While a lot has been said about the Seattle Seahawks dynamic quarterback Russell Wilson and his offensive weapons, also a hot topic of conversation for this team is its secondary.
Last season, the team’s defense was impressive. It finished fourth for average yards allowed–the highest that a Seahawks defense has ever been ranked. Then there’s the league-low 245 points allowed–a team record for the 16-game regular with 224 of the points scored versus the defense.
And the same group was No. 2 in team to history with its Top 10 league rankings of average yards allowed rushing (10) and passing (sixth) along with total yards.
Assisting this team with the defensive numbers was its talented secondary and for this season, its four starters are returning. They added in the offseason, veteran defensive back and former Minnesota Viking Antoine Winfield. He is considered of the league’s top cornerbacks for slot coverage and run-support; he has three Pro Bowls in his 15-year career (last one in 2010).
So who exactly comprises the Seahawks secondary besides Winfield?
The starting four includes cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman along with the safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. These players have their share of league accolades with Sherman receiving an Associated Press All-Pro honor along with Pro Bowl nods. Sherman and Thomas received this in 2012 while Browner, Chancellor and Thomas took their turns in 2011.
Thomas has been huge contributor since the team selected him in 2010. In his 48 straight regular-season starts, he has averaged 75 tackles in his first three seasons. In 2012, Thomas had 49 tackles with three interceptions (one was a touchdown return). He also defended nine passes, forced one fumble while also recovering one.
Lucky for the team, Thomas is only 24.
Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said via Seahawks.com, “Earl is as good as any of the (safeties) I’ve ever coached. All those guys are different, and Earl is more like Troy [Polamalu] because of his extraordinary speed and his size and all that. But there’s no end to the potential that Earl has, because he’s so fast and he’s so tough. But more than that, he’s just so driven to be great. He’s just driven to be a great player and a great teammate.”
Thomas’ teammates aren’t too shabby either. His fellow safety and member of his draft class, Chancellor 25, had 91 tackles last season and on Saturday, he had 11 tackles in the first half.
Mouthy cornerback Sherman, who led the team with eight interceptions in 2012, also had 53 tackles, one sack, three forced fumbles and one recovered fumble.
Browner, who can stifle wide receivers but has faced PED problems, has been said to play like a linebacker. Last season, he had 35 tackles, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and three picks.
On Saturday against the Denver Broncos, Browner had a 106-yard fumble return for a touchdown (one of three turnovers by Seattle during the game’s first half) along with a forced fumble.
But wait, there’s more cornerback depth with the backup duo of Jeremy Lane and Walter Thurmond; they have the talent to step in and play in a starting role–when Thurmond stays healthy which doesn’t appear to be a problem for this season.
So far the secondary is off to a good start (see 40-10 rout over the Broncos). Should they stay healthy, they could be unstoppable.