The Seattle Seahawks may have won their Thursday Night Football encounter against the Arizona Cardinals, but that victory came at a cost.
Seattle beat Arizona 22-16 last Thursday to improve its record to 6-3 and remain right in the thick of the NFC playoff picture. However, the Seahawks lost All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman to a ruptured Achilles, an injury that will force him to miss the remainder of the season.
Sherman has been a central figure in a Seattle defense that’s been the NFLs best over the past six seasons. The two-time first-team All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowler has 32 career interceptions, which is tied for fourth in franchise history. He’s also been incredibly durable, as he hadn’t missed a single game in his seven-year NFL career.
But perhaps more importantly, Sherman effectively eliminates one-third of the field for the opposition passing game as quarterbacks rarely test the section Sherman patrols at his left-cornerback position. And then there’s this:
Lowest passer rating when throwing into a cornerbacks coverage since 2011(min. 2000 coverage snaps)
— Nathan Jahnke (@PFF_NateJahnke) November 10, 2017
So how will Sherman’s absence affect the Seahawks? First, it’s going to put a lot of pressure on Seattle’s other cornerbacks. Jeremy Lane’s aborted trade to Houston is looking like a stroke of good luck for the Seahawks now as he’ll likely be the first candidate to step in at left cornerback. It also means more pressure on rookie right cornerback Shaquill Griffin and nickel cornerback Justin Coleman. There’s the possibility that DeShawn Shead, the starter at right cornerback last year who suffered a season-ending knee injury, may be activated from the physically-unable-to-perform list soon, and that could help ease the loss of Sherman. There’s even been talk of the Seahawks bringing back former Legion of Boom member Byron Maxwell, who’s currently without a team. So there are options.
But are they good enough options? We saw last year how much a difference the loss of All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas made to Seattle’s defense. Yes, cornerback is a different position than free safety, but the loss of an All-Pro in the secondary can’t be discounted, no matter what the position.
And Seattle isn’t in a position where it can afford much of a dropoff in its play. While the Seahawks are 6-3 and currently in playoff position, their position isn’t secure. Seattle remains a game behind the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC West, meaning the Seahawks are currently in a wild-card spot, and there’s a whole host of teams just one game back.
Seattle’s upcoming schedule is no cakewalk, either. The Seahawks’ next six opponents include the defending NFC-champion Atlanta Falcons (5-4), the NFL-leading Philadelphia Eagles (8-1), the AFC South-leading Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3), the Rams (7-2) and the defending NFC East-champion Dallas Cowboys (5-4). Any slippage there could see Seattle fall out of the playoffs.
So what is Sherman’s absence going to mean for the Seahawks? Make your prediction here: