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The Drive: Tedric Thompson intercepts it at the end

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Seattle Seahawks v Cleveland Browns Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

One thing I really like about Pete Carroll is that he’s not punitive and he doesn’t over-learn from limited experience. So many coaches, indeed so many people, allow bad experiences to shrink their lives. They overgeneralize from mistakes, become overly embittered by failure, and overly resentful by the cruelty or failure of others, and watch the world close in around them like Kafka’s mouse.

1ST & 10 AT CLV 20(05:02)

(5:02) B.Mayfield pass deep right to O.Beckham to SEA 39 for 41 yards (T.Thompson). Seattle challenged the pass completion ruling, and the play was Upheld. The ruling on the field stands. (Timeout #2.)This first play is difficult to read. Here’s the presnap look.

Tedric Thompson, circled, is walked down opposite Odell Beckham Jr. Even though Cleveland is fielding three wide receivers, Seattle is in its convention busting 4-3. Thompson is presumably walked down to stop Cleveland from attempting anything cheap and short to the otherwise uncovered Beckham.

The Browns run play action. Moments after the play fake, Seattle’s secondary looks like this.

Underneath coverage is sucked in. Flowers, who is the topmost Seahawk in the above image, chases Antonio Callaway almost as if he’s in man coverage. Shaquill Griffin, bottom, hovers over Jarvis Landry. What Thompson does is confusing. He doesn’t jump the run but when he sees the play is a pass, he retreats to, well, here.

McDougald is way too far right to pick up Beckham. Beckham is all but uncontested. Finally Thompson, of all things, looks back to see Beckham running free and gets on his horse to attempt a heroic save.

Luckily for Seattle, Beckham runs a very loose kind of corner route, and that allows Thompson to catch up and attempt a play on the ball. For all that’s confusing and probably malfunctioning about this coverage, Thompson’s ability to make a play on the ball is impressive.

Beckham snatches the ball before Thompson can very possibly make an incredible interception.

In the end, what looks like it could have been a busted coverage which turned into an easy touchdown becomes an exceedingly difficult catch to stop a potential interception.

1ST & 10 AT SEA 39(04:48)

(4:48) N.Chubb left guard to SEA 36 for 3 yards (E.Ansah).

Thompson and McDougald switch duties for the next play.

Thompson doesn’t factor into the outcome.

2ND & 7 AT SEA 36(04:12)

(4:12) N.Chubb right guard to SEA 30 for 6 yards (T.Thompson; A.Woods).

Thompson gets a tackle assist for his efforts here, with a heavy emphasis on assist.

He’s the right safety in a symmetrical look.

He’s slow to realize the play is a run. Here’s the moment of hand off.

And when Thompson’s body language indicates he knows it’s a run play.

Bit of a delay—not too significant to the outcome of this play, but I like to record as much meaningful data as I can.

Chubb picks and fights through quite a few arm tackles. Poona misses. Kendricks misses. Ansah misses, but his tackle greatly slows Chubb, and he deserves credit for that. Finally Al Woods and Thompson wrap Chubb—just as they were taught to do in sex ed.

3RD & 1 AT SEA 30(03:46)

(3:46) (No Huddle) B.Mayfield right guard to SEA 28 for 2 yards (A.Woods).

Quarterback sneak. Thompson does not factor.

1ST & 10 AT SEA 28(03:02)

(3:02) (Shotgun) B.Mayfield pass incomplete short right to R.Seals-Jones (M.Kendricks).

Baker Mayfield throws this one too much on a line, as the saying goes, and that allows a badly beat Kendricks to make a touchdown saving tip. Tedric’s playing deep safety.

Kendricks begins to be beat. (Both are just above the 30>)

Thompson is the slightest beat slow to react, and in reversing his momentum, he stumbles slightly.

Seconds after the tip, Thompson’s closing but it’s arguable whether he would have made it.

I do not know exactly how long it would’ve taken Ricky Seals-Jones to catch and turn up field, but as I said maybe maybe maybe Thompson could have made an open-field tackle to stop the touchdown. At the moment the tipped pass collided with turf, Thompson was on Jones to make the tackle.

He’s the blur watching Seals-Jones try out for the crazy old man singers.

2ND & 10 AT SEA 28(02:59)

(2:59) B.Mayfield pass short left to N.Chubb to SEA 22 for 6 yards (K.Wright; J.Clowney).

Good reaction this time.

He maintains outside containment and keeps himself unblocked.

Which may have some negligible effect on Chubb’s ability to sprint full speed, but this is Clowney and KJ’s show and both in series catch Chubb from behind.

It’s inconsequential to the outcome of the play but Thompson does a good job of evading Browns center JC Tretter (#64). Tretter moves well.

3RD & 4 AT SEA 22(02:13)

(2:13) (Shotgun) B.Mayfield pass short left to A.Callaway to SEA 12 for 10 yards (J.Taylor; T.Thompson).

TT’s got the deep middle again. I would make a sliding into DMs joke here but I chew my own food and thus am legally prohibited from making such a joke. It’s a hardship.

Seattle’s in man coverage which feels a bit strange to write. Thompson does a good job of shadowing Mayfield as Mayfield scrambles. Particularly impressive though is right here just as Mayfield is passing Thompson is already closing toward the targeted receiver. That’s reading the quarterback’s eyes very well.

Here’s an even better look. Thompson is the deepest visible player. Jamar Taylor is badly beat.

It’s a bit strange and not worth taking a screen grab for, but in the process of closing Thompson very briefly makes a false read and runs to his right. That might have cost him a chance to make a play on the ball. Still, he’s very near as Antonio Callaway makes the reception.

The tackle’s good enough that it doesn’t require any review.

1ST & 10 AT SEA 12(02:00)

(2:00) N.Chubb left guard to SEA 10 for 2 yards (B.Wagner).

Thompson doesn’t factor.

2ND & 8 AT SEA 10(01:36)

(1:36) (No Huddle) B.Mayfield pass deep right intended for J.Landry INTERCEPTED by T.Thompson (Sq.Griffin) at SEA -6. T.Thompson pushed ob at SEA 12 for 18 yards (O.Beckham).

Deep middle.

He’s unaffected by play action.

Reads Mayfield’s eyes near perfectly.

Closes enough that perhaps he influences Mayfield to not lead Landry—but I cannot prove that. Certainly if Thompson were not there, it would make sense to lead Landry more, and it surely made sense to lead Landry somewhat more no matter what. But Mayfield, who was inaccurate all game, throws it opposite Landry’s momentum and that allows Griffin to turn tight coverage into a deflection.

Which Thompson finds and catches.

Indeed he has to find the ball twice as Landry reaches back and deflects it again.

For the second time in two weeks Tedric made a very difficult, exceptionally valuable interception which was likely integral to the Seahawks winning.

Thompson is beginning to show a lot of promise. It’s tough to know from such a limited analysis whether he is reliable in his coverage. At times, he seems unsure, which isn’t fatal for a 24-year old who has played fewer than 1,000 regular season snaps on defense. He has ball skills, perhaps excellent ball skills. After a bit of a slow start at Colorado, he led the Pac-12 in interceptions his senior season grabbing seven. God forgive me for this abomination but I can’t help myself.

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Thompson had a rough stretch. His near excellence was, as near excellence often is, embarrassing. But Seattle’s secondary needs dudes and it needs dudes badly, because the Seahawks pass defense is bad, and along with special teams, holding a potentially championship caliber team back. Maybe the Seahawks execute a trade. Maybe the return of Jarran Reed—Seattle’s only interior lineman who excels against the run and pass—will be a catalyst for rapid improvement. But, ultimately, members of Seattle’s secondary, young and talented, need to become young and good.

Thompson’s made a leap before. He’s been a fine ballhawk before. Sometimes interceptions are like found money. KJ Wright snagged such an interception, as did Tre Flowers. Nothing wrong with picking up found money, but what Thompson did was the polar opposite. Thompson was a metal detector which unearthed the Boot of Cortez. And, very likely, he provided the edge which won Seattle two very close games. That’s a good start. That’s a damn good start. Now he has to never stop.

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