1) What is the identity of the Seahawks now that many of the members from the Legion of Boom are gone?
Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Kam Chancellor, and Brandon Browner have all moved on to other teams or retirement. Byron Maxwell is on injured reserve and will not play this season. Safety Earl Thomas just returned from a contentious contract holdout. He posted on Instagram that he was coming back because he didn’t want to let his teammates down (or maybe it was the $1.5 million and counting he was forfeiting from his holdout).
The only other original member of this impressive defensive unit is linebacker Bobby Wagner, who led the team with 97 tackles in 2017. The former second-round pick in 2012 will lead a group of fresh new faces along with Thomas and fellow LB K.J. Wright. The Seahawks look to re-establish themselves as a disruptive defense built on speed and flying to the football.
But is this unit still good enough to be the Seahawks’ true identity? Does the success of the team rely on the success of the defense? You have to believe that the defense will still play the way defensive-minded head coach Pete Carroll wants. Carroll likes young, fast, aggressive defenders. The strength of the defensive unit usually hinges on the speed and quickness of the linebackers.
Carroll is a high energy coach and his teams usually take on his personality. This season, there will be adjustments and failures as the younger players learn the system and mature.
Second-year corner Shaquill Griffin had a terrific rookie year and will play left corner. The other corner would have been Maxwell. Now, the Seahawks will turn to former Niner Dontae Johnson, who had 76 tackles while playing all16 games with San Francisco last season. Seattle is still trying to recover from life after Richard Sherman, who has moved on to the 49ers. The outspoken Sherman was an integral part of the Legion of Boom and provided a great deal of swagger.
Ultimately, will the defense continue to provide the spark for this team or is it now a team that will be carried by quarterback Russell Wilson? There are still many questions about who will provide a consistent pass rush. The jury is still out on whether the Seahawks will stop the run effectively.
The defensive line could begin the season as a revolving door of players with spots still to be decided. Undrafted free agent Poona Ford has been a pleasant surprise in the middle. He is short (5’11), but stout and stood out against the run this preseason. The health of DE Dion Jordan is something to keep an eye on as well.
Overall, the defense has some new faces, but it does have a coach with the same aggressive, ball-hawking mentality. Look for Seattle to continue to play this way, particularly at home, which has been a difficult place to play for opponents in the Carroll era.