Huard: CB D.J. Reed shows how Seahawks HC Pete Carroll evolved in 2020
The Seahawks’ defense had quite the rollercoaster season in 2020.
After starting the year on pace to allow the most yards and passing yards in a single season in NFL history, Seattle’s defense turned things around in a big way and over the last half of 2020, that unit was one of the best in the NFL.
A lot of things occurred during that span to help the Seahawks’ defense turn things around, such as a revived pass rush thanks to a trade for Carlos Dunlap, rookie linebacker Jordyn Brooks flashing more, star safety Jamal Adams being healthier, but one key was the emergence of cornerback D.J. Reed.
Reed, a 2018 fifth-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers, was waived last offseason due to a pectoral injury as the 49ers didn’t think he’d be able to play in 2020. The Seahawks promptly claimed him off waivers, stashed him on the physically unable to perform list, and after sitting out the first six games of the season, Reed made his debut against his old team at nickel cornerback and picked off a pass on the first drive of the game.
That game would set the tone for the rest of Reed’s season, which was a surprisingly good one given what the expectations were for him going into the year. Reed appeared in 10 games and wound up starting eight games at outside corner in 2020. During those 10 games, Reed had two interceptions, seven pass deflections, recovered two fumbles, 62 tackles and two tackles for loss.
And aside from the impressive numbers, former NFL quarterback Brock Huard thinks that Reed made an impact by changing the way head coach Pete Carroll views the outside cornerback position as Reed is much smaller than the prototypical outside cornerback that Carroll has preferred.
“It’s a principle of his and has been the entirety of his career here,” Huard said of Carroll’s views of the outside cornerback position on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant Monday morning. “And after five years of just failed experiments, I think they finally said, and quite honestly I think the scouting department finally convinced (Carroll), ‘This guy can play. And he’s 5-foot-9, with 31-inch arms, and he can play outside, Pete.'”
It’s not exactly a secret what Carroll has liked from his outside cornerbacks when it comes to body type. While Reed is 5-foot-9 with 31-inch arms, cornerbacks under Carroll have been at least 6-feet tall with 32-inch arms. The problem of late has been that while Carroll has gotten players who meet those requirements, the play at that position has dropped off in recent years.
“After all the failed guys on the perimeter, to finally let little D.J. Reed with his 31-inch arms at 5-foot-9 play outside – not at nickel, but outside – and play phenomenally well, I hope that opens (Carroll’s) eyes a little bit to how hard it is to cover in this league,” Huard said.
Huard said that given how the NFL’s rules give a clear advantage to offenses, sometimes a player with Reed’s makeup is needed when it comes to covering wide receivers.
“At times a hyper-quick, hyper-active, hyper-competitive guy can overcome (being) 5-foot-9 (with) 31-inch arms, and I hope this isn’t the last corner of that size to be outside and play,” he said.
Huard said that Carroll’s view of outside cornerbacks may have been influenced by the success of former Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman, who was a tall and long outside corner for Seattle from 2011 to 2017. But given what Reed can do while playing in the confines of the NFL’s current rules system, Huard wants to see more going forward.
“I think D.J. showed us in this second half of this year that being able to knock the ball away, being able to be right in the hip pocket of the receiver so a QB can’t throw to him is not a bad alternative,” Huard said.
Listen to the second hour of Monday’s Danny and Gallant at this link or in the player below.