What Return of Sidney Rice Means for Russell Wilson and Seattle Seahawks
According to the Associated Press via ESPN.com:
Coach Pete Carroll said Wednesday that Rice is ahead of schedule in his recovery from offseason surgery on both shoulders and will get a little bit of playing time against the Chiefs.
The Seahawks are a promising team with an abundance of receivers that allow any quarterback the luxury of spreading the field.
Golden Tate, Ben Obobmanu, Doug Baldwin, Terrell Owens and tight end Zach Miller all possess the ability to beat single coverage and accumulate yards after the catch. Well, Rice is no different as he proved during the 2009 season with the Minnesota Vikings.
There, Rice accounted for 1,312 yards on 83 receptions and scored eight touchdowns.
Since, though, Rice has appeared in only 15 games and totaled just 764 receiving yards the past two years. His first season in Seattle was disappointing, but that only leads to more motivation to produce in 2012.
The More The Merrier
For a young quarterback like Wilson, it's nice to have an array of targets available.
Baldwin was Seattle's top receiver in 2011 and has the ability to replicate that in 2012. Owens is the aged veteran who can still stretch defenses, and Tate has similar capabilities against single coverage.
Rice, however, just adds to the depth of talent residing in the Great Northwest.
In today's pass-happy NFL, you can't have too many receiving targets and Seattle is becoming just that. Take the New England Patriots: With guys like Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Herenandez, Brandon Lloyd and Deion Branch, Tom Brady can't go wrong.
Well, the same is growing for the Seahawks because they have a beastly running game courtesy of Marshawn Lynch. Even if defenses don't stack the box opponents attempting to double-team a receiver will simply lose in the trenches.
And considering how much potential Rice and Co. still possess, Seattle will see lots of favorable one-on-one matchups as well.
Overall Skill Set is the Best
Who is Seattle's best WR?
It is tough to believe—and with good reason after the past two years—but right now, Sidney Rice is the most complete receiver for the Seahawks.
His 6'4" frame bodes well inside the red zone and he's also only going to be 26 years old this season. Despite the shortcomings from 2010 and 2011, Rice still managed to average 15.7 yards per reception combined between the previous three seasons.
Any time a team has a receiver who can gain 1.5 first downs with each catch opens up the playbook to another level. Rice can act as a reliable possession target downfield, win jump balls and turn a quick slant into impressive yards after the catch.
The size also bodes well in stocking blocking downfield against smaller defensive backs. This obviously lets Lynch see more open field after the second level and space to bowl over any solo would-be tackler.
With the talent to draw the occasional double coverage, Rice's presence alone takes pressure off the rest of the receivers. Include Baldwin's underappreciated production from last season, and that's two young and dominant targets for Seattle on every down.
Help Wanted: Schedule is Brutal
For as much promise as the Seahawks defense possesses in 2012, Pete Carroll can't expect his unit to solely win games. Seattle has a rough campaign ahead against teams like the Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers and the entire NFC North outside the NFC West.
A healthy Rice creates much more balance and when needed, explosiveness to the offense.
The Seahawks have to have this potency because you know opponents like the Pats, Panthers, Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions are going to push a fast pace. So to assist its own defense, the Seahawks need the capability to keep up.
Doing so will allow their stronger defense to shut down later in games and pull off some upsets. Rice may be just one player and one player will never carry a team.
That said, Rice's potential impact makes Seattle's receiving corps a lot more threatening to every opposing defense.
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