The Legion of Boom terrorized offenses for a half-decade, helping to cement a Seattle championship. Richard Sherman was the lockdown corner, Kam Chancellor was the hard-hitting enforcer, and Earl Thomas was viewed as one of the top free safeties in the game. Unfortunately, the sun has set in Seattle, as the Seahawks have watched their once-dominant defense wither away. The San Francisco 49ers acquired Sherman before the 2018 season, Thomas is now a Baltimore Raven, and Chancellor’s career has since ended. While the Legion of Boom may be a thing of the past, a young defense spurns hope for a seemingly deflating franchise.
The new look Seattle defensive backfield is younger and full of promise. This starts with Shaquill Griffin, who has shown the ability to play in both man and zone serviceably. Griffin is 6’0 198 lbs, has decent speed, and excellent ball skills that make him a good fit in Seattle’s Cover 3 scheme. Griffin displayed those balls skills in week 2 against the Chicago Bears when he deflected three passes and intercepted another two. Despite these flashes, those were his only interceptions for the year, and his season didn’t necessarily go up from there. He struggled mightily last year and was subsequently ranked 111th out of 112 cornerbacks by Pro Football Focus. Griffin received a 50.7 grade, which is a significant drop off from his 77.2 grade of his rookie year. Griffin’s rookie year and inconsistent sophomore year flashes should keep Seattle fans excited about his ceiling and what he can bring to the table.
Tre Flowers is a tall, young, safety-turned-cornerback. Flowers, like Griffin, had a strong rookie season. He finished with 67 total tackles, six passes defended, three forced fumbles, and two recovered fumbles. Flowers had an ugly introduction to the NFL in his first career start against the Denver Broncos. Flowers mainly covered Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders went for 10 catches 135 yards and a touchdown on 11 targets against Flowers. A large part of those struggles was attributed to his quick transition to cornerback. Although he did have growing pains throughout the year, it is safe to say he developed quickly. He received a 64.7 grade from Pro Football Focus, showcasing his in-season improvements. With a couple of tweaks to his technique in man coverage and simply more experience at the cornerback position, Griffin could reach his high ceiling.
Nickel corner duties for this Seattle Seahawks defense will likely fall into the lap of Akeem King. King fits the tall, long mold that Seattle goes for, though Kalan Reed will make a push for the starting spot as well. This will be his first real opportunity to get legitimate snaps in the NFL, as Justin Coleman is now a member of the Detroit Lions. King has experience dating back to 2015, however limited it may be. He has an advantage heading into camp, but the depth chart is far from set in stone.
Rookie second-round draft pick Marquise Blair will try to replace Thomas at safety, with the help of Tedric Thompson. Blair showed some versatility while at Utah, though he is going to be seeing a majority of his snaps at free safety. While playing Washington, he lined up deep almost every play, similar to what will be expected of him. On the other hand, while playing Northern Illinois, he menaced the line of scrimmage for a large part of the game. His versatility is a trait that the Seattle Seahawks could utilize moving forward. Blair also has sufficient speed, clocking a 4.48 40-yard dash time at the combine in February. He will be a fun player for Seattle and could become a difference maker relatively quickly.
Bradley McDougald is the clear cut anchor to the “new” Seattle secondary. He has the experience, versatility, and talent to solidify himself as such. His versatility flashed as he has continuously played all around the secondary throughout his career. McDougald presented his ball skills against Denver in week one, where he intercepted two passes. In addition to having good ball skills, he is a solid tackler and can make an impact in the box against the run. McDougald is the lone player in the secondary with more checks than question marks.
Comparing the Seattle defenses
In short, the new look Seattle Seahawks don’t have the personnel to command a title such as the “Legion of Boom.” The back end of this defense has some fresh faces with big shoes to fill, and their development has been and will be critical to the performance of the defense as a whole. The corners possess the size and athleticism to wreak havoc against opposing teams’ passing games but have an apparent lack of polish. The transitions between levels of competition and positions pose massive questions to this unit. The overall versatility of the athletes here should grant Pete Carrol some level of creativity to find the best possible fits. While it may never live up to its predecessor, this group can still be a significant part of a quality pass defense.