Huard: For hype to be warranted, Seahawks DBs must take the ball away
In just a few weeks, the thoughts surrounding the Seahawks’ defense, specifically the secondary, has taken a dramatic turn in the positive direction as the team not only acquired All-Pro safety Jamal Adams from the New York Jets, but now Seattle may in fact have cornerback Quinton Dunbar on the field as well after he was not charged with armed robbery and was removed from the NFL’s Commissioner’s Exempt List this weekend.
Adams and Dunbar join Pro Bowl cornerback Shaquill Griffin and Pro Bowl alternate safety Quandre Diggs on the back end of Seattle’s defense, giving the team arguably its best secondary since the heralded Legion of Boom days with cornerback Richard Sherman and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor.
After a poor 2019 showing by the defense, expectations for the defense are going up, especially with the secondary. Can the hype that this secondary is creating be warranted? Former NFL quarterback Brock Huard believes so.
“I think they may have the best safety tandem in the league now and have a little bit of depth with (Marquise) Blair and (Ugo) Amadi,” he said on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant Monday morning.
But in order for the secondary to be as good as seemingly advertised, Huard said it comes down to one thing: taking the ball away.
During the Legion of Boom days, Sherman recorded 32 interceptions. Thomas had 28 with the Seahawks.
“Shaquill Griffin, Quinton Dunbar, Diggs and Adams, those four combined in their career, how many interceptions?” Huard asked. “… This is where Dunbar is the key. He has nine himself (since entering the league in 2015). Diggs has got nine (since entering the NFL in 2015) … Jamal has got two and Shaquill has got three (both entered the NFL in 2017). So 23 combined from those four.”
Last season, the Seahawks defense struggled in almost every facet of the game, but turnovers allowed them to be successful. But aside from Diggs’ three interceptions in just five games, the Seahaws’ secondary recorded just six interceptions. Three were by cornerback Tre Flowers, whose starting job is expected to go to Dunbar, and safeties Bradley McDougald and Tedric Thompson had three combined.
“That’s going to be the key in this system. You’ve got to take the ball away,” Huard said. “That is where the LOB was different. That is where their Super Bowl run with 39 takeaways is just different. Earl is in the 30s in his career with interceptions, Richard is at 35 in his career in interceptions. Those guys took the ball away.”
Getting Dunbar on the field could be key for Seattle recording more interceptions as he has some traits that are similar to Sherman.
“Dunbar’s got a little bit of a knack for that,” Huard said. “He’s able to play with his eyes up, he’s got a feel as a former receiver like Richard did of what routes look like and when routes break down and to go up and high point and take the ball away.”
In 11 games in 2019, Dunbar recorded four interceptions. That’s something that Griffin in his first three NFL seasons has struggled to do.
“Is Shaquill taking that next step in his career? Because three interceptions and averaging one a year is not going to get you $15 million a year as just a lockdown, marquee corner in this league,” Huard said. “That is the next big step for them to pay off some of this hype, but the safety tandem is certainly to be envied and is one of the best in the league.”
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