Did we get the short end of the stick? Will we regret giving up two 1st round picks and a quality safety in Bradley McDougald to get a superstar Strong Safety? Let me answer those questions with another question: Do you see how NYJ fans are dejected after losing Jamal Adams? For this to be worth it for them, the Jets will have to find a player with at least one of those two likely/hopefully late round picks who are as great and dynamic as Adams is. Play recognition, athleticism and intimidation are off the charts and near the top of the league. All of these analysts are running the numbers and want to talk about what the prices should be… stop it. Even Gregg Williams is having a hard time letting go!
Pete said in a recent interview on KJR: “I’ve had the good fortune of coaching some really good safeties over the years and there’s reason to believe that this guy can do just about anything the other guys have ever done”. That list of great safeties includes Polamalu, Chancellor and Thomas III. If that is true… WOW.
I’ve mentioned before that there is generally a 50% hit rate on 1st round draft picks. Half of them work out, and the other half don’t. How many of those become 1st team All-Pros at their position? Even less. Combining this notion with a look back at the track record of the Seattle Seahawks’ recent 1st round draft picks: a bird in the hand. An unfortunate reality that is also part of this whole deal is the instability of next year’s draft due to COVID related college football cancellations. We won’t get the chance to see, scout and evaluate the top prospects in next year’s draft in the same way as usual.
If you can recall, the Jets’ division rival Dolphins wanted their GM fired (Fireland) because of not having the huevos to make big moves. Seattle is the exact opposite. Pete Carroll and John Schneider are going for gold and aggressively reimagining their defense the way they want it. Getting Quinton Dunbar, who was graded as the 2nd best corner in the NFL last season by Pro Football Focus, from the Football Team is another thing to be hyped about. We got a lockdown corner instead of a locked up corner. We’ve now got Quandre Diggs (a pro bowler and former Lions team captain) and Jamal Adams (with his All-Pro talents) at safety. We’ve got Shaquill Griffin (another pro bowler) and Dunbar (with his aforementioned PFF grades) at corner, with Tre Flowers and Ugo Amadi having solid starting experience at outside and slot corner (respectively) coming off the bench. Marquise Blair has been impressing as a 2nd round safety converting to slot. This has transformed into a pretty legit secondary.
I imagined a different route to a defensive resurgence, but hey, this front office has earned my trust. Pete wants to stop deep plays, keep everything in front of them with the safeties, freeing up the corners to jam receivers at the line and make aggressive plays to hit ball carriers immediately and create turnovers. That’s his defensive philosophy. Single-high safety (Quandre) cover 3 scheme allowed for more playmakers in the box (that will be Jamal). This defensive framework has led to unprecedented prosperity in the PNW, so we need to ride with our guy while we still have him. Fingers crossed that the young guys can step up to create a pass rush.
It looks like the Hawks will ride with Rasheem Green + L.J.Collier (last year’s 1st round pick who didn’t play) at strong-side defensive end, and possibly kick inside on pass rushing downs. Across the formation, a combo of Bruce Irvin, Benson Mayowa and rookies Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson will hold down the fort as Leo Edge Rushers, and double up when the strong-side guys move inside. While I’m nervous about this pass rush rotation and it’s lack of a menacing presence, a la Jadeveon Clowney, let’s not overlook the fact that Adams is cheaper this year than McDougald would’ve been (!). That frees up some space to potentially trade (before the season or during) for a player that may come available or who fits a screaming need. Will that be O-line? Will that be pass rush (DE’s or DT’s such as Snacks Harrison & Marcell Dareus)? We can wait to see if Clowney would take $8-12M to chase a trophy… if not, go get someone else. I hate to say it, but if Jordyn Brooks (this year’s surprise 1st round pick) comes along in his development at linebacker, our guy K.J. Wright could be a trade piece that we move during the season to acquire another player/free up cap space. Pete and John are great at evaluating in-season.
The final piece of this is that we not only prevented the fellow NFC-contending Cowboys from unleashing Jamal Adams, but we also successfully stopped the Niners (who we should have a healthy, begrudging respect for) from getting Adams and creating their own version of a neo-L.O.B. PHEW. When you are as consistently good as the Hawks have been, roster construction isn’t just about your team, but also about how you match up with other good teams in your conference. We now have a player that can confidently match up with George Kittle. Remember when Kam Chancellor struck fear into the hearts of the frontrunning Niners and their beast of a tight end a few years back? That helped to usher in a near decade of Seahawks dominance in the NFC West. When you see a bad dude get punked by an even badder dude, it changes the whole tone of the contest. Guys feed off of that energy. Jamal Adams plays the same position, and has the ability to rival Kam’s exploits… no cap.
Now, there could be an acclimation period, with no rookie camp, team minicamps, OTA’s, preseason or extended training camp this year for our defense to get on the same page. Either way, Pete and John have infused talent and energy into this entire team. No risk-it, no biscuit. Jamal Adams could very well be a culture-shifting game-wrecker all over the field who helps to galvanize this defense. We just brought another serious piece with a dawg mentality to the fight because Pete and John play to win. Is it possible that someday when we look back at Pete Carroll’s legacy in Seattle, that we’ll talk about the old and new testaments of the L.O.B.?? We can only hope that our defense lives up to all of its potential. Pete always gives us a swinging chance to be great. Russ is ready and just hitting his prime. If we can win the division, our team has the swagger and the magic to make it to another Super Bowl. I said it. I’m talkin’ really big rings.