When the Seattle Seahawks face the Los Angeles Rams this weekend, it’ll be the first time in the Pete Carroll era that none of the original Legion of Boom members took the field. Earl Thomas started every game of his rookie season in 2010, Kam Chancellor had bit parts that same year, while Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner wouldn’t appear until 2011. Thomas is done for 2018, Chancellor is effectively retired, Sherman is with the San Francisco 49ers, and Browner is facing a possible life sentence.
Just what was this Seahawks defense like before the Legion of Boom started to form? Well it was absolutely awful, but nevertheless here’s a rundown of the four starters in the secondary for Week 17 of the 2009 season against the Tennessee Titans, as well as others who were on the roster but either injured or didn’t start.
Trufant became a mentor for the Legion of Boom in his final years in Seattle, but at his peak he was the team’s best cornerback. His best season came in 2007, when he intercepted seven passes in the regular season, one in the postseason, and returned two of those eight picks for touchdowns. Tim Ruskell gave him a six-year, $50 million contract extension, but Trufant was never the same after ‘07, and he was really just the best of a bad bunch in the ‘09 secondary. Trufant sadly never stuck around to get a Super Bowl ring in 2013, as he spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He would sign a one-day contract to retire as a Seahawk in 2014.
At 5’11” and a 180 pounds, drafting Jennings in the first-round as an outside cornerback would be laughed at by Pete Carroll and John Schneider... really laughed at by most GMs in today’s NFL. Kelly was the 31st overall pick in 2006, and spent more than four painful seasons getting beaten in coverage, physically outmuscled, and never ever turning his head to look for the football. I don’t think I’ve seen too many corners with worse ball skills than Jennings. Seattle traded him to the Cincinnati Bengals in 2011.
Ruskell made Grant, a former Jacksonville Jaguar, the third-highest paid safety in the NFL in the 2007 offseason. He also gave Brian Russell a five-year contract, but my all-time most hated Seahawk was cut before the 2009 regular season. Grant was reasonably effective without being outstanding, recording eight interceptions through three seasons, all while never missing a start in Seattle. Grant ended his career with the New York Giants, winning a Super Bowl in 2011.
“Big Play Babs” was like the Jermaine Kearse of the defense. At times he was an outright liability, up until he wasn’t. You may know “Big Play Babs” from the Tony Romo fumbled snap, but the original “Big Play Babs” moment came in 2005, when his late interception of Drew Bledsoe and subsequent return set up an unlikely game-winning field goal for Josh Brown as time expired to beat the Dallas Cowboys 13-10. Babineaux replaced Russell at free safety before himself being reduced to nickel package appearances when Earl Thomas came over. Babineaux spent 2011-2012 with the Tennessee Titans and retired in 2014.
Other Notable Players
Lawyer Milloy (SS)
The former New England Patriot and Buffalo Bill was completely washed by the time he came to Seattle. He retired in 2011 after a very successful career, and he’s still a Seattle sports legend through his time at the University of Washington.
Ken Lucas (CB)
Lucas was a second-round pick back in 2001 and stayed with the Seahawks until 2004. He signed with the Carolina Panthers in 2005 and stayed with them until 2008. Ruskell brought Lucas back in 2009, and he appeared in all 16 games while starting in a half-dozen of them.
Josh Wilson (CB)
I always liked “Pistol.” He was Seattle’s first draft choice in 2007 and was a valuable returner on special teams, an effective blitzer, and he returned three interceptions for touchdowns in his three seasons with the Seahawks. Wilson was traded to the Baltimore Ravens in 2010, causing Field Gulls to go into complete meltdown. He’s been out of the league since the 2015 season, which was spent with the Detroit Lions.
Travis Fisher (SS)
Injuries forced the Seahawks to sign former St. Louis Rams safety Travis Fisher early in the season. He was awful and only played one more season before his career was over.
Roy Lewis (CB)
One of the few holdovers from the Pete Carroll and John Schneider roster purge was UW’s own Roy Lewis. We saw him as an extra DB on some of Gus Bradley’s “bandit” packages, and on special teams. He was let go after the 2011 season.
Jamar Adams (SS)
A guy who existed. He was listed as a safety but mostly played on special teams in limited action, and was out of the league after joining the Philadelphia Eagles in 2010.
C.J. Wallace (CB)
I honestly have more recollection of C.J. Wallace as a defensive back for the Washington Huskies as I do his three years with the Seahawks, of which his first one was cut short due to a knee injury. He played in the UFL in 2010 with the Las Vegas Locomotives, then closed out his career with the San Diego Chargers in 2011.
It is of no surprise that the very brief (and not brief enough) Jim Mora era ended with the Seahawks finishing 30th in pass defense DVOA.
The post-Legion of Boom era officially begins this Sunday, and unlike the 2009 group, there’s a lot to like about safety Bradley McDougald and cornerback Shaquill Griffin. Rookie CB Tre Flowers has shown some promise after a difficult debut, and now all eyes will be on how much free safety Tedric Thompson has improved in his second year in the NFL. Replicating the LOB is virtually impossible, but that doesn’t mean the new Seahwaks secondary can’t carve their own path to greatness.