The Seattle Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” blew up with Kam Chancellor’s neck injury and Richard Sherman’s exit. The Denver Broncos’ “No Fly Zone” was grounded by Aqib Talib’s trade and T.J. Ward’s departure.
Not so fast, insist the holdovers.
These two teams may not have the star power in their respective secondaries that they’ve boasted in years past, but they still have formidable, youth-infused defensive backfields expected to play leading roles in 2018.
When Talib was traded to the Rams in the spring, he suggested the “No Fly Zone” no longer existed.
Nonsense, retorted cornerback Chris Harris Jr.
“I started the ‘No Fly Zone,’ so it’s going to always be here,” said Harris, who has some new co-pilots in cornerbacks Tramaine Brock, Adam Jones and Isaac Yiadom backing up Talib’s replacement, Bradley Roby.
At safety, the Broncos had hoped to add some pop to go with Darian Stewart’s heady play, and they acquired Su’a Cravens from Washington. But he’s on IR with a sore left knee, leaving Will Parks and Dymonte Thomas to step up.
Behind Sherman’s swagger, Seattle’s secondary became a catchphrase across the NFL. The “Legion of Boom” was so well known the names of Sherman, Chancellor and Earl Thomas were always associated with that moniker.
Sherman is now with division rival San Francisco. Chancellor’s career is likely over after a neck injury suffered last season. Thomas is still around but he only returned to the team on Wednesday after a holdout that produced neither the contract extension nor the trade he hoped for.
Broncos coach Vance Joseph doesn’t see much difference on film, however.
“That defence is more of a culture than it is a certain player,” Joseph said. “They play hard, they play fast and that’s what coach [Pete] Carroll brought there five or six years ago. As I watch the tape this year, it’s different names and numbers, but it’s the same personalities. It’s Seattle. It looks like Seattle.”
If Thomas plays Sunday, it will likely be on a limited “pitch count” as Carroll described it.
Otherwise, Seattle’s secondary features Shaquill Griffin and Dontae Johnson at cornerbacks, Bradley McDougald at strong safety and some combination of Thomas and Tedric Thompson at free safety.
Not quite “Boom” worthy just yet.
Griffin is on his way to being Seattle’s next secondary star. He showed the skill last year as a rookie playing opposite Sherman and may eventually take over as the leader of the unit. Johnson was a starter last year in San Francisco, and McDougald may be one of Seattle’s most versatile players with the ability to bounce between both strong safety and free safety.
“It’s very reassuring Earl is back,” McDougald said. “I’m happy he’s here and I’m ready to get to work.”