They still have Russell Wilson at quarterback, a constant for four seasons now, but he’s lost several of the playmakers around him at times to injuries — including running backs Marshawn Lynch and Thomas Rawls and tight end Jimmy Graham.
The Seahawks have seen a different playmaker take his game to another level in recent weeks, wide receiver Doug Baldwin.
The 27-year-old Baldwin, in his fifth season after going undrafted out of Stanford, is having a career year and the bulk of his production has come during the win streak.
During the five games, Baldwin had 27 catches for 426 yards and 10 touchdowns. For the season, he now has 65 catches for 905 yards and 13 touchdowns.
“He’s gone off,” Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said. “And really from a receiving standpoint, he fits into a lot of the things that they ask him to do. There’s a good synergy between the quarterback and the receiver.
“If you’ve ever played the position, there has to be some type of a common knowledge going on outside of verbal communication you can see. They get it. They know where each other is. They trust each other a lot and he’s been at the point of attack on a lot of big plays here lately. He caught our attention quickly when we got back on film.”
Baldwin was the Seahawks’ leading receiver a year ago, with a career-high 66 receptions for 825 yards and three touchdowns.
Graham, who caught at least 85 passes in each of the previous four seasons, figured to be a central figure in the Seattle passing game. He ended up showing some flashes of his previous production before suffering a season-ending knee injury, but Baldwin has picked up the slack and reestablished himself as the go-to player in the passing attack.
“If you go back to his rookie season, he had the best numbers of any free agent rookie in history,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Baldwin. “He’s always been a big deal to us. The makeup of our offense, we don’t throw the ball to guys 100 times a year. It gets mixed around more. Now I think with what’s happened up front with the line coming together, we’re taking advantage of all these years together and the guys are playing at a real high level. He’s on the verge of having his best year.”
Wilson said he wasn’t surprised to see his teammate produce.
“Well, when you put the hard work in and you put the dedication in, you expect great things to happen,” Wilson said. “All the receivers, obviously including Doug — he’s one of the best leaders on our team and he leads that wide receiver group, him and Jermaine Kearse. They put the hard work in, the dedication in, so we expect great things to happen. They love the game. They’re passionate about it. They study a ton, so come game day, great things happen.”
The Rams will try their best on Sunday to make sure that doesn’t happen. Both of their starting cornerbacks, Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson, are having their best seasons so far, just in time to cash in this offseason as unrestricted free agents.
Shutting down, or at least slowing down, a wide receiver like Baldwin with the run he’s been on would be a nice addition to their resumes, but it won’t be easy.
“He’s very good,” Williams said. “He’s very competitive. You know what? They’ve done a good job up there. I know that staff pretty well. There’s several guys on that staff that I’ve coached with before. Not only in the pass game, but in the run game too. He’s one of those receivers that does it all. He’s grown up in special teams. He’s grown up as a tough guy. It’s good to see that he has started to get some of his credit that maybe have been long overdue. But I will tell you this, he’s done well for a long time. But here lately, he’s been at the point of attack.”