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UHPOG, Week 6: When D.J. Reeds the ball, QBs weep

The right side of the defensive backfield is solved (and maybe the left side too??)

Seattle Seahawks v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Have the Seahawks... found their corners?

I don’t want to make this post about Tre Brown, but the rookie impressed in his first real NFL action, which leads me to believe the Seahawks... have found their corners.

It took them long enough, and the questionable process may or may not cost them a playoff berth in this most volatile of volatile seasons. But with the emergence of D.J. Reed as a definitely-better-than-average cornerback, it’s possible the Seahawks defensive backfield will soon return to being a strength of the team, rather than a liability.

Reed wasn’t just good in the losing* effort in Pittsburgh. He’s been muy bueno for three weeks running now, and it’s only fitting that on a day everyone is raving about Brown, stark raving mad at Jamal Adams (again? get a new schtick), and generally satisfied with the steady intimidative play of Quandre Diggs, that Reed receive the highest honor in the land, that of UHPOG.**

** What’s UHPOG? Un Heralded Player Of the Game

* that game felt very lost twice, almost won twice, and should’ve ended in a tie, for the chaos factor alone

With two deflections and a phantom third breakup (the best of the three honestly), Reed was the chief disruptor in the Seahawks secondary. To the pretty pictures:

Reed really was all over the field on the opening two drives. He made the first tackle of the game, swatted away the first deep pass, and teamed with Bobby Wagner to end the second drive with satisfying awareness. We have footage of the deflection, and it is exquisite:

Fast-forward a few minutes, to the part where Seattle trails 7-0 and the hosts are thinking of adding on right before halftime. It’s third down and Reed dials up his most athletic play of the night.

Unfortunately an offsides call negates the play and the Steelers punch it in a few plays later. But in a game that ended up reaching overtime, Reed’s effort could’ve easily saved four points.

Just for good measure, Roethlisberger tests the Seahawks cornerback again. In case Reed suddenly stopped being good, you know.

He didn’t suddenly stop being good. Seattle has cut the lead to three and needs a stop. It’s third down. The fourth quarter approaches.

As teased earlier, Reed doesn’t get the UHPOG nod just for a couple nice plays on Sunday night, but for an increasingly impressive body of (recent) work.

Week 4 vs. SF: 1 completion on 3 targets, for 8 yards

Week 5 vs. LAR: 4 completions on 8 targets, for 53 yards

Recall that this is during the 450-plus yards given up streak by the Seattle defense.

For what it’s worth, which is a little more than nothing and a little less than something, the PFF grading system likes Reed well enough. In 2020 he graded out at 73.1 and in 2021, he sits at 67.0, having allowed only 19 completions on 36 targets. He passes the eye test, and then some.

While we await final numbers from the Steelers game, Reed has allowed a total of seven yards after the catch and a passer rating of 63.1 since the Minnesota game, where he was charged with two touchdowns on his watch. He’s been lockdown, without the interceptions you’d like to see, but with everything else.

(By the way, Seahawks, whenever you want to convert these tipped passes and airmailed throws into picks, you just go right ahead.)

Fun fact: most of us recall that the 49ers waived Reed in August 2020, during training camp, and the Seahawks snapped him up. What fewer know is the Dallas Cowboys also held his rights, chronologically right between San Francisco and Seattle. That’s all. Just a fun fact.

Reed stands out as yet another example of how for all their high-profile misses in drafting, Pete Carroll and John Schneider are adept at eventually turning cast-offs into quality starters. You got Reed off waivers and Diggs for a fifth-rounder. Tre Flowers, Ahkello Witherspoon and Sidney Jones were all cheap, so if you strike out on all three — please be okay though Sid — Reed’s success cancels out any failure. You don’t need 12 outside starting cornerbacks. You need two. I called the process questionable at the top of the post because it took them long enough. (And they might’ve been dissuaded by Reed’s 5-foot-9 frame, even though they should know better by now.) Well, if it requires cycling through a dozen corners to get there, so be it. As long as you get there.

And the Seahawks have maybe reached the proverbial there. Not a game too soon, either.

P.S. You knew I had the Tre Brown hit in my back pocket. Why not? He and Reed are the present and the future.