How Tyler Lockett took the Colts’ two-high coverage apart with an amazing catch

By Doug Farrar

There are times when you do everything right on defense — or, at least, you think you do — and you still get beaten. That happened to the Colts against the Seahawks’ newly exclusive offense in a 28-16 Seattle win on Sunday. With 1:26 left in the first quarter, the Colts sent a nickel blitz and thought they had Russell Wilson dead to rights. But Wilson eluded Indianapolis’ pressure and threw up a good pass to receiver Tyler Lockett, who made a truly amazing adjustment on the ball for a 23-yard touchdown.

“Amazing, just incredible stuff,” Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said after the game The one against the blitz, the throw, you’d be surprised how we practiced that throw and that catch and if you looked at pregame, you know we worked on that exact catch the ball coming in like that. It’s an amazing chemistry that they have.

The 69-year-old Carroll, who grew up in the Bay Area watching Willie Mays make impossible basket catches, certainly saw the resemblance.

“We talked about it on the sidelines, it was just like it was back in the day. I got the picture on my wall.”

Motion indicated man (Lockett moved from the left side to the right inside slot pre-snap), and the Colts were playing 2-Man here — man across with two deep safeties. Since nickel defender Kenny Moore was blitzing from the left defensive edge, there was nobody to carry Lockett in the slot up the chute. Lockett is one of the NFL’s savvier route runners and angular adjusters, and it was up to safety Khari Willis to deal with it. Seahawks offensive coordinator Shane Waldron did a nice job of displacing Julian Blackmon, the other deep safety, by having receiver David Moore run an out cut to the right side of the numbers.

You can really see this from the replay angle. You can also see Lockett weave Willis outside a step with leverage, then come back up the middle, and then, the move past the goalpost that Willis just couldn’t match.

“Just being able to go back to the play,” Lockett said of the key to this catch. “The nickel blitzed outside of me, so we knew the kind of pressure that was coming. I tried to be able to see who was going to be guarding me. Trying to get myself in position and then after that it was just trying to figure out where the throw was going to be at. Just the way that Russ threw the ball, I was able to adjust to it and luckily I was the only one that was able to, and the DB had no chance.”

Colts linebacker Darius Leonard knew the Seahawks were running stuff specifically to attack their two-high packages, and that played to Indianapolis’ tendencies — per Sports Info Solutions, the Colts played some sort of two-high coverage on 243 of their pass defense snaps, ninth-most in the league. Though defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus generally preferred to play zone in those instances — they had just 10 snaps of 2-Man in the 2020 season. Add a linebacker blitz to Moore’s slot blitz, and that left a cow pasture for Lockett to roam through.

‘It was just beaters,” Leonard said. “I mean, if you look at it, we’re in Cover 2. [In] Cover 2, the middle of the field is under attack. They had a great game plan. Kudos to them, but we have to watch the tape and understand that when you play Cover 2, you have to understand that you’re going to have the Cover 2 beaters in. We have to find a way to stop them.”

Last season, with a more muted passing game under Brian Schottenheimer, Wilson threw 12 touchdown passes against two-high coverage — only Patrick Mahomes and Ben Roethlisberger had more. And Wilson’s 94.9 passer rating against two-high coverage ranked eighth in the NFL.

So, if you’re going to try and blitz Wilson with a two-man shell up top, and Wilson is now rolling with Shane Waldron, you’d better get home. This is a new Seahawks passing game, and Russell Wilson is ready to exploit it for all it’s worth.


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