Seahawks secondary can be exposed

By Peter Bailey-Wells

When All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman was voted in as the cover athlete for Madden 15, he had a request for EA Sports.

Put his teammates on the cover.

The self-titled “Legion of Boom,” the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive backfield, is the best secondary in the NFL. They were a major part of the Seahawks’ Super Bowl run last season, and had Vegas odds-makers labeling the Seahawks as favorites to win it all again this season. Comics were even drawn comparing the Legion of Boom to DC Comics Legion of Doom.

But the last two weekends have shown that Seattle’s defense is beatable. The Legion of Boom can be dethroned from its spot atop the football world. You just have to have time on your side.

On Sunday, the Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos 26-20 in a Super Bowl rematch. Seattle drove 80 yards on its first possession in overtime and scored a touchdown to win the game. But the game should have never made it to overtime.

With just under a minute left in regulation, Peyton Manning drove the Broncos all the way down the field for a tying touchdown (and two-point conversion). Running a two-minute drill kept the Legion of Boom on its heels, and resulted in a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Tamme with 18 seconds left.

The Broncos lost the game, but their ability to drive down the field in the fourth quarter exposed some serious chinks in the Seahawks’ armor.

Two weeks ago, the Seahawks suffered a surprising 30-21 defeat at the hands of the San Diego Chargers, a team that went 9-7 last season. The Seahawks defense only allowed more than 30 points once last season. The Chargers had possession for more than double the amount of time the Seahawks did. Philip Rivers completed only one pass longer than 20 yards and completed 75 percent of his passes, meaning most were short throws that didn’t get into the heart of the Seattle secondary.

No Charger had more than seven catches and no Charger made it into triple digits in receiving yards, but Antonio Gates, Keenan Allen and Eddie Royal all racked up more than 50 receiving yards.

Gates had all three of the Chargers’ touchdowns, which brings up another point — have a good tight end. A strong tight end keeps safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas in the middle of the field rather than allowing them to peel off and help the corners on the sidelines.

The Chargers (and the Broncos in the fourth quarter) ran no-huddle against the Seahawks. This doesn’t mean they moved the ball quickly, but running no-huddle didn’t allow the Seattle defense to settle into its alignment. Keeping the defense on its heels, especially when playing the Seahawks at home, is important because time between plays not only allows the defense to get set up but also allows Seattle’s record-setting crowd to build into a crescendo.

Armchair quarterbacking is easy. Everyone does it. But there is an obvious pattern here. Get passive-aggressive against the Legion of Boom. Short passes, safe screens and draws all run in a no-huddle set keep the defense off-balance. If teams have a quarterback who is good at adjusting on-the-fly (Rivers, Manning, Brady, etc.), that’s even better.

In three of the four games Seattle has lost since the beginning of the 2013 season, the Seahawks opponent has won the time of possession battle. Controlling the pace of play has proven to be the Seahawk’s weakness. It isn’t definitive kryptonite for this Legion, but then again, Sherman and Co. aren’t superheroes.

Peter is a sophomore in Media. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @pbaileywells22.