The Seattle Seahawks took care of business against the Green Bay Packers on the opening night of the NFL season by a score of 36-16. Offensive explosion? Defensive dominance? Yes…and yes.
What was the key on defense? Many factors, but as usual, Richard Sherman was in the mix. Or was he?
This is where the cornerback is very difficult to specifically evaluate. Sherman had a grand total of zero tackles against the Packers. Of course, you are not going to get many tackles when Aaron Rodgers doesn’t throw the ball your way.
So, the debate continues. Were the Packers picking on Maxwell, or avoiding Sherman? You be the judge!
Packers coach Mike McCarthy says they were avoiding Sherman. One would expect that sort of response, because a coach or player is never going to admit that they fear a particular opponent.
Truthfully, it may be a little bit of both. Sherman is a better corner than Maxwell. Nelson is the best receiver on the team and Sherman is not following him around. What would you do?
Granted, this is why some people critique Sherman. While some DBs will line up against the best receiver on the team regardless of side, Pete Carroll keeps Sherman on one side. This is Seattle’s prerogative, and that system has worked.
Does that mean that Maxwell will continue to be targeted? Perhaps.
Maxwell did come up with a pick, but it wasn’t exactly a clean interception. The pass from Rodgers went off Nelson’s fingers and bounced into Maxwell’s waiting hands. A heads-up play by Maxwell, but that should have been a catch by Nelson and Maxwell didn’t exactly jump the route.
Lest we conclude that Aaron Rodgers was afraid to go downfield due to Maxwell and Sherman (six deep throws according to pro-football-reference.com), the Seahawks didn’t exactly air it out either (five deep balls). That is the nature of today’s NFL. Many teams are utilizing the short game, rather than hurl it into traffic.
But, that is a side note.
The real question is how teams will approach the Seahawks secondary in the coming weeks. If opponents continue to avoid one side, that will make it much easier for the safeties to make decisions on where to help.
We’ll know next week when the Seahawks travel down to San Diego to face the Chargers. To which side will Philip Rivers throw? Stay tuned to find out.