There is no shortage of blame to go around for yet another early playoff exit for the Seahawks. But most of the blame falls on an offense that has struggled for months.
In fact, Seattle decided to place its own offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer, on the firing line as a result of the 30-20 loss to the Rams last weekend. But one of the more common tropes used by those attempting to find solutions to a stagnating offense was the lack of involvement of tight ends.
In theory, this makes a lot of sense. After all, no Seahawks tight end recorded more than 30 catches nor eclipsed 300 yards, and a common way associated with counteracting Cover 2 defense is the utilization of pass catching tight ends. But did Seattle actually underutilize a position group they paid more than $10 million for?
Individually, it would be hard to argue that they didn't. Four Seahawks tight ends caught passes in 2020. Their final numbers are quite pedestrian. Greg Olsen was targeted 37 times and caught 24 passes for 239 yards. Will Dissly was targeted 29 times, catching 24 passes for 251 yards. Jacob Hollister was targeted 40 times, reeling in 25 passes for 209 yards. Colby Parkinson was never targeted by Russell Wilson, but he reeled in both of his Geno Smith targets for 16 yards.
So nothing overly impressive. But if you combine the production of Seattle's "four-headed monster" at tight end, the actual numbers aren't as awful as they seem. Combined, Seahawks tight ends were targeted 108 times, caught 75 passes, gained 715 yards, and snagged six touchdowns. By themselves, these numbers may not mean much, but in the context of the rest of the NFL, they aren't bad.
If you combined all four Seahawks tight ends into one player, that player would have ranked sixth in targets per game, behind just Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, George Kittle, Logan Thomas, and Evan Engram. Their 75 catches would have ranked third behind just Waller and Kelce and their six touchdowns would have tied for ninth-most.
However, Seattle got just 9.5 yards per catch from their tight ends in 2020, which would have ranked 74th amongst tight ends. There were almost no explosive plays made by the quartet of Seahawks tight ends this season and they were largely ignored in the red zone. None of Seattle's tight ends finished inside the Top 20 of red zone targets at the position and Dissly, who has shown to be a strong weapon inside the 20s, got just four chances.
This left the team with a lot of bulk products from the position, but very little substance. In addition, only seven teams paid their tight ends more than the Seahawks, which has led to an obvious net loss for the product received. Both Olsen and Hollister are set to hit free agency, with the former likely headed to retirement after a Hall of Fame caliber career.
Seattle will need to add to its tight end room with only Dissly and Parkinson under contract for 2021, but they'll face some obstacles along the way. The organization lacks the cap space to address all their needs with fixes from outside the organization and has just four draft picks, which will make it difficult to add the help needed due to limited assets.
Hopefully, a fully healthy Dissly can make a difference and another year of growth from Parkinson, the soft-handed, 6-foot-7 weapon, will provide most of the answers next season. But while the focus in Seattle will likely be retention in the offseason, adding a tight end is a sneaky need that is likely to be overlooked.