When discussing the strengths of the Seattle Seahawks, the secondary has to be towards the top of the list. This is undoubtedly one of the most loaded line-ups of defensive backs in the NFL. So loaded, in fact, that free-agent acquisition Antoine Winfield opted for retirement when it became clear that he would be cut in favor of 2010 draft pick Walter Thurmond.
In a defensive backfield that includes household names such as Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner and Earl Thomas, Thurmond is a relatively unproven name as the slot corner. However, he’s looked good in preseason and if he can keep up his high-level play, he should become another viable contributor. Thurmond has put together quite the preseason highlight reel, including a one-handed interception against the Raiders, a 46-yard punt return against the Chargers and a fumble recovery against the Packers. The fourth-year corner has always had big-time potential but has struggled with injuries. Now that he’s finally healthy, the Seahawks fans have yet another high-caliber weapon to use in shutting down opposing receivers. His punt-returning abilities add yet another intriguing element to his versatile skill-set. He’s set to share those duties this season with Golden Tate. Keep an eye on the University of Oregon product as the Seahawks season gets under way.
The decision to go with Thurmond over Winfield seems logical but is nonetheless interesting. Winfield is 36 and has been in the league for 14 seasons and has earned his reputation as one of the most solid corners in the NFL. However, it seems as though age has finally caught up with him. Winfield made his name as a member of the Minnesota Vikings where he was a three-time Pro Bowler. This marks another example of the Seahawks going in a more youthful direction. Popular fullback Michael Robinson, a former Pro Bowler himself, was cut in a move that some may find surprising. Tough as it may be, it makes sense when you consider that the Seahawks have promising young fullback Derrick Coleman ready to take over the starting spot.
The always entertaining Richard Sherman should be in full force as well as the season gets underway. Often lost in all his trash-talk and bravado is the fact that Sherman is one of the premier cover-corners in the game right now. Humility has never been his strong suit though. Sherman got into it on Twitter earlier this year with Bucs corner Darrelle Revis, essentially saying that he was already a better corner than Revis in only his 2nd season. This is, of course, a bold statement considering that Revis has widely been considered the best cornerback in football for the last few years. It’s definitely going to be interesting to see if Sherman can back up his words on the field. I, for one, honestly don’t mind the trash talk. Sports are, after all, entertainment and it’s never boring with Sherman. I know some purists probably don’t like it but if that’s what it takes to get the Sherminator going then so be it. Feel free to disagree with me on that, but either way we’ll see soon enough if the self-imposed hype is warranted. Sherman had 8 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, 64 tackles and a sack last season.
Rounding out the crew will be Browner, Thomas and Kam Chancellor, all of whom are proven, Pro Bowl caliber players. The loaded secondary is set to combine with what should also be a lethal pass rush up front, led by Chris Clemons, Bruce Irvin and free agent pick-up Cliff Avril. Clemons is coming off an ACL tear and won’t play when the season opens against the Panthers. However, his return at any point during the year should be a boost to what is a supremely talented all-around unit that finished in the top 10 in every major statistical defensive category last season. With the development of Russell Wilson and what should be reliable production from All-Pro running back Marshawn Lynch, Seahawks fans understandably have some sky high expectations. Whether all of this anticipation will pan out obviously remains to be seen. When does the season start again?