Seahawks wide receiver Jermaine Kearse had an awful 2016. Will he regain a role in the offense and rebound this season?
The Seahawks had a strange year on offense in 2016. Quarterback Russell Wilson set a new franchise record for passing yards, yet his touchdown totals dipped dramatically from his torrid 2015. Head coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell never found a permanent answer at running back with Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise battling injuries. Christine Michael led the team in rushing yards despite playing six games for Green Bay. The lack of healthy, effective runners showed most tellingly in the Seahawks’ mediocre 47.62% red zone touchdown scoring rate.
Another oddity was the drop-off of Jermaine Kearse. The former Washington Husky, Lakewood native, and undrafted free agent made a few of the most memorable catches in recent Seahawks history, including the overtime 35-yard bomb to send the Seahawks to their second Super Bowl in as many years during the 2014 playoffs.
Kearse has been around Wilson almost as long as Baldwin has, so it’s puzzling that he would suddenly fall off after four full seasons of catching passes from Wilson.
Pro Football Focus rated Kearse as one of the worst receivers in the NFL who saw significant action last season, and the numbers indeed show an ugly 2016.
Kearse’s 2015 line: 49 catches, 68 targets, 685 yards, 14.0 yards per catch (YPC), 5 touchdowns
Kearse in 2016: 41 catches, 89 targets, 510 yards, 12.4 YPC, 1 touchdown
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That’s bad. With the Seahawks drafting Amarah Darboh in the third round of the NFL Draft this April, Kearse may have trouble making the team at all, let alone regaining his starting WR2 position.
Kearse will have to tighten up his routes and find his hands again in Training Camp, where Bevell, Carroll, and company will have a close eye on him. Kearse may have caught a slight break (too soon?) with Lockett recovering from his gruesome leg injury he sustained late last season, but no matter who appears ahead of him on the depth chart right now, Kearse must prove his inability to create separation from defenders is behind him.
With a solid Training Camp, Kearse could be on the way to showing the Seahawks leaders that 2016 was a mirage. If he can’t prove himself, he could be the odd man out of the Seahawks receiving corps.