Monday night at MetLife Stadium, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Devon Witherspoon jumped a route in the shadow of the goalpost, intercepting New York Giants quarterback and returning it 97 yards for a touchdown that put the game out of reach with 1:03 remaining in the third quarter.
Meanwhile, an NFL offensive coach looked on with envy, watching the game from his office inside his team's facility.
"We loved that dude [in the draft]," the coach told FanBuzz, of Witherspoon. "I really wish we had him here."
Witherspoon's interception not only changed the complexion of the Seahawk's demolition of the Giants, a 24-3 victory that was never quite that close, but underscored what made the 6-foot and 185-pound defensive back the most coveted at his position.
Simultaneously the most scary thing for the rest of the NFL, and most encouraging for the Seahawks, is that Witherspoon is just one piece of a rebuilt secondary that has flashed potential of developing into the next Legion of Boom in Seattle.
"They're a talented group," an NFC North Personnel Director told FanBuzz. "A good mix of youth and experience. Good energy and passion on the field. They can all play the ball in the air. One of the better groups in the league for sure with the Witherspoon addition."
Witherspoon might be the envy of coaching staffs and personnel departments around the league, but even with 23 total tackles, 2.0 sacks, and an interception returned for a touchdown through his first four career starts, the former University of Illinois star is just one piece of a dynamic puzzle built by general manager John Schneider, head coach Pete Carroll and staff over the past three draft classes.
"He's looking like a veteran out here," Seahawks linebacker Uchenna Nwosu said, following Monday night's blowout. "He's doing his thing. The 97-yard pick-six, the two sacks, he just looks so comfortable out there. He knows what he's doing, and I can't wait to see him keep growing and growing."
In addition to Witherspoon in 2023, the Seahawks mined starting corner Tariq Woolen in the fifth-round out of UTSA back in 2022.
The Next Legion of Boom
Woolen and Witherspoon certainly fit the profile of Seahawks cornerbacks; tipping the scales at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds and 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds respectively. The duo have the potential to be shutdown corners for years to come, in an era that has placed unprecedented emphasis on the vertical passing game.
"They're a dominant group," an NFC South executive told FanBuzz, of the Seahawks' secondary. "They look like Seattle should look; long, and fast."
Beyond fitting the mold of what the Seahawks look for in the secondary, Witherspoon and Woolen have played like the kind of franchise cornerstones that teams build around at a premium position. With a 79.7 overall grade and 91.2 pass-rush mark, Witherspoon ranks as Pro Football Focus' No. 11 rated corner in the league, while Woolen checks in at No. 37 at the position.
Seattle's young corners, sharing a secondary with veteran safety Jamal Adams, Quandre Diggs, and rising defensive back Julian Love form the backbone of a defense that harkens back to the Legion of Boom led by Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Earl Thomas. That group delivered a Lombardi Trophy to the Charm City, with consecutive Super Bowl berths in 2014 and 2015.
According to head coach Pete Carroll, not only is the personnel of this group similar to their star-studded and champion predecessors, but they have a similar mentality, as well.
"Just a huge frickin' chip on their shoulder," Carroll said, via Sports Illustrated. "The [old Seahawks] had to prove it. It didn't matter who it was or where it was. They just had to prove it and get the f—- out of the way; we're coming through. I really think [this group has that]. We'll find out. We're working through it. We got to face the challenges that are coming here and see how we respond and see what emerges from it. I'm opening the door for them. It's wide open.
While the Seahawks have a long way to go to replicate the kind of success the Legion Of Boom achieved, but Monday against the Giants Seattle's defense looked absolutely relentless.
In addition to Witherspoon's pick-six, he also added six total tackles and two sacks. Meanwhile, the Seahawks swarmed around and smothered Daniel Jones, sacking him 10 times, intercepting him twice, forcing two fumbles and recovering one.
Monday was the kind of declarative statement that the Seahawks aren't just capable of competing this year, especially for the NFC Wild Card and perhaps as the San Francisco 49ers' biggest threat in the NFC West, but that this franchise's best days are ahead of it. Especially if the defense keeps dropping the boom.
Want More Sports News?
Get the biggest and best sports news sent directly to your inbox.