T.O. versus Team Oriented
They celebrate together. The Seahawks' wide receivers call it the Jump and Bump. It's just their version of a move many teams now use to...
Seattle Times staff columnist
They celebrate together. The Seahawks' wide receivers call it the Jump and Bump. It's just their version of a move many teams now use to express delight.
Run, leap, turn sideways and tap shoulders with a teammate. Consider it a twist on the chest bump.
"I guess it's a new-millennium high-five," Nate Burleson said. "You've got to run and get enough momentum to jump and finish with a shoulder bump. We can be 30 yards away, give a look or a point and know we're going up top."
These receivers do it at least once per quarter. And it's not just a one-on-one routine, either. Often, all five of them get in on it. They're so T.O.
Spend a moment in appreciation before the hurricane hits. On Saturday, the Terrell Owens Cowboys (at least in No. 81's mind) visit for either a playoff game or a temper tantrum. It depends on how much pigskin Tony Romo feeds to the NFL's all-time leading narcissist.
Since counting cornerbacks takes so little time around here, count some blessings. Using Owens as contrast helps illuminate how wonderfully the Seahawks handled a receiver glut this season.
When Seattle traded a first-round pick to New England for Deion Branch, then sprinkled a $37 million contract on top, the dissension police went on patrol. This couldn't work, some thought. The Seahawks already had two quality starters in Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram. They had just signed Burleson. They possessed a talented No. 4 option in D.J. Hackett. Why be greedy and risk bickering?
Though it was a reasonable concern, the players laughed. This was a character check.
"I wasn't offended," Burleson said of thoughts these receivers couldn't coexist. "It's a legit question when you're talking about pro athletes, dollar signs, playing time and statistics. Sometimes, pride and ego get in the way. But I knew the quality of people we have.
"I knew there wouldn't be any hating. You can see it's true by how the other guys react after somebody makes a big play."
Jump and Bump.
Branch laughed when asked about the celebration. The receivers do their thing, but they also like for the peppy Branch to dance alone. They make him, Branch says, which has led to some comical moments. Like when Branch scored against Oakland and broke out a little boogie called "The Motorcycle," in which you pretend you're fiddling with handlebars on a bike. He didn't exactly look like Yung Joc, the rapper who helped popularize the dance.
"Why does everybody else just get to bump and I've got to dance, too?" Branch asked, laughing.
Not all receiving units are created equal. For every Owens, there is a Branch, a big-name acquisition who understands the concept of blending in.
The Seahawks were able to live with five talented wideouts because the team genuinely welcomed Branch. Then Branch responded by being as professional and hard-working as advertised. It allowed Jackson, the most gifted of the receiving corps, not to feel threatened.
When it came time to use all the players, several factors helped them coexist. Most important, Jackson stood out, which stabilized the group and helped define roles. Before a toe injury, Jackson was on pace for his finest season since catching 87 passes in 2004.
Engram's thyroid condition played a role, too. While the team suffered for nine games without the steadying presence of their most dependable receiver, the illness also paved the way for the emergence of Hackett, who currently stands at the Seahawks' best receiver. His improvement was even more vital because Burleson struggled early in the season.
So the Seahawks wound up needing so much depth at receiver. With Jackson (toe) and Hackett (hip flexor) listed as questionable for Saturday, they must again lean on depth.
"That is still a strength on our team," coach Mike Holmgren said of his receivers.
Because of their own injuries and offensive-line woes and quarterback Matt Hasselbeck's knee problem, this was not an amazing year for the receivers. The five players accounted for 203 catches, 2,773 yards and 21 touchdowns.
But measure their impact against the Cowboys' group. Dallas ranked fifth in the NFL in passing yards this season, while Seattle lagged behind in 19th place. But the production from the Seahawks' receiving quintet looks good when measured against the production of the Cowboys' receivers (196 catches, 2,818 yards and 23 touchdowns).
The Cowboys use the classic approach. They have two 1,000-yard receivers — Owens and Terry Glenn — and fill in the blanks with Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd.
But Owens' ego caused so many headaches you must wonder whether the Seahawks have a better situation. What the Seahawks lack in dynamo they make up for in dependability.
And they've so enjoyed sharing custody of their success. Offensive lineman Tom Ashworth gazed across the locker room to make that point.
"Look at them; they're a lot of fun," Ashworth said, staring at Branch and Burleson chuckling. "They're always having a great time together."
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|Spreading the wealth|
|Production among Seattle's five wide receivers is spread much more evenly than in Dallas, where Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn account for 79 percent of Cowboys wide receiver's catches and receiving yards and 83 percent of their touchdowns:|
About Jerry Brewer
Jerry Brewer offers a unique perspective on the world of sports.
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