Author’s Note: This was supposed to be a preview of Saturday’s NFC Divisional game between the Seattle Seahawks and the New Orleans Saints. Well, it did not turn out as such. Instead it resulted in the brief history of the Seahawks Legion of Boom and if any playoff team will find themselves victorious after 60 minutes with their ferocity. Sorry if you were expecting otherwise — at least Seahawks fans will be happy.
The story of the NFL’s best secondary began only a short time ago, and, perhaps, is a story more of good fortune than anything else.
In 2010, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll took the reigns of the Seattle based franchise and set out to build a team that would win games with its defense. And to do so, Carroll looked to the NFL Draft. In 2010 and 2011, Carroll focused the top half of the draft on his offense by selecting Tackles, Guards, and Wide Receivers. In fact, it was not until the later rounds that Carroll would truly leave his mark on the Seahawks defense.
With the exception of Safety Earl Thomas (14th pick in 2010), Seattle waited to draft its secondary players until the 5th round or later. Carroll, a former defensive backs coach, took the road less traveled and began to select defensive backs that were traditionally a bit oversized for their position, which is probably why many fell to the later rounds. In 2010 Carroll nabbed Oregon corner Walter Thurmond in the 4th round, and then 6’3″ 230 pound Cam Chancellor in the 5th round. In 2011 Seattle grabbed corners Richard Sherman and Byron Maxwell in the 5th and 6th round, respectively. To top off this insanity, Carroll proceeded to sign Brandon Browner, an undrafted cornerback who had been playing with the Calgary Stampeders since 2007 when he was let go by the Broncos.
Stashing back end NFL draftees is not normally a recipe for success, but rather a stick of dynamite waiting for the fuse to be lit. Yet, not even Mel Kiper or Todd McShay could predict what would happen next, and in 2011 would have called you insane if you were to tell them that in 2013 this collection of castoffs would make up the NFL’s best secondary.
In 2013 the five man tandem, that used to be six (due to Browner’s suspension), took the NFL by storm. They finished the regular season with the best pass defense in the NFL by a mile. They picked off a league high 28 passes, allowed only 172 pass yards per game, and held opposing quarterback ratings to an average of 63.4. To illustrate this dominance even more, Football Outsiders Team Defensive Index pins the Seahawks team defense as -11.5% points better than anyone else. The ‘Hawks score of -30% is lightyears ahead of the competition, and their pass defense grades out even better with a -34.3% score (negative scores are better). Note: To better understand the Defensive Index, click here.
At the beginning of 2013 Sherman and co. believed their defense deserved a nickname, and according to Elizabeth Merrill of ESPN.com a nickname was soon born:
Chancellor was on a radio show when he was asked about what type of player he was, and the walloping 6-foot-3, 232-pound safety said he liked to bring the boom. Shortly after that, a fan offered up the “Legion of Boom” nickname via Twitter. T-shirts were printed. Floormats, bumper stickers and legends were made.”
The name Legion of Boom stems from the infamous DC Comics series that featured Batman, Superman, the Joker, and Twoface. The Legion of Doom was a collection of sinister Supervillains the likes of Lex Luthor, Captain Cold, Scarecrow, and the Riddler. Their headquarters, the Hall of Doom, was located underneath a swamp outside of Gotham City. This Hall was actually mobile, could fly through the air and even up into space. In addition, it possessed “laser defense weapons and at times was altered to time travel to the past or future (Wikipedia.org).” The Legion’s ultimate goal was always to take down Batman, Superman, and his other allies without their plan foiling and getting caught.
The Seahawks Legion perceives no capture in their future. And, truly, why should they? Who is the Batman or Superman that is going to defeat them? Heck, they already took down “Superman” himself Cam Newton back in September. Will it be Drew Brees and his Saints’ this Saturday? He came to Seattle on December 2 and the Legion of Boom held his squad to seven points. Could it be Colin Kaepernick in two weeks? Kap flew into Seattle in Week Two and left with three points to his name. Maybe if the Legion can manage to escape their way to the chilly Meadowlands in early February for the Super Bowl, their kryptonite could be Peyton Manning or Tom Brady? Well, Brady did not fare too well in 2012 when he threw two picks, lost 24-23, and was asked by Richard Sherman, “You mad, bro?” at the end of the game. Manning has yet to face the Legion of Boom, but he isn’t known for his cold weather performances against secondaries less notorious than Seattle’s.
If the history of DC Comic’s Legion of Doom is any indication of the Seahawks’ future, they will soon be defeated. Throughout the history of the Legion of Doom their plans are consistently foiled and they are typically caught.
If they are to be caught, I doubt it will be this week. It is hard to envision the New Orleans Saints rolling into CenturyLink Field and leaving with a win. Russell Wilson has only lost one game at home since becoming Seattle’s starting quarterback, and if Week 13’s 34-7 win over the Saints is any indication, the Saints are in for another long afternoon in Seattle. It is going to take a monumental effort for the Saints to leave victorious, and, quite frankly, I do not see it happening. Happy viewing, and look out of the Legion of Boom.