The Seattle Seahawks defense, particularly the Legion of Boom, has taken some losses over the years. Now it has exactly one of its original members left, Earl Thomas. Change has been a huge part of this offseason for the Seahawks, the defense and offense lost playmakers and familiar names. But, the cliff the secondary was supposed to fall off this year has been managed smoothly. Thomas leads Bradley McDougald, Shaquil Griffin, Justin Coleman and whoever out at the other outside corner. This looks like it is Tre Flowers’ spot to lose at this point. This group is eight in the league in pass yards allowed with about 215 yards given up a game through the air. So, how are they playing so well right now? And, what does this mean for Seattle?
Having an above average secondary is something Seattle is used to. They have had good teams on and off starting with the 1984 unit that reeled in 38 interceptions that year. I am not saying this team will be anywhere close to that prolific, I don’t think that number is attainable in the NFL anymore either. This group could lead the league in interceptions this year though. No team has had more than 24 picks since Seattle had 28 in 2013, and I think this year’s group could reel that many in this year. Between three guys this year the Seahawks already have seven interceptions in the first three games. And, in each game somebody has gotten at least two interceptions. McDougald started it off with two against Denver, then Griffin came in and snagged two against Chicago and now Thomas gets his two versus Dallas. I guess it is either Tre Flowers’ or Justin Coleman’s turn to get another two this Sunday.
There was an interesting graphic shown during the Chicago game, it showed the eleven starters on defense for Seattle in 2013, when they won the Super Bowl. Then it showed the players who are no longer on the team slowly turning to dust and blowing away, leaving just Thomas, Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. People view this defense as a shell of its former self when it would constantly lead the league in points allowed per game. You can hear it in the way commentators talk as well, they compare other teams to that Seahawks defense and just forget about the defense Seattle has right now. So, other teams are more willing to take chances and underestimate what Seattle can do this year. The uptick in chances should come with an uptick of turnovers and I believe this defense will be underestimated for much of the year. The pass defense does not need fixing at this point.
Thomas and McDougald are the two top rated coverage safeties in all of football this year according to Pro Football Focus. And Justin Coleman was the fifth best slot corner in the league last year according to PFF. If all three of these guys can continue to play this well the Seahawks will be in pretty good shape considering Griffin is also playing well this year. He doesn’t quite have the numbers as these three but his two picks and hard work in the run game is showing up beautifully.
The Seahawks have a plus three turnover differential thanks in large part to these defensive backs. That is a winning team’s turnover differential, so Seattle’s season should be looking up. The defense is good and will continue to improve as the younger guys gain chemistry with each other and get more comfortable. After starting the year 0-2 the Seahawks now have a win and some bright spots.