BUMP AND STACY

Seahawks Takeaways: Checking in with 2nd-year CB Coby Bryant

Jul 16, 2023, 1:26 PM

Seattle Seahawks Coby Bryant...

Seattle Seahawks CB Coby Bryant reacts during a game against the Los Angeles Rams. (Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

One of the biggest questions as Seattle Seahawks training camp nears is about the defense. Specifically, how much can Seattle improve from a lowly showing in 2022 where it allowed the seventh-most yards in the NFL (6,149) and eighth-most points (23.6 per game)?

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Where the Seahawks can not only take a step forward but perhaps establish themselves as one of the best in the NFL in 2023 is the the secondary. Led by free safety Quandre Diggs, who made his third straight Pro Bowl in 2022, and cornerback Tariq Woolen, another 2022 Pro Bowler who was a standout rookie and tied for the league lead in interceptions, Seattle is building up impressive depth on the back end of its defense.

Take, for example, Coby Bryant.

Around this time last year, Bryant was one of the players creating buzz from what turned out to be a stellar Seahawks rookie class. The University of Cincinnati product was coming off winning the 2021 Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the best college defensive back in the country. He appeared in all 17 games in the regular season plus Seattle’s one playoff game, making two sacks, four passes defensed and a team-high four forced fumbles, which was only one off the league lead.

What does Bryant have in store for his second year with the Seahawks? He talked about that and much more Thursday when he joined Seattle Sports’ Bump and Stacy. Here are a few key takeaways from what he said.

What to expect in 2023

One underlying reason the Seahawks’ defense is expected to take a step forward in 2023 is that Seattle is entering its second full season with Clint Hurtt at defensive coordinator. What could look different this year?

“I can tell you we’re always going to be more aggressive, and that’s our style of play,” Bryant said. “Just statistically, we’re definitely gonna be better. That’s always a goal, especially for a head coach, defensive coordinator, even the position coaches, as well, is to become better than what you were the year before.”

What gives Bryant the impression that the step forward is coming?

“Just watching film from last year and just learning what we could do better versus what we did. And it’s like I keep saying, growing and learning,” he said. “We (in the secondary) take care of what we’re supposed to take care of, and then have the big guys (up front on defense) take care of what they’re supposed to take care of, just being together as one, that’s the biggest thing.”

When it comes to Bryant in particular, Bump and Stacy co-host and former Seahawks wide receiver Michael Bumpus pointed out that at 6 foot 1 and 193 pounds, Bryant is “sneaky big.” The 24-year-old corner explained how that plays into what he does on the field.

“Definitely, physicality has always been a part of my game. My dad always preached that from Day 1, just to be physical, you know? But I definitely always want to be physical but also be smart as well as far as taking care of my body, too. But like you said, I definitely don’t mind the physicality at all.”

More time on the field?

While Bryant was Seattle’s primary cornerback covering slot receivers in 2022, he played just four snaps on special teams as a rookie. He’s all for getting more opportunities in that phase of the game, however, and he said he’s told special teams coordinator Larry Izzo as much.

“I was out there on kickoffs probably at the beginning (of the season), even in preseason as well, too. I just told Coach Izzo, like, I would love to play more special teams just because I want to be on the field as much as possible,” Bryant said. “I want to be to a point where I don’t need to get taken off the field. That’s how much I love football. So I definitely told him I’ll contribute in any way possible that he needs me to contribute. I just want to win.”

Seattle Seahawks’ veteran impact

When Bryant was drafted by the Seahawks in April 2022, the team’s future at quarterback was very much up in the air. While we now know Geno Smith won the job for perhaps even years to come by putting together a Pro Bowl season, the way Smith interacted with Bryant after his selection by Seattle was befitting of the role he was about to move into.

“I remember when I got drafted last year, he actually texted me personally, just wished me (good luck), told me he’s proud of me and to come join the team and everything,” Bryant recalled. “Just to have a quarterback reach out to me and let it be him, as well, it just shows a lot about him and his character.”

That’s part of why when Bumpus asked if Smith has been more offseason compared to last year, Bryant said that hasn’t been the case.

“For me, I feel like it’s always always been there,” Bryant said.

As for on defense, there’s a new commanding voice Bryant will hear in 2023: Bobby Wagner, the legendary linebacker who returned to the Seahawks after one season away with the Los Angeles Rams.

“It’s definitely a blessing to have him come back. I’ve been watching him since I was a little kid,” Bryant said. “… It’s definitely fun just to have him back, have an opportunity to play with him. He’s a great leader, and most importantly he’s a great football player as well and a great person, too.”

“Hard Knocks” preview

One of the big storylines about Bryant after the Seahawks drafted him had to do with who he played alongside in college. That’s because the other outside cornerback in the Bearcats’ defense had received most of the attention going into the draft: Sauce Gardner, who was picked fourth overall by the Jets and eventually edged Woolen for the Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.

The Jets will be the subject of the upcoming season of HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” a documentary series that picks a different NFL team each year to follow during training camp. What will people learn about Sauce when they watch him on TV every week?

“He’s goofy, he’s hilarious. He keeps everyone laughing,” Bryant said. “I know that he’ll have a great year. It’ll be definitely fun to see him on TV. I’m always rooting for him no matter what.”

Would Bryant want “Hard Knocks” to choose the Seahawks for a subsequent season? His answer perhaps sheds some light on a reason Gardner was the bigger name at Cincinnati even though Bryant was the one who won the Jim Thorpe Award.

“For me personally, I wouldn’t want to be a part of it just because I like to work in silence,” he said. “For me a lot of times it can be a put-on when the cameras are out, you know? Doesn’t seem as genuine – that’s just my opinion. I feel like (as) a team, we love to just work in silence and just allow the work to be shown during the season.”

Listen to the full Bump and Stacy conversation with Seattle Seahawks cornerback Coby Bryant in the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

Huard: Can Seahawks’ rookies be better, deeper than in 2022?
Rost: Seahawks Q&A – How far can improved defense take them?
Bumpus: How 2023 will be different for Seahawks’ Geno, 49ers’ Purdy
Huard: The most likely breakout player for the Seahawks in 2023
Rost: What will it take for Seattle Seahawks’ Pete Carroll to win Coach of the Year?

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