BROCK AND SALK

Carroll: Seahawks secondary being so versatile is ‘a real attribute’

Aug 15, 2023, 3:57 PM | Updated: 4:11 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)

The Seattle Seahawks were known for having an elite secondary in the heralded “Legion of Boom” days, but there’s a case to be made that unit wasn’t as deep as the one the Hawks have entering 2023.

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The Seahawks suddenly have an embarrassment of riches in the secondary as they return Pro Bowl cornerback Riq Woolen and Pro Bowl safety Quandre Diggs along with 2022 starting cornerback Michael Jackson, 2022 starting nickel corner Coby Bryant and safety Jamal Adams, a multi-time All-Pro who missed most of last year with an injury. They’ve also got 2021 fourth-round cornerback Tre Brown back and healthy.

Additionally, the Seahawks drafted cornerback Devon Witherspoon at No. 5 overall and signed veteran safety/defensive back Julian Love in free agency.

What makes that group extra unique is the versatility, which was a big topic of discussion during head coach Pete Carroll’s Tuesday interview with Seattle Sports’ Brock and Salk.

“By far. It’s not even close,” Carroll said when asked whether this was the most versatile secondary he’s had in Seattle.

And that versatility really is across the board.

“You go back and Diggs was was a nickel, too, back in the day in Detroit. That play, the challenges of that position carry over to his play now covering receivers (at free safety),” Carroll said. “Julian, he’s just a Swiss Army Knife. He’s done everything. And he’s so comfortable and so natural, and such a great communicator, too. He helps guys play better around him. And Coby is really the illustration of it right now.”

Bryant, a fourth-round pick last year, was Seattle’s go-to nickel corner in 2022 after playing outside corner in college. This year, he’s mixed in at safety, which is where he played during the Seahawks’ preseason opener.

“Coby has really taken to playing safety. That’s a marvelous jump,” Carroll said of Bryant. “He’ll also be able to play corner for us when we need him to. To have all of those facets in our guys’ games really is (going to help us). I’m glad you noticed it because it’s going to be a real, real attribute.”

“We will have more flexibility, there’s no doubt about it,” Carroll later added. “And we won’t be reluctant to put say Julian Love on a slot guy or Julian Love on tight ends because he’s done that in his background and he’s very comfortable covering different styles of routes and concepts and things. So that does give us flexibility, hopefully. If we do it well and the guys take advantage of that, we’ll have a chance to really do some cool things. It’s really fun for me now. I have as much flexibility as I could ever have with our guys and moving them around and positioning. And when Jamal gets back in there, same thing. Jamal gives us a whole different variety of things that a safety can do that is really fun to coach and all that, so we’re already anticipating that.”

As for Witherspoon, despite being the fifth overall pick after playing outside in college, Witherspoon has seen a lot of work at nickel during practices this offseason. Carroll loves what he’s seen out of the rookie at that spot.

“I think Devon will be another one that you will see. Devon is going to be a really good nickel,” Carroll said. “He’s going to be really good because of his competitive matchups with inside receivers, of being able to play one-on-one with those guys on a really high level, that plus his blitzing and all, he’s going to be a really good player for us there. And he’ll play in the same fashion outside.”

So how is Witherspoon when it comes to playing outside cornerback?

“He’s really good. He’s just as challenging as you can get,” Carroll said. “He’s quick enough, fast enough, but it’s really the special instincts that he has. He feels things happening before a lot of the players.”

Carroll compared Witherspoon’s instincts to Woolen, a former college receiver who had six interceptions as a rookie.

“He has a different level of awareness that makes him in a better position more often,” Carroll said. “That’s why these guys are standout players. Fortunately, Julian, Diggs for sure, Coby Bryant, those guys all are very, very instinctive players. Hopefully that will give us an edge at times that will make us different.”

Listen to the full interview with Pete Carroll at this link or in the player near the top of this story, or watch the full interview with the link below.

Full Interview: Pete Carroll on Seattle Seahawks in 2023

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