Was T.O.'s debut against the Denver Broncos everything you expected, or did his performance leave you yearning for more?
Many feel his time has passed as a serviceable NFL wide receiver, yet some aren't willing to give up hope, as they think one more 1,000-yard season wouldn't be out of the question. Honestly, it probably won't be one of the two extremes.
If he makes the roster, a logical estimation would be 52 catches for 650 yards and six touchdowns. The amount of depth the Seahawks have at wideout doesn't make Owens any better than the No. 5 guy on the depth chart right now.
Given the fact he has had a late jump on building continuity with starting quarterback Matt Flynn makes catching on that much tougher.
His empty stat sheet doesn't say anything about his performance other than that he didn't catch a pass. Let's break down just exactly what happened on all five of his targets from Flynn.
Target No. 1: 1st-and-10, First Quarter, 13:23 left
The Seahawks didn't waste any time, as they tried to get him involved on the very first offensive play of the game. Seattle is in 11 personnel (one back, one tight end), and it has Owens lined up on the strong side of the formation in a one-on-one situation with cornerback Drayton Florence.
Pre-snap, the Broncos are in press man coverage. Off the line, Florence does his best to get physical with Owens as he is trying to progress into his route. On this particular play it appears as if he is trying to run a 9-route.
Miscommunication appears to get the best of Owens and Flynn. As Flynn releases the ball, T.O. hasn't peeked his head around to even look for the pass. By the time he does look back for the ball, he has already overrun the target, so the ball goes sailing two yards behind him at about the 35-yard line.
Target No. 2: 1st-and-20, First Quarter, 6:11
Again, Seattle looks to target Owens on first down. The Seahawks are in 21 personnel (two backs, one tight end) this time around, and T.O. is lined up at left wide receiver with cornerback Chris Harris in press man coverage.
Just as they did on the first target, the Broncos try to knock Owens off his route with the jam, and again they succeed. When he finally gets into his route, he attempts to run a slant in between Harris and linebacker Joe Mays.
Spacing on the route seemed sufficient, as he had the cornerback beat and in the trail position, not to mention the linebacker was a good three yards in front of him, taking him out of the equation because of his inability to get a deep enough drop.
Still, the throw is behind him for the second consecutive time. Early showings of the lack of reps together are glaring through in a big way.
Target No. 3: 3rd-and-6, First Quarter, 5:20
It was obvious that the Seahawks wanted to work T.O. in on various personnel packages, as they tried to get him the ball out of these packages. On this play, they are in 10 personnel: four wide receivers and one running back. Owens is at the right wide receiver position for the first time in the game.
Apparently, the third time is a charm, because Flynn's throw is nowhere near Owens. Off his release, Champ Bailey gave him sideline position and very little room, which dictates one route: a go route. But it appears as if Flynn was expecting a hitch or comeback route. The mix-up resulted in a throw that landed five or six yards behind T.O.
For the third time in as many targets, the Broncos line up a different cornerback on him in coverage.
Target No. 4: 3rd-and-6, Second Quarter, 13:47
In a rare occurrence, it appeared as if Flynn and Owens were on the same page for the first time all night. The Seahawks offense is back in an 11 personnel set, but it uses a different variation than they used on the first target. T.O. is lined up at the right wide receiver position and is sent in motion for the first time.
Owens shows great separation on this play. He gets off the line quick, and the potential for a big play is there on the underneath drag route. Except Flynn's throw comes out late. If Flynn were to throw the ball at the 13:46 mark instead of the 13:45 mark, it would have definitely been a first-down catch.
Since the throw was late, that extra second allowed Champ Bailey to recover and knock the ball away for an incomplete pass.
Target No. 5: 1st-and-10, Second Quarter, 12:14
Undoubtedly, Owens has looked rusty more than polished up to this point, but his last target seemed to spell out his night. The offense had its 21 personnel package on the field: two wideouts, two running backs and one tight end. T.O. is matched up against Harris, whom he had beaten on a slant route earlier.
Flynn and Owens are looking to connect on a deep 10 route. Owens fakes as he is headed toward the middle of the field, and as soon as he gains inside position, he bolts for the end zone. Flynn sets the throw up with a beautiful play-action pass that lands right over the shoulder of Owens. But what happens when the ball lands in his hands? He drops it.
Here is another shot of the throw slipping right through T.O.'s mitts.
While the stat sheet read 0-0-0 at the end of the game, it's apparent that Owens still has what it takes to be an efficient wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks. Only more reps and studying of the playbook will help him get to where he needs to be.
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