Slowing Olsen in rematch tops checklist for Seahawks' Legion of Boom
The one constant for the Seattle Seahawks over the past four seasons has been the superb play of their secondary, better known as the Legion of Boom.
While there has been some mild turnover among the unit, the anchors remain cornerback Richard Sherman and safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, who have piled up a slew of All-Pro and Pro Bowl selections while helping the Seahawks advance to back-to-back Super Bowls.
Seattle's defense again played a pivotal role in this season's march to the playoffs, leading the league in fewest points allowed for a fourth consecutive season. Yet the impressive numbers have masked a trouble spot in the secondary - specifically an inability to contain opposing tight ends.
That's the territory of Thomas and Chancellor, who will be under the microscope Sunday as they face the top-seeded Carolina Panthers and their leading receiver, tight end Greg Olsen.
The Seahawks were scorched by Olsen in Carolina's 27-23 victory at Seattle in Week 6. The Pro Bowl tight end had seven receptions for 131 yards and the winning touchdown pass in the final minute on a blown coverage by the Legion of Boom.
How important is #Seahawks' Thomas, Chancellor vs CAR TE Olsen Sunday: "Whether he's covered or not, the ball's going there"--DC Richard— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) January 14, 2016
“There was no excuse for what happened right there,” Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard told reporters Thursday while noting he doesn't expect Carolina to deviate from featuring Olsen. "Whether he's covered or not, the ball's going there."
Olsen was not the only player at his position to have his way against Seattle's defense, which surrendered 75 catches for 873 yards and eight touchdowns to opposing tight ends. Cincinnati's Tyler Eifert also had a monster game against the Seahawks, as have lower-tier tight ends such as San Francisco's Vance McDonald, Minnesota's Kyle Rudolph and St. Louis' Jared Cook.
“It’s not a big deal,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said of the season-long trend. “Somebody’s going to catch the football. We’re a big zone team and guys are going to get the ball. We don’t want anybody to overwork us, but sometimes they do.”