In the NFL, people talk about “duos” a lot, even when they don’t realize they’re doing it. Typically it seems most like the focus is either on the individuals or the teams — Is Antonio Brown the best receiver? Are the Patriots the best team? Who are the top five quarterbacks? But then again, so much simply comes down to pairs.
The top pair of pass rushers is better than the single best pass rusher.
The top pair of receivers is going to be a bigger threat than the single best receiver and the quarterback is going to benefit more from having a great duo.
A pair of safeties who are on the same page for every play and can reach each other’s minds is going to be invaluable, especially compared to a single great safety who might have to find a way to work with Steven Terrell ...
This week, former Seattle Seahawks receiver Nate Burleson presented current Seahawks receivers Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett as the 13th-best WR duo in the NFL for the NFL Network. Given Lockett’s injury concerns over his two seasons, I think that’s a fair assessment. It also got me thinking about some of the Seahawks other duos, including some who are definitely up there as the best duos in the league, and in some cases, the best duos in NFL history.
Thomas Rawls & Eddie Lacy
You could argue that the eventual duo will be Lacy and C.J. Prosise, or Rawls and Prosise, but I had to do a McPick2 here and went with the guys who are looking to split number one carries rather than the guys who might split up 1st, 2nd, and 3rd down carries — look, it’s an inexact science, don’t kill me on this one.
Overall, the trio of Rawls, Lacy, and Prosise could be the best running back trio in the league. That’s how good it could be despite how ugly the run game was in 2016; it’s easy to forget just how committed to and successful with the run Pete Carroll was for his first six years in Seattle. Lacy is still young and not far removed from being one of the better backs in the NFL, Rawls is a season removed from leading all backs in DYAR and YPC. Overall, this could be a great unit, and I think Lacy is a massive upgrade from Christine Michael as the duo-buddy from a year ago.
Doug Baldwin & Tyler Lockett
Doug Baldwin & Jimmy Graham
Who is the real duo here? Is it the team’s top two wide receivers or is it the team’s top two receivers? Graham may be a tight end, but he’s the Seahawks biggest threat in the passing game and paired with Baldwin — a top-10 wideout — they have an argument for becoming the league’s top receiving duo for 2017.
With Lockett, Paul Richardson, and Amara Darboh, Russell Wilson has an array of talented weapons at his disposal this year. Unfortunately, I couldn’t possibly include Seattle’s pair of tackles or pair of guards on this list.
Cliff Avril & Michael Bennett
At long last, Pro Bowl buddies. Avril made his first Pro Bowl in 2016, leading the team with 11.5 sacks. Bennett only had five, but missed five games and is a versatile force who can play multiple positions and on all three downs.
The Seahawks couldn’t have won the Super Bowl without the improved play at quarterback that they got from Wilson beginning in 2012, but maybe we don’t emphasize enough that it wasn’t until signing Bennett and Avril in 2013 that they truly took that next step forward on defense. It was arguably Pete and John’s most masterful move in roster building yet. The four years they’ve spent together on this team has flown by, but I also can’t imagine a time when they weren’t suited up in green and blue and I imagine they’ll be local heroes for a long time.
Of course, Frank Clark’s presence on the roster also gives this duo some insurance from becoming a solo should Bennett or Avril miss any time.
Bobby Wagner & KJ Wright
Another Seahawks duo that finally got to enjoy the Pro Bowl together after Wright got a nod as an alternate. A top-three middle linebacker and a top-three 4-3 outside linebacker, now going into their sixth season together.
Holy shit, really? Six seasons? Yeah, six seasons.
There’s a few guys who have been together since 2012 — Wilson to Baldwin. Wagner and Wright. Three of the best secondary players of all-time — Think of how much that chemistry will come into play over the next 6-7 months.
Richard Sherman & Shaquill Griffin
Just opted to pick a corner here, and went with the guy who fans are most excited about. Jeremy Lane and Sherman have been working together since 2012 also, but I simply can’t get excited about Lane following last season. Maybe a move to the outside will help, but I’m more intrigued by Griffin at the moment. How will this “duo” work together from the onset? Sherman, and many others, have been showering praise on Griffin for his abilities already, but none of that will matter unless it shows on the field in September. I think people were also hopeful for Cary Williams. And Lane. And Terrell.
I have much more faith in Griffin’s abilities, but even then he’s still got zero NFL games under his belt and it could take some time. Sherman is still young enough that if he signs an extension in 2018, he and Griffin could spend a lot of years together. If not, who knows who Seattle’s starting corners could be in 2019.
Earl Thomas & Kam Chancellor
It’s really tough to argue against Earl and Kam as the best duo on the Seahawks. Or as one of the best duos of any position on any team in the entire league. Or that they shouldn’t have a plaque in the Hall of Fame one day. Earl, Kam, and Sherman helped transform NFL defenses beginning in 2011 and if not for them — as well as Carroll, Schneider, Gus Bradley, Dan Quinn, Kris Richard, etc. — would the Denver Broncos have won the Super Bowl in 2015? Given that they transformed their own secondary based on the one that Seattle used to snuff them out in 48? Or how about the team that beat them in 2014, New England, who went out and got Darrelle Revis and former LOB member Brandon Browner that year? Did you notice the uptick in cornerbacks and safeties drafted in the first round beginning in 2014? Did you notice the strong safeties who looked an awful like like Kam? The corners who were big like Sherman? The free safeties who— let’s be honest, there’s only one Earl. But did you notice the monster contract that Jairus Byrd got right after the Seahawks big win?
This is the duo that fans simply can’t wait to see together again. Jim and Pam. Ross and Rachel. Earl and Kam.
Pete Carroll & John Schneider
The O.G. duo. The pair that started it all. Thank everything for the team hiring Carroll in 2010, but also for allowing him to handpick his own general manager, and for that guy being John Schneider. Without them, we may not have a single one of these duos at all.
So, who’s your favorite pair?