If you’re a Seahawks super fan, then your concerns are endless.
But if your fandom is slightly less rabid, and your concerns are slightly more practical, then you’re probably worried about the cornerbacks. At least after that first preseason game, you are.
Before we delve in, it’s important to note that the Seahawks’ back end is going to be held to an impossible standard. The days of Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner (and Byron Maxwell) lining up at CB with Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor playing safety made that so. There have been steady contributions from the likes of Shaquill Griffin and others at the cornerback spot in the past, but it’s been at least three years since we witnessed anything resembling the dominance of the Legion of Boom.
Having said that, there’s a difference between not meeting a legendary standard and simply struggling as a group. At one point last year, remember, the Seahawks were on pace to give up the most passing yards in NFL history. Much of this was due to the pass-rush failing to generate any kind of consistent quarterback pressure, but that doesn’t mean the Seahawks’ secondary was doing its part, either.
Fast forward to Saturday’s preseason game vs. the Raiders. The explosive plays? Not so much on the Seahawks’ side. Tre Flowers got beat on a 28-yard completion to Zay Jones on a third-and-eight. There was another third down on which he got burned, thus allowing the Raiders to again move the sticks.
Cornerback was really the only position Seahawks coach Pete Carroll seemed to criticize Saturday, saying, “We didn’t make any plays to stop the third-down attempts.” It’s hard to say whether this was an indictment on the CBs in general or really just Flowers. The fourth-year corner has had a particularly undulating experience throughout his NFL career.
He was drafted in the fifth round but earned his way into the starting lineup, partly thanks to injuries to Maxwell and Dontae Johnson. He did, however, play well enough to keep his starting spot, and eventually earned “Best Rookie” honors among the Seahawks’ end-of-the-year awards.
Wasn’t hard to see why. He had three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery, not to mention seven passes defended — two of which led to interceptions. But then a hamstring injury ended his 2019 season early and nipped him again at the end of last season. In a contract year, this might be his last chance to show he belongs in this league.
Saturday wasn’t a great start. As for the rest of the corners? Like the bulk of the Seahawks’ offense, it’s hard to make an honest assessment. Ahkello Witherspoon looked solid in his limited time on the field. Projected starter D.J. Reed was out because of an injury, while fellow cornerback Damarious Randall sat out, too.
Still, when you look at the rest of the defense, the CBs remain the biggest question mark. The defensive line improved drastically when Dunlap joined in the middle of last season, and turned into one of the most sack-happy units in the league. The linebacking corps — while without K.J. Wright — is led by future Hall of Famer Bobby Wagner, with former first-round draft pick Jordyn Brooks looking to make his mark.
Assuming Adams signs, there will be two Pro Bowlers at safety, with Quandre Diggs being the other. But then there are the cornerbacks, who are now absent the Pro Bowler Griffin, who signed with the Jaguars this offseason.
Again, it’s one week into the preseason. And it was a game in which one projected starting cornerback didn’t play. But there were big plays surrendered — surrendered in a fashion that made the Seahawks’ D look amateurish in the first half of last season.
The die-hards are going to panic no matter what. The more levelheaded fans are going to wait and see.
But in terms of the cornerbacks, they’re still waiting. Because they haven’t seen much.