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Seahawks’ cornerbacks may have gone from concern to strength

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I have written a handful of articles about Seattle’s cornerbacks this year. The most recent one was almost exactly a month ago. Now seems like a good time for another checkup - especially with the division-leading Cardinals coming to town on Sunday.

Let’s start with the 3 corners that started the game in Green Bay. How did D.J. Reed (RCB), Tre Brown (LCB), and Ugo Amadi (SCB) do against the Packers?

Answer: Pretty darn good. With a couple of asterisks.

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D.J. Reed played 74 total snaps, 43 of them in coverage. He was the closest defender on 4 of Aaron Rodgers’ passes. He had a pass breakup and allowed only 1 reception.

Here’s our first asterisk.

That one reception was a 41-yard catch-and-run by Marquez Valdes-Scantling on the third play of the game, and it moved the ball from Green Bay’s 39 to Seattle’s 20. Fortunately, the Packers didn’t get any points on that drive so ... no harm, no foul (so to speak).

Reed played lights-out after that.

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Tre Brown matched D.J. Reed snap-for-snap; 74 total, 43 in coverage. He was targeted twice. Neither of those passes were caught. For the game, he allowed zero yards. Oh, and he forced a turnover on downs with this beautiful, BEAUTIFUL play.

Not too bad for a 4th-round pick, eh?

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Ugo Amadi is the second asterisk.

Calling a player an asterisk sounds sort of harsh, I know. But it’s supposed to.

Let’s ignore his stat-line for a moment and first talk about the 3rd and 7 play that resulted in an incompletion and would have forced the Packers to punt the ball with just under 5 minutes left in the first half ...

... if only Mr. Amadi hadn’t been flagged for defensive holding.

The very next play, Amadi gave up an 8-yard reception to Randall Cobb. Three plays later, he gave up a 6-yard catch to Allen Lazard.

In between those 2 completions, the refs determined that it’s simultaneous possession if a defender is laying on top of a fumble with both arms wrapped around it and Aaron Rodgers reaches in and puts his hand on the ball. (I’m still scratching my head on that one.)

Fortunately, Green Bay didn’t make Seattle pay for Amadi’s error(s) by putting points on the board. We have Tre Brown to thank for that though because the “beautiful, BEAUTIFUL play” that I linked to above ... it came on that drive.

Unfortunately, instead of Seattle getting the ball back with 4:47 left in the half (as they would have sans the Amadi penalty), they got it back with 1:03 on the clock.

C’est la vie; wasn’t meant to be.

NOW let’s talk about Ugo Amadi’s stat line in Green Bay ...

  • Targeted 7 times
  • Allowed 7 receptions
  • Gave up 65 yards (45 yards after the catch)
  • 105.4 quarterback rating allowed

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Note: Sidney Jones didn’t play any defensive snaps against the Packers but we’ll talk about him in the next section.


Rewind a few weeks

I wrote my last cornerback piece after the Pittsburgh game. Seattle has faced the Saints, the Jaguars, and the Packers since then.

We talked about the Packers game already so how about the other two matchups? How did our cornerbacks do against the Saints and the Jaguars?

D.J. Reed:

  • Vs. Saints: 45 coverage snaps; targeted twice; gave up 1 catch for 8 yards; 60.4 passer rating against
  • Vs. Jaguars: 36 coverage snaps; targeted twice; 1 catch; 7 yards; 58.3 passer rating

Tre Brown:

  • Vs. Saints: 29 coverage snaps, targeted 4 times; gave up 3 catches for 28 yards (long of 14); passer rating against was 93.8
  • Vs. Jaguars: 53 coverage snaps; targeted 5 times; 2 catches for 7 yards; passer rating of 47.9

Sidney Jones:

  • Vs. Saints: 16 coverage snaps, 1 reception allowed on 4 targets; 15 yards; 1 pass breakup; 42.7 passer rating against
  • Vs. Jaguars: 27 coverage snaps; targeted 6 times; allowed 4 receptions for 37 yards (long of 13); 2 pass breakups; passer rating against of 83.3

Ugo Amadi:

  • Vs. Saints: 20 coverage snaps; allowed 1 catch on 1 target for 11 yards and a passer rating of 112.5
  • Vs. Jaguars: 48 coverage snaps; targeted 12 times; allowed 10 receptions for 65 yards; had 1 pass breakup and allowed a passer rating against of 89.2

Add it up

Saints + Jaguars + Packers

  • Reed: 124 coverage snaps; 7 targets; 3 receptions; 56 yards (long of 41); 1 pass breakup; passer rating of 71.1
  • Brown: 125 coverage snaps; 11 targets; 5 receptions; 35 yards (long of 14); 1 pass breakup; passer rating of 53.2
  • Jones: 43 coverage snaps; 10 targets; 5 receptions; 52 yards (long of 15); 3 pass breakups; passer rating of 65.4
  • Amadi: 98 coverage snaps; 20 targets; 18 receptions; 141 yards (long of 34); 1 pass breakup; passer rating of 96.0
  • Combined: 390 coverage snaps; 48 targets; 31 receptions; 284 yards (long of 41); 6 pass breakups; 0 touchdowns; 0 interceptions; passer rating against of 80.6
  • Just the Outside Corners: 292 coverage snaps; 28 targets; 13 receptions; 143 yards; 5 pass breakups; 0 TDs; 0 INTs; passer rating against of 62.1

Focus on Amadi

Mr. Amadi hasn’t been included in my CB reviews up to this point. And he isn’t likely to be included in the future. Why? Because I’ve mostly focused on our outside corners. And because Amadi is who he is and that’s not likely to change.

Doubt that?

His numbers for the last 3 games are detailed above. His numbers for the first 6 games are below. Tell me they’re not like looking in a mirror.

  • 121 coverage snaps
  • 19 targets
  • 15 receptions
  • 130 yards
  • 1 touchdown
  • 0 INTs + 0 PBUs

His quarterback rating against was 112.7 heading into the Saints game but, minus the one touchdown he allowed, it would be 95.2 - as a reminder, it’s been 96.0 the past 3 games.

Let’s go back further though ...

2020:

  • 447 coverage snaps
  • 60 targets
  • 45 receptions
  • 426 yards
  • 0 touchdowns
  • 0 INTS + 6 PBUs
  • Passer rating against: 94.2

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Now, it might seem like I’m singling Amadi out (I am) and saying that he’s a bad corner (I’m not). He didn’t have a great game against the Packers but, overall ....

I think that slot corner is a damn hard job. And I think that Mr. Amadi is pretty darn good at that job ... the occasional defensive holding call and high completion rates notwithstanding. His career passer rating against is 99.6 and the touchdown he gave up this year (vs. the Niners) ... it’s the only one he’s given up in his career (2-1/2 seasons; 754 total coverage snaps).

Bottom line: Dude’s a baller.


Final thoughts

Someone will undoubtedly point out that the Saints, Jaguars, and Packers aren’t exactly the best measuring stick for our cornerbacks.

And they’d have a point.

From a yards-per-game perspective, the Packers currently rank 19th out of the 32 teams. The Jaguars rank 24th and the Saints are next-to-last.

But ...

The Seahawks don’t get to choose who they play and, even more to the point, this is where their remaining opponents currently rank in passing yards per game:

Strip out Seattle’s division rivals (who would be tough matchups even if they were ranked in the bottom 5) and what are you left with?

Washington (20th), Detroit (25th), Houston (29th), and Chicago (32nd).

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It’s worth noting that Tre Brown didn’t play against either the 49ers or the Rams earlier this year.

D.J. Reed did though.

Between those 2 games, Reed played 88 coverage snaps, was targeted 12 times, gave up 5 catches for 71 yards, and had a passer rating against of 61.5.

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Yes, I was trying to ignore the fact that Sidney Jones played in both of the games against our division rivals. But it’s sure to be brought up in the comments so here are his combined stat lines:

  • Bad plays: 2 coverage snaps; 2 targets; 2 catches; 144 yards (long of 76); 1 touchdown
  • Good(ish) plays: 86 snaps; 12 targets; 9 catches; 126 yards; 1 touchdown; 1 pass breakup

Obviously neither stat line is great, but Seattle could probably live with the second one. I mean, y’all do remember Tre Flowers and how he typically performed against our division rivals (and against everyone in general).

Also, in Sidney’s defense, those were his first 2 games with the Seahawks and he has done MUCH better since then (64 coverage snaps; 13 targets; 7 catches; 69 years; 0 TDs; 3 PBUs).

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Bottom line: Seattle’s outside corners were arguably the team’s biggest concern when the season started. Now? Not so much. One might even argue that they have become one of the team’s strengths. Who woulda thunk it?

Go Hawks!