When the 2021 league year began in mid-March, most of us knew that outside corner was going to be a pain point for the Seahawks this season. I’m not sure we really comprehended the extent of it though.
Let’s hit the rewind button.
Only one of those initial seven, plus Tre Brown, remain on the roster. And Tre Brown didn’t make his NFL debut until last Sunday.
So what happened to the other six outside corners?
I’m glad you asked!
Where are they now? - Cornerback-style
Let’s start with Tre Flowers. He has the distinction of being the only outside corner other than D.J. Reed and Tre Brown to make the initial 53-man roster and take snaps for us in a regular season game.
Much to the chagrin of most 12s, he was even named a starter. For 3 whole games.
In those 3 games, Flowers allowed a passer rating of 139.6 by giving up 14 receptions on 16 targets for 208 yards and a touchdown.
He didn’t see the field in Weeks 4 or 5 and was released prior to Seattle’s Week 6 game against the Stealers. The Bengals claimed him off waivers after 20 other teams said, “No thank you” (for any number of reasons).
We all wish him well - even those of us who celebrated his release.
Next up, we have Ahkello Witherspoon.
Seattle signed the ‘Spoon-man to a fully-guaranteed $4M one-year contract in free agency and then shipped him to the Stealers 5-1/2 months later for a 5th round pick ... 2 years from now.
At the end of the day, it cost Seattle $2.5M to “kick the tires” and decide they were better off without him.
So, how has he done in Pittsburgh?
Well, let’s just say that Seattle may have actually gotten the better end of things ... at least so far. Witherspoon has played a total of 4 defensive snaps through the first 6 weeks of the season. He was targeted once on those 4 snaps and he gave up a 61-yard touchdown. Ouch!
Pierre Desir was released in the second round of roster cuts and landed in Tampa Bay. So far this season, he has appeared in 2 games and has 32 defensive snaps. He has allowed 3 catches on 3 targets for 35 yards.
Gavin Heslop is the last player from our offseason cornerback list. He made it all the way to the final cuts, but was released on August 31st. He was signed to Seattle’s practice squad the next day (and remains there still).
That’s pretty sobering, right?
It gets better.
And I’m only being slightly facetious when I say that.
Last men standing
Seattle’s rookie outside corner spent the first 5 weeks of the season on Injured Reserve.
We will get back to him in a minute.
D.J. Reed, the other “survivor” from the offseason roster, spent essentially all of training camp on the sidelines nursing an injury. Not ideal.
Reed then started at left cornerback the first 3 games and ... he didn’t do so well.
Thankfully, Seattle’s coaching staff moved Reed to his natural position at right cornerback the same time they pulled Tre Flowers from the starting lineup.
Reed has allowed 9 receptions on 20 targets the past 3 games for 122 yards. No TDs allowed. 3 pass-breakups. Zero penalties. His passer rating against is 65.0.
That is exactly what Seattle needed at RCB.
Unfortunately, Sidney Jones, Reed’s replacement on the left side, didn’t fare too well his first 2 games in the starting lineup. He gave up a 76-yard touchdown on a busted coverage in Week 4 and got burned for a 68-yard catch-and-run in Week 5. All totaled, he gave up 11 receptions on 14 targets those 2 games for 270 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Both of the big plays were due to “correctable errors” though. Take them away, and Jones allowed 9 receptions on 12 targets for 126 yards and 1 touchdown which ... isn’t terrible. Especially when you consider that Seattle acquired him from Jacksonville for a 6th-round pick in next year’s draft.
Jones was actually doing great in his 3rd start, last Sunday in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, he only played 33 defensive snaps before leaving the game with a chest injury. Up to that point though, he had allowed 2 catches on 3 targets for a mere 7 yards.
Now let’s talk about the rookie corner ...
To the delight of 12s around the world, Tre Brown did exceedingly well in place of Jones - including the handful of snaps he took before Jones was injured.
How well did Brown do?
Our own Stan Taylor said Tre Brown made “a statement” in his debut. PFF shows that Brown played 24 coverage snaps, was targeted 5 times, and only allowed 2 catches for 9 yards. He also had a helluva play on 3rd down in the overtime period.
One game isn’t enough to say that Seattle has “solved” their cornerback problem.
If Reed and Brown can stay healthy.
And if Seattle’s coaches can find it in themselves to “trust” their undersized “sticky” corners to make smart plays (rather than forcing them to play in a dumb-ass scheme).
Things might just turn out okay.