Friday, June 29, 2007

Seahawk Profile: D.J. "Clutch" Hackett

At the request of one of TPV's new readers -- stick around, Yolohawk! -- and because I really have nothing better to do at work, here's a profile of the new starting wide receiver for the Seattle Seahawks, D.J. "Clutch" Hackett.

First, an admission: I invented the "Clutch" nickname, and for now, I'm the only one who uses it. I came up with it because during Hackett's first two seasons, he was used largely as a third-down WR, and thus virtually every time he caught the ball it was for a huge third down conversion. And he's only got better last year. The Football Outsiders -- you know, the guys who I'm trying to get a job with -- use a statistic called DVOA, which is a metric that measures how good a play is in the context of what a team needs to stay on the field. For example, a ten yard running gain by Mack Strong on 3rd-and-22 doesn't Strong you a lot of DVOA points, since he probably only gained that yardage because the defense was preventing the deep pass. Make sense? Still with me? Ok, so here's Hackett's DVOA last year:


Yes, I know, that makes absolutely no sense to you unless you have some barometer of measurement. So here's some other DVOA's of leading WRs last season:

Reggie Wayne (1314 yards, 9 TDs) -- 35%

Chad Johnson (1375 yards, 7 TDs) -- 15.5%

Terrell Owens (1180 yards, 14 TDs) -- 12.2%

There are a number of reasons to get excited about Hackett this year. For one, last year was no fluke -- Hackett has consistently been one of the top players in terms of DVOA and another Football Outsiders' statistic, DPAR -- basically, a measure of how good someone is versus the average backup -- for every year he's been in the league. His catch percentage last year was 67%, which also put him in the top tier of wideouts, and confirms what everyone who watched the Seahawks already knew: he's got great hands. He's also tall, making him a juicy Jurevicious like target in the endzone. Finally, don't forget that the Hawks traded Darrell Jackson to the Niners, so the path is clear for Hackett to become a full-time starter.

So that's the good news. Now for the reality check. Because of the presence of Jackson and Deion Branch, two genuine threats, Hackett didn't have to line up against top corners last year. That will change for 2007. In addition, Marcus Pollard isn't scaring linebackers with his speed, so Hackett will see more jams and double coverage than he's used to. That could pose an additional problem: the one real knock on Hack is his durability, and sure enough, he missed time last year with injuries not long after he moved into the starting lineup.

But these are minor quibbles. I genuinely believe Hackett's in the position to breakout and become a fulltime star this year, join the upper echelon of NFL widereceivers, and -- hopefully -- lead the Hawks deep into the playoffs, where you can see me sitting in the upper deck wearing my "#18" jersey.


Blogger AJH said...

Good stuff on "Clutch". I fell in love with him last year. I hope you're right about him but, keep in mind, he was matched up against the other team's 3rd CB most of the time.
Also, your piece on the Hawks was very good and very funny. I hope it gets published. You didn't comment on the completely re-made defensive secondary, which I thought was your only oversight.
Go Hawks!

7:03 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Thanks for the kind words, Alex. This piece wouldn't be published -- instead, I'm trying to get a job writing for next year's prospectus.

10:02 AM  
Blogger John said...

Good luck Ben. It's great to be rewarded for something you feel passionate about... and you clearly invest yourself with gusto in the 'Hawks.

10:32 AM  
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