In Jimmy Graham's first 31 games with the Seattle Seahawks he earned eight total touchdowns. In his last five games, the big-bodied tight end has six TDs, including two in last week's win over Arizona.
"We've been harping on perfecting that pass in the red zone," receiver Doug Baldwin said of Graham's TD explosion, via ESPN.com. "It's got to be easy for us. Russ has got to make the throw, Jimmy's got to make the catch. That should be automatic for us. It's been working out pretty well."
Over the last five games, Russell Wilson's rapport with Graham has increased, and not just in the red zone. Wilson has a 121.9 passer rating targeting the tight end in the past five games, compared to 39.4 in the first four games this season.
At 6-foot-7, Graham is a matchup nightmare near the goal line. He can outjump smaller DBs and is too quick on cuts for linebackers. Graham's 51 career red zone touchdowns are second only to Rob Gronkowski's 52 since they both entered the league in 2010, per ESPN Stats & Information.
Graham scored 51 total touchdowns in five seasons with New Orleans, including at least nine his final four years. Things haven't gone as easy in Seattle, but perhaps the past five games are an indication Wilson and Graham have finally started to click.
"I know everyone's been wanting to see that and we're seeing that," coach Pete Carroll said. "Jimmy is doing a great job and Russell is doing a great job with it. He's just that kind of player. You know it's coming and you can get it anyway. Pretty extraordinary."
Added Carroll: "I'm really pleased about it because it's what we all hoped would happen and we would get it done. It's taken a little time to find the real rhythm of it, but at the halfway point, we're just trying to utilize him for his strengths and hope that we can continue to have some success down there. He's doing a great job and Russell, you can see them working together. It's really obvious and hopefully we can keep making it tough on our opponents."
With the Seahawks ground game stuck like Artax in the Swamp of Sadness, Seattle has become a pass-first team. Unable to pick up yards near the goal line has necessitated more targets to Graham. After struggling to hang on to the ball, the tight end is finally cashing in on the opportunities.