This past Sunday as the Seahawks played the Jets, there were quite a few highlights mixed with some solid play, yet I couldn't help but notice how one particular young 'Hawk continues to grow with each passing week.
To borrow from a description from Seattle Times writer Jerry Brewer, "He makes you giggle, cringe and pray for the mundane, often in the same game. But when he's at his electric best, it doesn't take much for him to galvanize the limelight."
The truth is that Brewer wasn't describing the player I had in mind at all. In fact, the player that he described was actually Golden Tate.
While it's no doubt true Tate has had quite the flair for the dramatic this season, I tend to believe that second year cornerback Richard Sherman not only possesses that same flair, but could potentially become one of the league's elite players.
This might come as no surprise to Seahawk fans, but for a player that was only getting his first chance to start roughly a year ago after the 'Hawks secondary was decimated by injuries, it's pretty impressive.
Towards the end of last season, Sherman looked like the kind of player who could someday make the leap, but still needed to get his head on straight. This year, Sherman has not only made a name for himself with his "chatter" but backed it up with some truly solid performances.
This Sunday, Sherman intercepted his fourth pass of the season by leaping in front of Jets tight end Dustin Keller. That killed their momentum after recovering a Marshawn Lynch's fumble in what was a tie game early in the second quarter.
Then in the fourth quarter with the 'Hawks leading 21-7, Sherman put a huge nail in the Jets coffin by recording his first professional sack while simultaneously stripping Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez.
Eventually this turnover led to Tate's touchdown pass to Sidney Rice. That helped cap off his big day, but in the end it was Sherman who was named the NFC's Defensive Player of the Week, as the seattlepi.com's Nick Eaton reported on Wednesday.
For the Jets, it had to be frustrating yet oddly familiar to see a cornerback single-handedly inflict that much damage in one day and affect the outcome of games. Darrelle Revis, arguably the NFL's best corner going into this season, had that game-changing ability, and you could argue the Jets haven't been the same ever since he was lost for the season at Miami in Week 3.
Fortunately, the 'Hawks defense is built more as a collective with each unit capably pulling their weight, but we all know that the secondary is the best unit with starers Earl Thomas, Brandon Browner and Kam Chancellor playing alongside Sherman.
Is Sherman the best of the bunch?
That depends on your perspective. Each starter brings a unique skill-set that makes the "Legion of Boom" more than a catchy nickname—whether it's size, speed, strength, agility, hands or an unholy mix in some cases.
Yet prior to this season, I still had Earl Thomas a step ahead of everyone else in this group based on his experience, pedigree and raw speed. Thomas is still very much on course to be a Pro Bowl safety once again this year and hopefully for many more to come, but you could argue that Sherman has already caught up to him.
This may sound silly on some level given the two players are different in so many ways, not to mention that they play different positions, but to the naked eye Sherman seems to have the play-making ability that in time could put him on par with Revis.
In only his second year at 6'3" and 195 pounds, it certainly makes you contemplate the possibilities.
My suggestion for now: enjoy every minute of watching Sherman as teams continue to challenge him with the belief his bark is worse than his bite. The sad truth about elite corners is that once they cement their Pro Bowl status it almost becomes boring to watch teams avoid their side of the field. Fortunately, through 10 games this season, it would seem that opponents have yet to catch on, especially given Sherman already has defended 14 passes in addition to his four interceptions and 39 tackles.
Whether or not teams adjust to Sherman remains to be seen, but for the moment I'm looking forward to seeing how he can contribute in the coming weeks as the 'Hawks gear up for a playoff run. It will certainly be tough to top this week's combo strip/sack and a goal-line pick, but for a guy that keeps exceeding expectations, why not keep hope for something even bigger and better?
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