COMMENTARY | Even at 5-1, there are still ways for the Seattle Seahawks to get better.
A 20-13 victory Week 6 over the Tennessee Titans that was sloppy, to say the least, could have gone differently if not for a decision by head coach Pete Carroll following the first quarter.
Carroll decided to break up the Legion of Boom and send cornerback Brandon Browner to the bench. While the Titans' No. 1 receiver Nate Washington was being completely neutralized by Richard Sherman, the smaller, speedier Kendall Wright was picking up huge chunks of yardage while working on Browner.
He was replaced by Walter Thurmond, who helped to quiet Wright for the most of the game. Wright finished with five catches for 69 yards, but only one came after halftime. His biggest contribution was a 32 yard catch, in which he beat Browner on the outside.
It was a similar situation to the prior game against the Indianapolis Colts, where Browner was part of the reason T.Y. Hilton burned the Seahawks for 140 yards on five catches. Browner wasn't responsible for Hilton's long touchdown catch - that was on Sherman - but he was beaten again on the outside by Hilton on a later 29 yard touchdown pass.
Both Hilton and Wright are small, quick receivers who can line up in the slot or the outside. Browner is 6' 4'' and 221 pounds, making him huge for a defensive back. Some teams can create a mismatch against him, and it showed the past two games.
Thurmond, meanwhile, is five inches shorter, but makes up for it in speed. He has a better ability to cover the quicker receivers the Seahawks will face, such as Wright.
Rather than just benching Browner in favor of Thurmond, the Seahawks should look matchup by matchup to see what would work best. With the amount of talent in the secondary, Seattle's defense has the luxury of being able to play to its strengths and switch players in and out as needed.
In Week 7's game against the Arizona Cardinals, Browner might be able to have more success. Sherman will be battling Larry Fitzgerald, while Browner will presumably be covering Michael Floyd. Floyd is a bigger receiver, so Browner should be able to use his physicality better than against Hilton or Wright. Browner certainly has the ability to deliver some huge hits, so just his presence alone on the field can make a difference.
The Seahawks have the deepest secondary in the NFL, which allows them to be so flexible with their matchups. Thurmond, along with fellow backups Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell certainly have a place on the team and can be effective in many different situations.
With an offense that has out up big yardage, particularly on the ground, but struggled to put points on the board inside the redzone, the Seahawks need the defense to play at an elite level. The offense sputtered for the majority of the game against Tennessee, while the defense dominated, aided by Thurmond. The Titans were unable to score an offensive touchdown against Seattle, as their only trip to the endzone came on a wacky botched field goal to close out the first half.
Most teams couldn't even imagine benching a player of Browner's caliber. It just speaks to the defensive depth that Carroll has at his disposal.
Nathaniel Reeves is a lifelong Seattle sports follower who is studying journalism at the University of Washington. He currently covers sports for The UW Daily.
- American Football
- Sports & Recreation
- Seattle Seahawks
- Brandon Browner
- Kendall Wright
- Tennessee Titans
- Pete Carroll
- Walter Thurmond