Due to COVID-19, we haven’t gotten to know them the way we did their predecessors. For that reason, we’ll call them the Legion of Zoom.
But all of a sudden, this Seahawks secondary has blossomed into one of the more notable defensive forces in the NFL. It’s not LOB level yet, but it’s at least worthy of comparison.
Over the past six games, Seattle’s defense has given up an average of 13.7 points. Once the joke of the league, the “D” has started to resemble the bulwark of its Super Bowl years.
Part of this is due to a revitalized pass rush spawned by the addition of defensive end Carlos Dunlap. And linebackers Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright are still at the top of their games.
But with safeties Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs, and cornerbacks Shaquill Griffin and D.J. Reed, the Seahawks’ back end has become a nightmare for opposing offenses. And though there’s no Sports Illustrated cover pending, they still deserve some ink.
If one had to pick two defensive plays that defined Seattle’s 20-9 win over the Rams on Sunday, they would probably belong to the secondary. The first was Diggs’ interception of L.A. quarterback Jared Goff at Seattle’s 10-yard line in the second quarter. The second was Adams’ touchdown-saving tackle of running back Darrell Henderson at the 2 in the third quarter — which led to a turnover on downs four plays later.
After the game, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson praised the safeties, arguing that the duo is peerless in the league right now.
“I mean, I think we got the two best safeties in the game in Jamal and Diggs. Those two guys, they play lights out every week. They work their tails off. They’re focused. They’re smart as can be and detailed,” Wilson said. “Jamal makes a play every week. Diggs does, too. Those two guys are spectacular back there.”
Adams’ 9.5 sacks are the most by a defensive back in NFL history (and he missed four games due to injury). He was recently named to his third Pro Bowl. Diggs’ five interceptions are the fourth most in the league. He was recently named to his first Pro Bowl.
That pair has been instrumental to Seattle’s defensive turnaround. It has now been six weeks since the Seahawks last gave up 300 yards to an opposing quarterback.
There was a time when it looked as though Adams wasn’t worth the load Seattle general manager John Schneider gave up to get him. Starting safety Bradley McDougald, two first-round draft picks and a third-round pick for a guy who was out for a quarter of the season? But now it appears Seattle got the better of that offseason trade with the Jets. Seahawks coach Pete Carroll expressed as much after Sunday’s win.
“What a great acquisition that was, and I go back to John figured that thing out, somehow he got it done to orchestrate that. That’s a marvelous fix for our football season,” Carroll said. “He is a fantastic part of our team. He just is. He just has so much juice.”
But the defensive dynamism goes beyond the safeties. Griffin is a Pro Bowler who missed four weeks due to injury — including the game that the Seahawks gave up 44 points to the Bills in a loss. The past few weeks have been filled with him shaking his head “no” after breaking up pass play after play. And Reed has established himself as a legitimate cornerback in the absence of Quinton Dunbar and Tre Flowers, as he notably pestered Washington receiver Terry McLaurin two Sundays ago.
The result of all this has been an NFC West title for the 11-4 Seahawks, who appear to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender. And though their offense is seventh in the league in scoring (28.9 points per game), their defense has been what’s carried them over the past few weeks.
After Sunday’s win, Adams lit up a cigar in front of the media after shouting “Dammit, it feels good! It feels great!” in response to winning the division. He spent his first three seasons with the Jets, who never even sniffed the postseason.
Now he is part of a secondary that is beginning — key word “beginning” — to rival the great back ends of Seahawks past. If there is another cigar to be lit in February, that unit will be a key reason.