There’s been some discussion on the blog in the comments section on whether or not Seattle’s new addition Lawyer Milloy will be a starter or a backup, and if he’ll play strong or free safety.
Although he’s getting up there in years, at 35 years old I think Milloy still is athletic enough to help Seattle. The Seahawks may give Jordan Babineaux a deserved audition at free safety, but I think the more likely scenario is Milloy coming in to play strong safety, and Deon Grant moving to free safety.
However it shakes out, both Babineaux and Milloy should get ample snaps on defense with all the situational subbing Seattle does.
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But Milloy, 35, has been a starter his entire NFL career and likely still sees himself as such. I don’t know how well he would take sitting behind someone who has not regularly started in the league.
The way Seattle used Grant during exhibition action is playing him close to the line of scrimmage in early downs and then bringing in Babineaux as an extra defensive back in passing situations, and I believe that’s something Milloy still can do effectively.
And while I think Brian Russell was assignment correct most of the time and did a decent job of protecting the back of the field in pass coverage, I do think he had trouble making open-field tackles in the run game.
Free safeties are the last line of defense, both in terms of the passing game and running backs breaking long runs. To that end, the free safety has to be one of the best tacklers on the team. And that wasn’t the case with Russell.
On a couple long runs during the preseason I noticed that Grant usually was the guy circling back and running down the running back to keep him from getting into end zone. So it makes sense to have a better tackler in the back end at free safety. And I believe that Grant still has the athleticism and range to be a decent center fielder at free safety.
While Seattle only gave up 388 yards on the ground during the preseason, they did give up an average of 4.3 yards per carry. The addition of Milloy makes Seattle a better tackling team.
Milloy also brings more leadership to the defense as a player who has had much success on the field, including a Super Bowl win with the New England Patriots.
Along with returning to finish his career in his hometown, Milloy has other motivation. With 17 sacks and 25 interceptions, Milloy is close to reaching the elite 20/20 group. Only nine players in NFL history have reached the 20 interceptions, 20 sacks plateau.
It’s an exclusive group that includes linebackers Jack Ham, Donnie Edwards, Seth Joyner, Wilber Marshall, Williams Thomas and Ray Lewis, safeties Rodney Harrison, Brian Dawkins and LeRoy Butler, and the only cornerback in the group, Ronde Barber.
Former strong safety Harrison is the only player to reach the 30/30 mark, with 30 ½ sacks and 34 interceptions. However, Milloy has gone without a sack in his last two seasons as a pro.