The 2019 Seattle Seahawks will be gloriously bound for the playoffs. Don’t let the notions of having the supposed seventh toughest schedule fool you. This is a tough as nails team that doesn’t fret over such things. My lucky thirteenth reason why this team is playoff bound is the epitome of that toughness.
Safety Bradley McDougald.
Why is McDougald primed to help Seattle return to the playoffs?
Just as I stated above, this dude is tough, but this dude is also a really good football player. He’s tough because he played through last year on a partially torn patellar tendon in his knee (good Lord in Heaven). He’s good because he is versatile enough to play free or strong safety, is good in coverage, and is a solid tackler against the run. If it wasn’t for the fact that his predecessors were Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, Seattle fans would probably be a lot higher on this guy, frankly, but alas, we’ve been spoiled by our safety play over the past several years. Regardless, he was a pro-bowl alternate last year, and was clearly one of the few bright spots on what was a pretty average Seattle defense in 2018, at best. I also think that his play is a glimpse of what we might expect in the future, and I like it.
I think the key to displacing the Rams from the top of the NFC West Division is to have a secondary backfield featuring safeties that can play successfully in the box, but also be able to play really soundly in coverage. This is just my hunch, but as I’ve mentioned in some previous pieces, I think the New England Patriots showed a great blue print has to how to defend the Rams passing attack during this last Super Bowl. It requires safeties that can come up and contain on the run but also be able to bail on a dime into zone coverage. New England might have scouted Seattle’s use of McDougald because that was essentially his game against the Rams in 2018, and Seattle might have gleamed from the success New England had against the Rams, and are now going to put even more emphasis on their safety play.
When Seattle drafted Utah safety Marquise Blair in the second round last April, my immediate thought was that he was the replacement for Earl Thomas, but now I’m not quite so sure. Blair is a lot like McDougald in that he plays the run really well but is also rangy in coverage. It’s possible that Blair might have been drafted to eventually take over for McDougald if the team feels that McDougald’s knee situation is perhaps something that is degenerative. Pete Carroll has mentioned a few times that they see Blair as a strong safety.
If Blair has a strong training camp, I think it is entirely possible that Blair does take over for McDougald at strong safety, and McDougald shifts to free safety. This would give safety two safeties that can play very similarly and that could pose more of an issue for Jared Goff and the Rams.
In this scenario, Seattle might essentially abandon some of its more traditional single high look for a more two deep look with both safeties playing some strong and free depending on what they are seeing from the offense. This would give Seattle more flexibility, and they showed this look a bit with McDougald and Tedric Thompson, and then Leno Hill towards the end of the season. It’s interesting that Seattle also drafted Oregon’s Ugo Amadi last April, and he’s very much another player that can also play the run and play coverage.
However it works out, expect Bradley McDougald to be the leader of it, and expect him to continue playing really well. He’s a good ball player.