Seattle’s new defense looks nothing like the ‘Legion of Boom’

The Seattle Seahawks have moved on from the "Legion of Boom" era. The Seahawks came up flat-footed against the Los Angeles Chargers by the score of 24-14 in 2018 preseason action at StubHub Center in Carson, California. Photo by Steven Baffo for News4usonline

CARSON, CA-The “Legion of Boom” is a thing of the past for the Seattle Seahawks. That era is done and over with. At least it seems that way. When the Seahawks defense trotted out onto the field at StubHub Center to take on Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers in their second 2018 preseason game, the usual faces that Seattle fans have come to love are no longer roaming the sidelines.

Unfortunately, that’s the harsh reality of NFL life. For a rookie or for an NFL veteran, that reality is that you can be here one moment and then gone the next. Trades, salary cap issues, disgruntled employees, and injuries can play a part in all of that. This is sort of what happened to arguably the greatest defensive unit since the 1985 Chicago Bears.

The Seahawks’ famed “Legion of Boom” defense has been cracked and shelved permanently. All-World cornerback Richard Sherman is gone. Defensive end Michael Bennett was shipped off to the Philadelphia Eagles. All-Pro Safety Earl Thomas is looking like he won’t be coming back to play another down for the Seahawks as he continues his holdout for a better contract.

The Seattle Seahawks have taken a more offensive-minded approach to beating teams these days, relying more on the scrambling abilities of quarterback Russell Wilson rather than depend on their signature defense. Photo by Steven Baffo for News4usonline

The “Enforcer,” strong safety Kam Chancellor announced his retirement from the game of football, courtesy of a lingering neck injury. And for that matter, life beyond running back Marshawn Lynch, who now suits up for the Oakland Raiders, must carry on. So, will the Seahawks. They really don’t have a choice, do they? No, I think not. However, the Seahawks have an identity problem.

For the greater part of the last 5-6 years, Seattle has been identified as a run-control offense with a staggering defense that didn’t leave anything on the table. The “Legion of Boom” brought a physical presence to the field that rocked opponents into the next world. Today, the Seahawks find themselves navigating away from the “Legion of Boom” unto a more offensive-minded approach to beating teams these days.

“I really like what we are doing,” Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson said. “I think [Offensive Line] Coach Mike Solari is doing a great job with the offensive line. I think [Quarterbacks] Coach [Dave] Canales and I are dialing up on the plays. You saw how fast we were moving up the ball up and down the field. You talk about one play here and one play there the score would have been 21-7 against a really good football team. That is what we look forward to, our energy at practice, our tempo at practice and how much we are executing. We have so much depth on the offensive side of the ball in term of receivers, running backs and guys stepping in. I feel confident in who we have.”

Like anything in life, it’s called the next man up mentality. You go with what you’ve got. In sports that adage holds true probably more than anywhere else. That’s because team sports require teammates to depend on another for overall success of that entity. The Seahawks fit into this category. Since his arrival to Seattle, Carroll’s ballclub has been built on several intangibles that hold the fabric of their team together.

Getting after the quarterback is something that the Seattle Seahawks defense has been known to do pretty well in the last few seasons under the guise of the “Legion of Boom.” The Seahawks defensive front puts pressure on quarterback Geno Smith in the Los Angeles Chargers’ 24-14 win at StubHub Center on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018. Photo by Steven Baffo for News4usonline

That would be running the football, playing lights out on defense with fast, physical specimen, creating turnovers and winning special teams battles. Carroll’s formula has worked up until this point. Since 2010, the Seahawks have posted a 50-11 record when they’ve won the turnover battle.

During that span, Seattle has recorded 192 (120 interceptions) takeaways, second behind New England. How formidable have the Seahawks been under Carroll? Well, for starters, Seattle has posted a 70-33-1 mark in their last 104 games. Their home record since 2002 is 89-39, a statistical feat that ranks Seattle right behind the Green Bay Packers (89-38-1) in that category.

Carroll’s teams also have a knack for theatrics. Take a look at the number of games locked in primetime where the Seahawks have had overwhelming success since 2010. In 27 games, the Seahawks are 22-4-1. During this time, Seattle outscored its opponents 704-376. That’s no coincidence. There’s no shock over here because Carroll’s “Legion of Boom” defense was being carefully constructed.

As a result, Carroll enjoyed the fruits of his work as he watched Chancellor, Thomas and Sherman knock the snot out of opponents on their way to Super Bowl appearances. But then came Super Bowl XLIX, where Seattle forgot to give the ball to Lynch at the 1-yard line with 26 ticks left in the game and wound up losing to the Patriots, 28-24. The Seahawks haven’t been right since.

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver J.J. Jones (89) hits the hole on his way to a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018. Photo by Steven Baffo for News4usonline

Seattle failed to make it to the playoffs last season as Carroll and the team seemed like a divided nation. The damage has been done. That mojo that the Seahawks put on full display against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII is now missing in action.

The Seahawks used to walk in a stadium with a kind of Mike Tyson swagger, ready to throw down at any time with anyone. The Seahawks were bold, fast and physical. Now they don’t scare anybody, at least not in the way that they used to put fear into the opposition.

Playing smashmouth football was Seattle’s claim to fame. Nowadays, you don’t know what you’re going to get from the Seahawks. The “Legion of Boom” was once the team’s identity. Today, it’s the scrambling Wilson and his weekly Fran Tarkenton impersonation that has taken over the leadership mantle for the Seahawks. The Seahawks are young, so we’ll see how they’ll match up with their predecessors.

Looking closely at Seattle’s first-team unit matching up against the Chargers at StubHub Center, it was very clear that Seahawks are not the force they once were. On the team’s first offensive series of the game, Rivers exploited that fact by driving the Chargers down the field effortlessly on the way to putting up seven points on the scoreboard. The Chargers came up as 24-14 winners on the night.

Carroll’s impression of his defensive unit’s performance, particularly on that first drive, was that the Seahawks made things a bit too comfortable for Rivers and Co.

“My impression was [Chargers QB] Philip [Rivers] had us a couple of times. We didn’t do much to disguise it. We were playing pretty straight. He knew what he was going against. He did a great job. He plays against our defense every day. We made it a little too easy for him. He really picked us apart with a couple things he did and then we said, ‘Okay, Philip is for real, we’re in trouble.’ Also, we moved around and disguised some things and slowed it down. I think the first drive was great for them. I think we got out executed there and then we came right back and slowed it down.”

Dennis J. Freeman
About Dennis J. Freeman 1287 Articles
Dennis is a news and sports photojournalist. Dennis has covered and written on issues such as civil rights, education, politics, and social justice. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Daily Breeze, Daily Press, Los Angeles Wave, Los Angeles Sentinel, and other media outlets. Dennis is currently the editor and publisher of News4usonline. He covers the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, and NCAA. Dennis is an alum and graduate of Howard University.