RENTON -- Will Dissly is proving to be anything but just a blocking tight end.
The former Washington Husky is making it clear that he's more than capable as a pass catcher and has become one of Russell Wilson's most trusted targets early in his second season in the NFL. Dissly was targeted by Wilson a team-high eight times on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. He recording seven catches for 57 yards and a touchdown. No other target received more than four looks from Wilson in Arizona.
“Will had a career-high seven catches and just continues to be a really, really dependable football player," head coach Pete Carroll said after Sunday's victory. "I love the way he’s playing. He and Russ are hooking up at crucial times, tough catches. He’s gotten hammered a few times on tackles and bounced right back up. He’s a tremendous Seahawk. He just does everything so beautifully. It’s great to have him.”
Dissly now has 19 catches for 181 yards and four touchdowns in four games this season for the Seahawks. He's caught a touchdown in five of his eight career games for the Seahawks dating back to last season. Dissly's six career touchdowns are the most touchdowns by an NFL tight end through eight career games since Heath Miller of the Pittsburgh Steelers scored six in his first seven career games in 2005. With seven receptions he set a career high for the second-consecutive week after he totaled six last week vs. the Saints.
Additionally, Dissly is the first tight end to have at least four touchdown catches in the first four weeks of the season since Rob Gronkowski had four for the New England Patriots in 2015. He's also just the fourth tight end since 1970 with six or more receiving touchdowns in the first eight games of a career.
"He's a special player," Wilson said on Tuesday. "I'm hoping he continues where he's heading because he's going to be a star tight end for a long time in this league and hopefully with the Seattle Seahawks for a long time."
Dissly wasn't thought of as a possible receiving threat when he was coming out of school last year. He had only recently made the transition from defensive line to tight end at Washington. He caught only 25 passes for 336 yards and three touchdowns in his two seasons as a tight end for the Huskies. The Seahawks knew they were getting an adept blocking tight end when they selected him in the fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Carroll called Dissly "the best blocker in the draft" that year.
However, Dissly's monster debut in Denver against the Broncos shifted the thoughts of everyone as to just what Dissly could be.
"Just the way he came out in that first game, he didn't play like a rookie, he didn't act like a rookie," offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. "He was so comfortable, he was so confident. You knew that he belonged. It was right away."
Dissly caught three passes for 105 yards and a touchdown in his Seahawks debut. A 66-yard bruising romp through the Denver defense served as the highlight of the afternoon. It also proved to Schottenheimer, Wilson and more that Dissly was capable of even more.
"I think last year starting off in training camp I really noticed how good Dissly really was," Wilson said. "And then we hit the regular season and we go to Denver and he goes off and I'm like 'man, this guy is really good.' After I watched the film I'm like 'man, he's like getting open, he's physical, he can catch.' Then we go to Chicago and he makes some great plays.
"He's a great teammate. He really wants to do anything to help his teammates, whether it's blocking, catching, doing anything he does. He's just got the right attitude about everything and I really love that about him. I really love working with him every day."
Dissly has 19 catches for 181 yards and four touchdowns in four games this season for Seattle. While it's a small sample size, Dissly is on pace for 76 receptions and 724 yards this season for Seattle. Only Jimmy Graham and John Carlson have even posted 50-catch seasons from the tight end position for the Seahawks. Graham's 65 catches in 2016 are the only 60-catch year at the position. They're also the only two to have at least 600 yards in a season. Graham's 923 yards in 2016 is the only season a tight end has had with more than 650 yards in franchise history.
"My focus is just doing my job," Dissly said. "You got to eliminate the distractions and just go out there and execute, you know. That's kind of my approach to the whole thing is just go out there and do my job. Russ trusts me and I think it's just we both have that same mentality of just studying throughout the week and being prepared on Sundays."
Only DK Metcalf has more targets from Wilson on throws into the end zone. However, Dissly is converting his targets for touchdowns while Metcalf has just one so far.
"He's always going to do the right thing. He's got great football instincts. It's so important to him. He's got great leadership qualities. He's a complete package. He really is," Schottenheimer said.
Photo Credit: GLENDALE, ARIZONA - SEPTEMBER 29: Will Dissly #88 of the Seattle Seahawks catches a first half touchdown from Russell Wilson #3 while being defended by Byron Murphy Jr #33 of the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on September 29, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)