Huard: Seahawks’ Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor have had to compensate
ESPN analyst and Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter sees multiple reasons for the perceived struggles this season of Seattle’s safety tandem of Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor. he pointed to their style of play and injuries and as contributing factors.
710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock Huard believes that while those elements have played a role, more than anything the struggles are coming from the lack of experience and talent around them.
“I don’t think Kam and Earl have forgotten how to play. I don’t think there’s a lack of motivation or a want-to,” he said. “I think they were so accustomed to not having to compensate for anyone.”
Even more so than the play of a quarterback, running back or wide receiver, it’s difficult to gauge the success of a secondary by stats alone. With that said, neither Chancellor nor Thomas are too far off their career averages. Chancellor is averaging 7.4 tackles per game (which is higher than the previous three seasons) while Thomas’ 4.8 tackles per game is his lowest output since 2012. In terms of impact plays, Chancellor has two interceptions, a forced fumble and three passes defended while Thomas has three picks, seven passes defended and one forced fumble.
“But they’ve also given up more than we would expect for those two guys in particular and I think that’s where a lot of these questions have come from,” Huard said. “From taking this defense from being very good, which they’ve been, to being elite, which they’ve been in the past.”
Seattle’s defense as a whole ranks ninth in the league against the pass, giving up 232 yards per game. It was second until allowing a franchise-record 480 Sunday against Pittsburgh. Seattle’s defense ranks 16th in yards allowed per attempt but is tied for best in passing touchdowns allowed.
Outside of Thomas, Chancellor and cornerback Richard Sherman, the Seahawks’ secondary has been shifting pieces over the past few seasons. Gone are Brandon Browner, Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond. Meanwhile, the Cary Williams experiment has been a failure and injuries have plagued Tharold Simon, Jeremy Lane and Marcus Burley.
Because of the inconsistencies around them, the whole system doesn’t hum in the same way, Huard said.
“Now there is just that slight little, ‘Yeah, I gotta compensate for that inexperience there, I got to compensate for that half-step here,’ ” Huard said. “And when you do that against elite quarterbacks, they can make you pay in this league.”
Co-host Mike Salk said Huard’s take might be true, but feels that Thomas’ shoulder injury – which kept him out for much of the offseason – and Chancellor’s holdout might also still be a source of some level of degeneration. Salk also speculated that some alleged in-fighting among Seattle’s defensive backs could have impacted their relationships.