The Seahawks kickoff the 2020 regular season on Sunday against the Falcons, a team they have faced six times since 2013, counting two playoff matchups.
As a result, the Falcons are a familiar team to the Seahawks and a familiar face will take the field against Seattle donning No. 11 in perennial All-Pro receiver Julio Jones. He has built a Hall of Fame resume during his nine-year career, including six seasons of at least 1,300 receiving yards, and ranks third among active players in receiving yards.
Jones broke into the league in 2011 with a solid rookie campaign, hauling in 54 catches for 959 yards and eight touchdowns. In year two, Jones established himself as one of the best receivers in the league with 79 catches, 1,198 yards, and 10 scores, earning his first of seven Pro Bowl selections.
Against Seattle, Jones has racked up over 600 yards in six games in his career. Seattle hasn't really had the ability to counter-punch with a receiver that matches Jones' skill set and overall talent during the Pete Carroll era.
Now, they may finally have one in rising star DK Metcalf.
At 6-foot-4, 229 pounds, Metcalf has a very similar stature to Jones, who checks in at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds. In a lot of ways, the former Ole Miss standout reminds people of a younger Jones. They both are freaks of nature athletically and each have a catch radius roughly the size of a taco truck.
Metcalf, just like Jones, impressed pundits in his inaugural season in the NFL, with 58 catches, 900 yards, and seven touchdowns, finishing within four catches and 60 yards of Jones's rookie year. The similarities do not stop there, as Metcalf's catch percentage (58.0) slightly edged Jones' rookie year mark (56.8).
Expectations for the 2019 second-round pick are as high as can be heading into year two in Seattle. This is due to his seven drops, leaving many yards on the field that otherwise would have counted towards his gaudy total, along with catching passes from the best quarterback in football in Russell Wilson. Plus, all signs point to him being more involved in Seattle's offense, including running routes from the slot.
Is the expectation of Metcalf reaching Jones' sophomore season numbers (1,198 yards, 10 TDs) realistic? Absolutely. He has the makeup and the reliable quarterback to make it happen.
This is not to say Metcalf should be expected to put together the same career as Jones, who has been one of the NFL's most feared pass catchers for an entire decade and has accumulated stats worthy of Canton.
But given Metcalf's physical tools along with his production in 2019, it's natural to think he can improve off of his rookie numbers. Speaking with the press last month, he knows which areas of his game can be shored up to reach new heights.
"I know I had a few drops last year that I got to clean up and just expand my role in the offense. Last year I was just getting my feet wet, just want to take the next step and take my game to the next level."
That next level would be a 1,000-plus yard, Pro Bowl-level season, much like Jones had in 2012. Starting in Atlanta this weekend, he'll have an excellent chance to begin pursuing that goal with Jones watching on the other sideline.