The Seattle Seahawks have added depth at linebacker and in the secondary this offseason. The Seahawks have still not answered who will play corner on the opposite side of Richard Sherman in 2017. Seattle, however, will have a much better group of safeties than in 2016.
The question becomes how will Seattle use those safeties next season. More teams are going to a three safety look, especially during obvious passing situations. Seattle could be thinking of doing the same.
With the addition of Bradley McDougald at a position that Kam Chancellor plays, Seattle could schematically move Chancellor to the SAM position at times. Chancellor plays close to the line naturally so having him move up to either cover the tight end or stay in to cover the run is easily conceivable. McDougald would then move to Chancellor’s normal position.
The Seahawks would then have McDougald and Earl Thomas playing deep with Chancellor at the SAM. This would allow linebackers Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright to cover more of the middle. Covering the middle has been a weakness of the Seahawks over the past few years as teams have been reluctant to throw deep against Thomas and Sherman.
The Seahawks, especially late in the season, had more issues getting to the opposing quarterback. With more time to throw, especially with dump passes, teams like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were able to be patient and defeat Seattle.
Moving Chancellor closer to the line may also free Wagner and Wright to blitz as well. Under defensive coordinator Kris Richard the Seahawks blitzed more often than when Gus Bradley was calling the defensive plays. In the Super Bowl year of 2013 under Bradley, the Seahawks blitzed 21.35 percent of pass plays. That was 28th in the National Football League. Last season under Bradley, the Seahawks blitzed nearly 26 percent of the time. While that number was still not in the top ten of the league, Seattle still showed more aggression in attempting to get to the opposing quarterback.
The Seahawks have signed three linebackers to free agent contracts. Those three players are also expected to be special teams players. None of them are expected to take a starting role at the SAM.
Chancellor will still certainly be the starting strong safety in 2017. McDougald’s signing gives the Seahawks needed depth and great flexibility, though. How they use this flexibility will be interesting to see.