Overview: For the eighth consecutive season, Deon Grant started all 16 games. On a superficial statistical level, Grant's season looked like his every other: 79 total tackles, eight passes defended and two interceptions. He was played in the tackle box or walked up to the line for much of the of the season following the Giant's 254 yard rushing assault in week five.
What went right: Grant was a leader in the real sense of the word making reads in the secondary and positioning Seattle's young and less aware defensive backs in place to make the play. When allowed to play deep safety, Grant again showed the recognition, quickness and ball skills that made him so valuable last season. His execution - especially his timing - on safety blitzes is remarkable.
Philadelphia 17 - Seattle 7
3-4-SEA 4 (Qtr: 2:09)
Eagles break 2 WR, TE, Split Backs with McNabb in shotgun. Seattle in a 4-1 dime. Before the snap, Deon Grant directs Jordan Babineaux over right split back Lorenzo Booker. Brian Westbrook motions into the right slot. Grant gives Wilson a come here gesture and points him towards a spot opposite Westbrook. Grant looks back towards the endz--
McNabb snaps, Brent Celek shoots out wide right attempting a block, Westbrook quick-curls towards McNabb, McNabb delivers a perfect pass into his numbers and almost as soon as Grant can see the play has started Wilson is in Westbrook's frame finishing the no-doubt-about-it tackle for a loss of three.
What went wrong: Grant wasn't a good in-the-box safety in 2007 and removed all doubt in 2008. He's better against the run as a support tackler or a finisher. If a run is channeled to him or strung wide, he can put on a body on the rusher and record the stop. He's not a reliable open-field tackler and wont to bad angles and broken arm tackles.
Grant is uneven breaking from the line and engaging in man cover.
In week six, Grant collided with Packers' fullback Cory Hall on the first play from scrimmage. After the game he said, "I heard a pop, so it must be an MCL," and added, "Something happened with it. I didn't get any tests. I just put a brace on and went back out there."
Quintessential Game: Seahawks at 49ers
Deon Grant makes a wonderful free safety: Four plays after pick two, Niners at the two. Both teams are in classic goal line formations. Grant is wide-right playing contain. At the snap, Frank Gore runs into an impenetrable pile but escapes, breaks right and runs unabated for the score. Grant is 100% to blame. At the snap, Frank Gore runs into an impenetrable pile, but when he begins breaking right, Grant can be seen staring into the pile, at the center of the field, away from Gore, unaware of Gore and out of the play as soon as Gore hits the corner. Just a terrible play by a player I really like.
Outlook: Grant didn't miss a game or even the rest of week six. He looked broken on the trainer's table and was indisputably in terrible pain, but was back by the second quarter. Grant may just be lucky or abnormally resilient. Whatever the case, he appeared on the week seven injury report as "probable", played and nothing more was reported about the injury.
A cover 2 shell would suite Grant nicely. He could read and react to plays and tackle or attack passes running downhill. He's not a prototypical Tampa 2 safety, but as he ages and slows, it will soften his decline. What he adds as a pass defender should more than overcome his weaknesses in run support. Pass defense is the second most important component to winning. Seattle can maximize its pass defense by using the correct personnel and using it correctly. That means starting Darryl Tapp, blitzing Leroy Hill and putting Grant in cover.