Seahawks CB Richard Sherman made the first start of his career last 3 games ago, and he exceeded expectations in almost every way. Not that it would have been too hard to do so, as expectations were extremely low. Perhaps I should just say that he played quite well. A week ago against Dallas, Sherman had a solid but unspectacular game. Overall he played well, but there were some growing pains mixed in amongst the otherwise decent play.
Two days ago, in just his third start, Sherman had probably the single best game played by a Seattle corner since 2008. Sherman was dominant; completely shutting down the receiver he was assigned to cover.
His final stat line on the day looked like this: 3 tackles, 2 passes defended. As unimpressive as that sounds, consider this stat line: targeted 9 times, only 2 catches for 22 yards and no TDs. That’s the stat line for Anquan Boldin, the pro bowl WR who Sherman was matched up against all night.
The stellar play by Sherman contrasted sharply with that of fellow CB Brandon Browner. Browner was penalized 2 more times on Sunday, bringing his total to 15 in 9 games. Browner was mostly assigned to cover rookie Torrey Smith, a WR who’s struggled to get open for most of the season. While Smith finished with only 3 catches for 28 yards, there were also 2 plays in which Browner was beaten deep and Raven QB Joe Flacco simply missed Smith. Had it not been for a very bad day for Flacco, both of those passes would have gone for touchdowns.
With Marcus Trufant’s decline and impending free agency, along with Browner’s complete ineffectiveness, the Seahawks appeared to be heading toward an offseason in which they need to find 2 new starting corners. While one of those might have been filled with Walter Thurmond, the position was clearly one that needed multiple additions.
Since taking over as a starter following the injuries to Trufant and Thurmond, Sherman has definitely changed the severity the need at corner appears to be. Sherman can now be counted on to be a starter in 2012. While Browner and Trufant will still have to be replaced, the emergence of Sherman take away some of the sense of desperation about the position.