The Legion of Boom has long been considered the NFL’s most fearsome foursome. In Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, and Brandon Browner/Byron Maxwell, Seattle had four of the biggest, baddest football players alive.
The quartet quickly became known for their brash style of play and all-around dominance. Despite Seattle’s defense remaining among the best in the NFL, it’s tremendous depth suffered after Browner, Maxwell, Walter Thurmond, and others were plucked from Seattle by cornerback-needy teams.
Last season, the unit was decimated with injuries and faced with the adversity of a Kam Chancellor holdout. The Legion of Boom had apparently lost its luster.
Seattle unearthed some major contributors the second half of last season. Fresh off his ACL injury in Super Bowl 49, Jeremy Lane stepped up and helped a weakened secondary down the stretch. After returning to Seattle on a sizeable four-year contract, he’s the frontrunner to start opposite Richard Sherman next season. Despite a slow start, the Seahawks secondary ended last season on a high note after the emergence of Lane and DeShawn Shead.
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This year, the Legion of Boom appears to have regained its swagger. Kam Chancellor looks ready to put last year’s holdout debacle behind him and return to terrorizing opponents with his bone crushing hits. Earl Thomas III’s 2015 was ravaged by injuries, but he’s hungrier than ever. All-Pro CB Richard Sherman and Lane round out the foursome.
Aside from Sherman, Chancellor, Thomas III, and Lane, the bottom of the depth chart is littered with untapped potential. Stanley Jean-Baptiste, George Farmer, Tyvis Powell, Trovon Reed, Tanner McEvoy, DeAndre Elliott and Tye Smith are all long, lanky, athletic defensive backs with the potential to be Seattle’s next late round gem.
Jean-Baptiste even has the pedigree of being a 2nd round pick, yet plenty of questions remain. Were his failed tenures in New Orleans and Detroit due to misuse, or does he not have the chops to make it in the NFL? Can Seattle’s renowned coaching staff fix his flaws? We’ll find out next season.
Tharold Simon has been bitten by the injury bug throughout his entire career, but he struggled during the 2014 playoffs after he was thrust into action. This year it’s boom or bust for the physically talented 25-year-old.
Elsewhere, Marcus Burley has been a solid backup at nickel cornerback, but he’s unlikely to make the team due to the amount of young talent on the roster. Kelcie McCray filled in admirably for an injured Kam Chancellor last season. He’ll look to build on a promising season next year.
Then there’s Tye Smith. A 2015 5th round pick, reports from the VMAC are incredibly encouraging. However, it’s OTA’s, so it’s unwise to read too much into anything, good or bad. After a “redshirt” year last season, he has another year of experience under his belt. Regardless, Smith looks primed to breakout next season.
In addition, the mystery of how Pete Carroll will tinker with his prized secondary looms over the group. Throughout Carroll’s tenure, Seattle’s scheme has been pretty basic. After reuniting with Brandon Browner, both Carroll and Kris Richard have hinted at utilizing some interesting sub-packages, as well as a more matchup based secondary. Formerly the starter at right cornerback, Browner will transition into a hybrid safety/linebacker role to attempt to stop opposing tight end, something the Legion of Boom struggled at last season.
The Seahawks currently have 17 defensive backs on the 90 man roster. Last season, they carried nine. Opposing offenses beware: the Legion of Boom is back and they’re coming for your quarterback next season.