Many Seahawks fans around Seattle have been extremely frustrated with Sidney Rice's inability to help the Seahawks thus far this season. While Rice is on pace for under 1,000 yards and only three touchdowns for the season, his lowest touchdown total of the year (besides his six-game 2010 season), he still is extremely valuable to the Seahawks.
Rice signed a five-year, $41 million contract this August. He was seen as a legitimate threat and weapon for the Seahawks' often subpar receiving corps. After seven games and only 449 yards, the South Carolina product hardly looks like the threat that Seattle fans hoped he would be. But rest easy, Seahawks fans, because Rice will be worth the wait. He will be worth all $41 million if the Seahawks can utilize him effectively.
The former Gamecock is not the problem, and Seahawks fans are merely using him as a multi-million dollar scapegoat if they consider him the problem. Rice thrives off of deep passes and jump balls. He is deadliest when he lines up against a single cornerback or safety, whom he often can size up.
Because the Seahawks have had such an ineffective offense, opposing teams can afford to put more than one defensive back on Rice, or a safety deep over the top of Rice while a cornerback plays man underneath. While this makes all of his routes more difficult, it especially hinders his ability to catch the long ball. This two-man technique most of all discourages quarterbacks from throwing Rice the ball. With a healthy Mike Williams on the opposite side of him, Rice would be more able to get open.
The main cause in Rice's inability to perform is that he has JV quarterbacks throwing him the ball. The Seahawks organization must invest in a quality quarterback to throw these receivers the ball. Some critics of Rice may say that he performed fine with Tarvaris Jackson throwing him the ball back in Minnesota.
What these same critics fail to mention is that Jackson had time in the pocket to throw Rice the ball. In Seattle, behind a young offensive line, Jackson has had to scramble and force quick passes instead of being able to find Rice on a long bomb every so often.
Finally, one of the most overlooked factors in Rice's poor play is that he has been in only seven games this season. Sure, he might not be performing, but he has only been in seven games this season, being thrown to by two different "starting" quarterbacks and often playing injured. Seven games into a season in which he has played for a different team, played injured and been thrown to by multiple quarterbacks, Rice is hard-pressed to produce like he has in the past.
Seahawks fans give Rice a chance. He is an athletic specimen who has proven he can be a good wide receiver in the NFL. He is a talent and is the best hope that the Seahawks have at a "star." Rice is the Seahawks' greatest offensive weapon—they simply need to learn how to play with him.