Seattle Seahawks rookie cornerback Devon Witherspoon continued his outstanding season on Sunday against the Washington Commanders. The former Illinois star tallied 5 tackles, 3 passes defensed, and his first career forced fumble. It wasn’t as great as his 2-sack, 97-yard pick-6 game that he had against the New York Giants earlier this year, but this was arguably the second best game of his season. Down below we are going to break down some of the plays that made it such a highlight game for the No. 5 overall pick.
Pass breakup on Terry McLaurin
I'm really surprised Devon Witherspoon didn't pick this pass off with the jump he got on it... pic.twitter.com/aGXE4hFRyW— Corbin K. Smith (@CorbinSmithNFL) November 14, 2023
On this play the Seahawks are in Cover 3 with Witherspoon playing soft coverage at the bottom of the screen. He is playing with extreme outside leverage, largely in part because of the help he has to the inside. This helps Witherspoon keep his eyes in on Sam Howell whilst keeping tabs on Terry McLaurin throughout the entirety of the play. As Witherspoon gains depth, he is very athletic in his pedal and his feet don’t cross, which allows him to quickly react to any spot in front of him. Once he recognizes the deep curl he triggers up field and registers the pass breakup. This could’ve been an interception for the rookie, but the contact at the catch point likely prevented him from hauling it in.
Forced fumble on Sam Howell
Pete Carroll spoke last week about Riq Woolen trying to go for fumble at wrong time in Baltimore.— Corbin K. Smith (@CorbinSmithNFL) November 14, 2023
Devon Witherspoon picks the perfect time to go for the strip and executes against Sam Howell. pic.twitter.com/0RAeu5R4R0
This is an extremely smart play by Witherspoon. Far too often defenders try to go for the strip when they are the only player engaged with the ball carrier. At the beginning of the play, when Witherspoon is the only player with hands on Howell, he tries to stay engaged with him despite his body being in an awkward position. He gets carried a few more yards up the field before Quandre Diggs get involved in the play. Then once the safety starts bringing Howell to the ground, Witherspoon goes for the rip and forces the fumble, which Riq Woolen recovers.
Pass breakup on Curtis Samuel (0:18 of video)
Devon Witherspoon Week 10 Highlights All-22 View Seattle Seahawks vs Washington Commanders NFL 2023— NFL Study (@NFLStudy) November 16, 2023
Witherspoon had 5 tackles (4 solo), 3 PD and 1 FF.#Football #nflfootball #fantasyfootball #highlights #Pete #Carroll #PNW #Hawks #12thman #illinois #nfldraft #DROY #Sam #Howell pic.twitter.com/n73911IjJw
Seattle is in Cover 1 rat (safety takes a deep middle and the linebacker is the hook zone defender) on this play with Witherspoon in man on Curtis Samuel. Off of the snap, Witherspoon takes two drop steps in part to help him navigate traffic over the middle of the field. Instead of running something across the middle, Samuel runs a simple over ball route. Witherspoon is able to quickly recognize the route and once again triggers up field fast enough for another pass breakup.
Witherspoon is a strong contender to win Defensive Rookie of the Year, and he continues to showcase why the Seahawks were eager to select him.