#3 – Richard Sherman

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I got into this a little bit in the Earl Thomas post, but the fact remains that there’s a pretty steep drop-off from Sherman to the next guy who’d start for him if he got injured.  Essentially, it’s Tharold Simon.  I know Jeremy Lane has been around longer, but he’s going to be our nickel guy.  And you’re not going to flip Byron Maxwell over to the other side, because he’s comfortable right where he is.  For the defense they play, it only makes sense for Simon to be the next man up.

And, don’t get me wrong, this isn’t an “I Hate Tharold Simon” post.  He had that interception return for a touchdown last week that was called back by a bogus penalty the NFL actually CONFIRMED was bogus.  But, you know, the kid’s young.  He didn’t play at all last year, so really it’s almost like he’s a rookie all over again.  Granted, he’s a rookie who knows the whole playbook coming into camp, but that’s neither here nor there.  I’d need to see him in live action in the regular season before I could fully trust him replacing the greatest cornerback alive.

And that’s who Richard Sherman is.  The Greatest Cornerback Alive.  He was great a couple years ago, talked a bunch of shit, welcomed the attention he received – when everyone was scared that it was going to expose him and make opposing receivers try harder – and he STILL came back last year and dominated the game.  Richard Sherman is a rare talent and a rare breed of person who transcends the game.  To talk trash, yet be articulate.  To be funny, yet thought-provoking.  To be SO GOOD at the game of football, and yet make it look SO EASY.

I have no criticisms about his game.  I know others do, and that’s their right.  Some people think, to be among the top cornerbacks in the game, you have to play all over the field and shadow the other team’s best receiver.  I disagree.  If that’s your game, more power to you, but I just like knowing that one third of the field is completely shut down on every play.  Think about that!  He’s not following your #1 receiver all over, so really, you could stick just about anybody out wide and make it a long, boring day for Sherm.  Nevertheless, he was STILL able to have one of the most productive seasons any cornerback has ever had!  What’s more, his first three seasons in the league have him already on a Hall of Fame pace!

Normally, you’d think that if the other team has a guy who locks down one side of the field, you just wouldn’t throw that way.  In 2011, Sherman got his feet wet, but he quickly showed an adeptness at this position.  Seahawks fans everywhere knew to expect big things out of his 2012.  Indeed, it came to pass, he was already among the top corners in the game by season’s end.  You’d THINK, going into 2013, he just wouldn’t see any plays his way.  But, he managed to match his 2012 total in interceptions, while single-handedly getting us back in that Houston game we’d eventually win in overtime.

Is THIS the year where quarterbacks finally learn their lessons?  If the pre-season games are any indication, then maybe.  He certainly has been avoided like the plague when he’s been on the field.  But, I have my doubts.  The NFL is full of alpha males who think they can do anything and everything.  That includes challenging the best cornerback in the game.  To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best and whatnot.

Here’s what I know:  with Richard Sherman on the field, the other teams only have 2/3 of a field to work with.  Considering the talent around Richard Sherman, that’s pretty scary for opposing offenses.

There’s a lot to be said for Earl Thomas being the glue that holds this defense together.  The cornerbacks are able to do what they do, because they know they’ve got a guy in Earl Thomas who has their backs.  But, did anyone stop to consider that Earl Thomas is able to do what HE does because he’s got someone he can trust to his left in Richard Sherman?  Since Thomas doesn’t have to worry about Sherm’s side, he’s free to fly around and attack the ball.

It’s really a symbiotic relationship, but one where both parties benefit equally from the other’s presence.  Both of these guys signed long-term extensions in the offseason, which is a beauty to behold.  Because I don’t want to know what life is like without them, and it’s impossible to choose one over the other.

All I know is, they’re here now, we’re winning, and that’s all that matters.

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