The 2018 Seahawks Secondary Might Be the Legion of … Doom?
Aug 18, 2018; Carson, CA, USA; Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll reacts during a preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers at StubHub Center. The Chargers defeated the Seahawks 24-14. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
- Since 2014, the Seahawks have ranked among the league’s top-six defenses in PPR points allowed to quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends.
- However, with stalwarts Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas either gone or holding out, they're likely to continue to regress defensively.
- I'll take a look at what those absences mean for the 2018 unit and whether the new, younger talent can bridge the gaps.
The Seahawks defense emerged as one of the most dominant units the league had ever seen during the past six years. Their ‘Legion of Boom’ secondary regularly caused problems for any and every passing attack, as well as for any fantasy investors who dared to test potential future Hall of Famers Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
Per our NFL Trends tool, the Seahawks have ranked among the league’s top-six defenses in average Plus/Minus allowed to quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers and tight ends since 2014. (Be sure to monitor our Ownership Dashboard throughout the season to see if the public continues to fade offenses facing Seattle, and check out our Contests Dashboard to analyze how some of the industry’s best DFS players view the situation.)
2017’s “below-average” performance was undoubtedly influenced by the team’s aforementioned secondary stalwarts missing a combined 16 games due to injury. The resulting 9-7 season marked the first time since 2011 that the Seahawks didn’t win at least 10 games.
Head coach Pete Carroll and company have proceeded to essentially start from scratch with the exception of all-world quarterback Russell Wilson. Offensive and defensive coordinators Darrell Bevell and Kris Richard have been replaced by Brian Schottenheimer and Ken Norton, respectively, while the secondary is poised to feature an alarming number of new faces …
Seahawks secondary Week 1 2017 …
LCB Richard Sherman
RCB Shaquill Griffin
FS Earl Thomas
SS Kam Chancellor
Projected secondary Week 1 2018 …
LCB Shaquill Griffin
RCB Dontae Johnson
FS Tedric Thompson
SS Bradley McDougald
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) September 4, 2018
When healthy, each of the Seahawks’ longtime starters offered a unique skill set that could be missed dearly this season.
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The left side of the Seahawks defense was a problem for opposing wide receivers for the majority of Sherman’s tenure. Still, the new 49ers cornerback didn’t make a habit of traveling across the field with opposing No. 1 wide receivers. As a result, this allowed opponents to escape Sherman’s shadow with relative ease, and the Seahawks have ranked just 16th in Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) against No. 1 wide receivers over the past two seasons.
The now-retired strong safety possessed the physicality to regularly hold down the B-gap and the athleticism to carry tight ends all over the field. Chancellor’s absence might be more of an issue for the team’s rush defense, as the Seahawks have allowed an additional 35.6 rushing yards per game in 11 contests without him since 2016. The four-time Pro Bowler’s reputation as one of the league’s most-feared enforcers in the middle of the field will also be missed.
Thomas has still not reported to the Seahawks and appears ready to continue his holdout into the regular season. The team has played only seven games without Thomas since Carroll took over in 2010, and the league’s premier free safety is one of just six players to rack up at least 25 interceptions since. The three-time first-team All-Pro is the backbone of the defense, as demonstrated by the Seahawks allowing just 198 passing yards per game after losing both Sherman and Chancellor for the final seven games of the 2017 season.
Water covers two-thirds of the earth, Earl Thomas covers the rest pic.twitter.com/5PCRTJ0T7I
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) May 21, 2018
Of course, replacing older veterans with younger talent isn’t always a bad idea. The problem is that the Seahawks’ new-look secondary isn’t exactly oozing with highly-touted players.
- PFF graded Shaquill Griffin as the 65th-best cover corner out of 85 full-time defensive backs in 2017.
- Ex-49er Dontae Johnson finished tied for 83rd.
- Tedric Thompson was a 2017 fourth-round pick and didn’t record a tackle in nine games.
- Bradley McDougald is on his third team since 2013 but did rank 13th out of 67 safeties in coverage last season (PFF).
- Slot corner Justin Coleman is the best of the bunch and ranked 11th in coverage among 28 full-time slot corners (PFF).
Case Keenum and the Broncos will get the first crack at the Seahawks’ revamped secondary. The matchup currently has a pedestrian 42.5-point over/under, but both teams sport defenses that might be a shell of the units we’ve grown to expect.
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