Last night at Joey restaurant in Bellevue during Seahawks Weekly, host Brock Huard posed the question: "Is this Seahawks defense the most physical defense ever?"
I was part of a very good defense in 1992 that featured NFL Defensive Player of the Year Cortez Kennedy. Along with safety Kenny Easley, I'd argue Tez was the most dominant defensive player in Seahawks history.
There have been some greats on the defensive side of the ball here in Seattle like Jacob Green, Michael Sinclair, Dave Brown and Joe Nash. But when it comes to physical players - guys that will bloody your nose - we may be looking at the most physical Seahawks defense ever right now.
Four players come to mind when I think about defenders that play to punish their opponents:
The Heater - they don't call David Hawthorne "The Heater" for nothing. It's an appropriate nickname and high praise considering it was given to him by another legendary Seahawks defender: Lofa Tatupu*.
When Hawthorne intersects a ball carrier, you can expect a car crash. He burst onto the scene during a pre-season game in Minnesota during his rookie year. On a sweep play he blew up Vikings running back Chester Taylor, forcing both a fumble and his way onto the roster for good. The Heater has caused more car accidents on the field than a text-happy teenage girl**.
Brandon Browner - I know this is wrong but some of my favorite Brandon Browner plays have been penalties. Early in the Cincinnati game, Browner was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for throwing a receiver to the ground. It was more of an inverted atomic drop or an electric chair driver. Either way, I think we can all agree that wide receivers need to be body slammed occasionally.
In an earlier article I referred to him as contentious. That's what I'm seeing out of his play at cornerback. He contests every move off the line, every turn down-field and every ball that goes into the air. He's physical, nasty and always in a bad mood.
I love this guy.
How many corners in the history of the NFL have been physical enough to get the kind of penalty he got during the Redskins game? He hit a player legally in-bounds, but knocked him so far out-of-bounds that the referees flagged him for unnecessary roughness.
Kam Chancellor - Ten years ago, Chancellor would have had four less penalties than he has now. Every hit he's been flagged for: unnecessary roughness, "defenseless receiver" or whatever ridiculous tag the NFL chooses to put on it, would've been considered nothing short of spectacular in a sane world.
Chancellor's timing, split-second decision making and ferocity is as good as I've seen out of any safety I've ever played with. That list includes Kenny Easley, Eugene Robinson, Nesby Glasgow, Dennis Smith and Steve Atwater.
Chancellor is the perfectly engineered strong safety who plays the run (67 tackles and two forced fumbles) as well as the pass (four interceptions). Flag or no flag, Chancellor is an intimidator. The threat of one of his bone-jarring tackles has discouraged many a quarterback to throw across the middle of the field.
Big Red Bryant - Red Bryant exudes the word physical. He does everything you could ever hope for at his strong-side defensive end position.
He's 6'4", 335 lbs. (at least) and plays the edge as well as anyone I've ever seen. His athletic ability is nothing short of shocking. It's rumored that he can execute a 360 degree, two-handed slam dunk on the basketball court. I was skeptical of that tale until I witnessed him cover a tight end in practice with the man-to-man coverage skills that would put any NFL linebacker to shame.
He has 24 tackles, one sack, an interception and four blocked kicks. Big Red may be the most valuable player on this team and if he doesn't make the Pro Bowl this year it's because the fans and the media aren't paying enough attention. I guarantee you any player or coach who has seen Bryant on film this year, echoes those same sentiments.
Win or lose any team that plays against this defense, knows they are in a fight.
* Some may think it's a little premature to call Lofa Tatupu "legendary". I don't. The plays he made during his rookie year were things most linebackers don't do in their 10th season. It's unfortunate that his body couldn't handle what his brain told him to do.
**Texting and driving is no joke. Don't do it!