Brandon Browner returns to Seahawks to find a Legion of Zoom
Aug 12, 2016, 10:58 AM | Updated: 3:31 pm
Brandon Browner feels at home reuniting with the Seahawks’ Legion of Boom. But he’s noticed one thing slightly different: a Legion of Zoom.
“Pete Carroll was telling us Tuesday that there are trackers on us, and the guys are running faster than the 2013 team,” Browner said. “The talent is here. You can see the talent among the defensive backs. Jeremy Lane was a young guy in 2013 and now he starts. You see a DeAndre Elliott (an undrafted free-agent cornerback) and he has the same skill set.”
There is a zoom to the game to Browner now that he’s returned to the Seahawks after two years away. Carroll has him at a new position. Instead of being an outside cornerback commissioned to jam a wide receiver in man coverage at the line of scrimmage, Browner is a hybrid defender – part safety, part linebacker, part slot cornerback.
So far he loves it, but like any change, things come at him fast. Instead of reacting and jamming a receiver, his new job is to read the movement of the tight end or receiver he’s covering to determine if he’s going to be a run or pass defender.
“Once I get that down, I will be flying on all cylinders,” Browner said.
Browner was honest about the team’s expectations of him. He anticipates being a specialty defender who will be on the field 12 to 20 plays a game. That’s a perfect fit after the departure of Bruce Irvin, who played strong-side linebacker in pass-rushing downs and pass-rushing defensive end in the nickel. Browner is in the mix with Mike Morgan, Cassius Marsh and possibly Eric Pinkins to be either the third linebacker or nickel pass defender.
As it turns, Browner isn’t new at this hybrid game. In 2014, Bill Belichick occasionally used him in a less defined hybrid role with the Patriots.
“The Seahawks probably saw what I did in New England so it should be easier,” Browner said. “They matched me up on the tight end covering the Coby Fleeners or Jason Wittens. I’m dealing with guys not as quick-footed.”
Instead of being on a coverage island on the outside, Browner said he feels like he’s playing football because he can be more physical, which is his game. The Seahawks were victims of his physical style in their final offensive play of the Super Bowl loss to the Patriots. On fourth down from the Patriots’ 1, Browner lined up against Jermaine Kearse and it was Browner’s job to make sure Kearse didn’t win the block.
Browner expected a Marshawn Lynch run, but if it was a pass, it was Browner’s job to make sure Kearse didn’t move him in a position that would block cornerback Malcolm Butler from getting coverage on Ricardo Lockette in the slot. As everyone knows, Butler intercepted the pass and the Seahawks lost a chance to win back-to-back Super Bowls.
“Jermaine is like a little brother to me, but I can’t let my little brother beat me,” Browner said. “If you noticed, I didn’t even line up like a defensive back. I lined up in the attack mode like a receiver with one foot forward.”
Once the Saints released Browner in the offseason, Seahawk players went in the attack mode to get him back. Browner’s best friend, Richard Sherman, and others started texting and calling him. Sherman, in fact, told him the Seahawks were going to sign him.
Zooming ahead, Browner couldn’t be any happier returning to the Seahawks.
Want more John Clayton? Listen on-demand to his weekday and Saturday shows as well as his “Cold Hard Facts” and “Clayton’s Morning Drive” segments on 710 ESPN Seattle. Also, check out his all-new “Schooled” podcast and look for his columns twice a week on 710Sports.com.