems unlikely to lose much (if any) work to Gordon, who played 27 snaps in his Seattle debut.
Clay believes the rookie is a strong bet for his sixth top-35 fantasy week in his past seven games this weekend.
Whatever the case, ESPN's Al Zeidenfeld believes Russell Wilson
's well-chronicled TD efficiency, mixed with Seattle's repeated trips to the red zone (they rank second in the league
to New England) gives us a solid value with enough TD equity to be extremely appealing for all his weapons, including Gordon.