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Seahawks Film Review: Devon Witherspoon’s NFC Defensive Player of the Week performance

The rookie Seahawks cornerback had a superstar performance against the New York Giants.

Seattle Seahwaks v New York Giants Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks top draft pick, Devon Witherspoon, had a slow start to his pro career. A contract dispute with the team and a hamstring injury forced him to miss most of training camp through Week 1 of the regular season. He had a strong wWeek 2 showing against the Detroit Lions and was more than solid against the Carolina Panthers. Then he broke out on Monday Night Football against the New York Giants. The former Illinois star tallied two sacks, two tackles for loss, three QB hits, seven tackles, and a pick-six for good measure. All of that was enough to earn him NFC Defensive Player of the Week which is already impressive, but when watching the performance it is even more eye popping.

All of the plays broken down are in the one video below:

Play 1 - Sack #1

The timing of Witherspoon’s blitz is what makes this play. If he doesn’t time it with Darius Slayton’s motion and shows it too early, Daniel Jones likely recognizes the blitz and slides the protection to pick up Witherspoon. With the delay though Jones has no chance to pick it up and instead it results in an easy sack.

Play 2 - Tackle for no gain

Witherspoon is almost being used as a sub linebacker here as he’s in the box with Seattle having five DB’s on the field. Off of the snap, the corner stays patient with his eyes in the backfield waiting to see if Jones pulls it for a play-action pass or read-option. Once he recognizes the run he fires down field and beats Darius Slayton to the C gap, where he lays out Gary Brightwell for next to no gain.

Play 3 - Sack #2

This play is all feel and instincts for Witherspoon. The Giants are running, in essence, an option play where Daniel Jones can either hand it off to Brightwell or throw a backwards pass on the swing to Parris Campbell. Witherspoon sees the motion, which allows him to recognize the play and put himself in the perfect position to make it from the start. Most defensive backs likely would have taken a step back in this situation. However, Witherspoon instead sidesteps Slayton, which prevents him from being blocked and allows him to fire down for the massive tackle for loss. Officially this was recorded as a sack because Campbell was looking to throw on this play.

The most impressive part of this play though is the open field tackle from Witherspoon. A majority of cornerbacks likely get stiff armed or juked by Campbell here. But the fifth overall pick is not only able to bring him down, he is also able to prevent any yards after contact.

Play 4 - QB hit

This one goes down as more of an effort play than anything. He once again disguises and times his cat blitz well, but, this time the Giants have Brightwell in for pass pro, which results in Witherspoon getting picked up. Jones though prematurely rolls out of the pocket to the right. This allows for Witherspoon to disengage from Brightwell and pursue Jones from the backside. He comes close to getting another sack, but Jones is able to dump it off a hair before he steps out of bounds.

Play 5 - Interception

The highlight play of the night is made by some truly terrible quarterback play by Daniel Jones. Yes the pick-six is nice for Witherspoon, but Jones stares down Campbell immediately off of the snap which lets the rookie sit the route. Campbell runs a beautiful route which honestly beats Witherspoon as it presents Jones with a window to throw it to the inside. Jones though delivers a poor ball to the outside which goes right into the hands of Witherspoon, who shows off his speed to return it 97 yards to the house.