Seahawks coach Pete Carroll further explained how the team plans to use veteran Brandon Browner during an interview Monday on 710 ESPN Seattle.
Since the day the Seahawks re-signed Brandon Browner last month, the obvious question looming has been how the team will use him.
Coach Pete Carroll hinted at a more-specialized role for Browner when he talked to the media last month, saying “we’re going to do some different things with him you’ll see in the future, but we have a nice plan for it.’’
Monday when Carroll appeared on the Brock and Salk Show on ESPN 710 Seattle he gave his most specific details yet of what that plan will be for Browner, saying he will be used as a safety in base downs (meaning, first-and-10 or obvious running downs) and then used in specific matchups in passing downs.
Said Carroll: “We’re going to play him at safety in base downs and then in nickel we are going to use him to match up at different spots playing inside. So we may be able to develop a really unique role for him. We have seen him play, back to his New England days they used him quite a bit inside and he really matched up on tight ends and slot receivers and things like that that he matched up well, and we are going to see how that develops.’’
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Defending tight ends has been a particular issue for the Seahawks the last few years. But Browner, listed at 6-4, 220 pounds, obviously supplies a good mix of size and coverage ability to match up well against tight ends (and recall that the Seahawks have Carolina’s Greg Olsen and New England’s Rob Gronkoswki, to name two, on the schedule in 2016).
Carroll noted that the addition of Browner, as well as what some other players have shown, will allow the Seahawks to implement more gameplans where they develop specific matchups against opposing receivers than they have in the past.
“There is always some stuff we are developing and there are some good things we are going,’’ he said. “But you will see us be a little bit more matchup-oriented because of that, because of the guys that give us the chance to do that. We would always do it if we had the opportunity. That may mean there may be some more dime packages and things like that rather than nickel.’’
What the use of Browner as a safety in base downs would mean having five players defined as defensive backs on the field — Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and presumably Jeremy Lane as the other outside corner, plus Browner. In that scenario Browner would likely be taking the place of the strongside linebacker, a spot where the Seahawks have no set starter with the departure of Bruce Irvin in the off-season to the Raiders via free agency.
The Seahawks have the likes of veterans Mike Morgan and Cassius Marsh set to compete for that spot, and also signed some potentially intriguing undrafted free agents, notably Montese Overton, who drew consistent praise from Carroll throughout the rookie mini-camp. But the team has hinted for a while they will likely fill Irvin’s role with multiple players and this appears to be further confirmation of that.
And Carroll’s reference to playing more dime would appear to mean then adding another cornerback in passing situations — DeShawn Shead or whoever emerges as the third corner — pairing with Sherman and Lane as corners along with Chancellor, Thomas and Browner.
Carroll’s explanation of Browner’s role also makes clear he’s not really being brought in with the expectation that he’ll beat out Lane or whoever else for an everydown boundary cornerback role.
As Carroll also noted, though, this is the time of year for experimentation, with the veterans beginning the second phase of the off-season program. Lots can change between now and the beginning of the season.
But Brandon Browner’s second tenure with the Seahawks is shaping up to see him filling a vastly different and intriguing role than the first time around.