On Wednesday, reports surfaced that the Seattle Seahawks had agreed to a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles sending DE Michael Bennett to the winners of Super Bowl LII. Yesterday, the Seahawks announced they would be releasing CB Richard Sherman.
So died the Legion of Boom.
This shouldn’t have worked. The best bet was always Thomas, who made up for questions about size with speed, instincts and an absolute ferociousness. But there was Chancellor, Sherman ... prospects you hope come through for you but have to do just that: hope. It was an experiment built within a pretty good system of a defense.
Somewhere along the way they got a name, and a reputation, and really they just started locking teams down. The defense would be introduced at Centurylink Field, and the Legion Of Boom would be announced, and run onto the field, together. The reputation grew. Richard Sherman even yelled something at Tom Brady.
The history of the Legion of Boom is full of trials and errors, huge mistakes and amazing successes. In the 2013 playoffs, the Seahawks defense gave up a last-second field goal to the Falcons in the divisional round, ending their season. The next year, with the 49ers driving in the NFC Championship, Richard Sherman tipped a Colin Kaepernick pass to the end zone to Malcolm Smith to seal a Seahawks win. Failure, a lesson learned, and a success. What happened two weeks later was a foregone conclusion and a victory lap for the Seahawks defense. The Legion of Boom had a ring, and the experiment worked.
The Seahawks will try to rebuild, and try to recapture what the Legion of Boom created. There are holdovers, and new faces will emerge. But it’s impossible to re-create what the LOB became because it was an experiment all along: careful scouting, some patience, an environment they could flourish in, a scheme that fit their skills to a perfectly, and a whole lot of luck. What you’re left with is the end of an era and attitude, and a whole bunch of fun memories.
And another Seahawks fan I consider a homie (I got way too many homies who are Seahawks fans), Danny Kelly over at the Ringer:
Going forward, it’s safe to assume Carroll wants his team to get younger and faster on defense, and we could see the start of a culture shift in the locker room. Over the past few years, Seattle’s defense took on the identity of Sherman, Bennett, and the team’s cadre of big-personality superstars. Going forward, that group will still be headlined by Thomas and Wagner, but they’ll need a few up-and-coming first-contract guys — perhaps promising corner Shaquill Griffin, safety Delano Hill, pass rusher Frank Clark, defensive tackle Nazair Jones, or someone in the upcoming draft class — to reenergize the squad. The NFL is cyclical (for everyone except the Patriots, I guess), and Seattle couldn’t pay its top defenders top-of-market or near-top-of-market contracts forever. The Legion of Boom era is over, and now the depth of talent that Carroll and GM John Schneider have built behind the team’s big-name players over the past few years will be put to the test.
I remember the Legion of Boom coming into reality in 2012.
In 2011, San Francisco took over the NFC West under first-year Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. The Seahawks were languishing under HC Pete Carroll having gone 7-9 two years in a row. The Arizona Cardinals were in worse straits under HC Ken Whisenhunt and the St. Louis Rams were just a mess of a franchise in the final year of the worst five-year stretch of any franchise in NFL history.
So heading into 2012, the division (and ultimately the conference) was the 49ers’ domain. But something happened in Seattle. The defense went from good to great. Really great. Historic great.
And while they were able to stop Robert Griffin III’s historic rookie season in the playoffs and maybe his career, they weren’t good enough to carry the team against any opponent. And while rookie QB Russell Wilson flashed an unusual escapability with an uncanny flair for improvisation with a deft touch (and an inhuman level of corniness to boot), he hadn’t ascended to a level of performance that was enough to command the late-game moments that define players and teams especially in the postseason.
That changed in 2013.
For two seasons, the Legion of Boom made the Seahawks’ defense the best defense in the NFL in terms of points allowed. And yards allowed. And...well, yeah. And Wilson grew from his rookie season into something more tenacious and unpredictable and, at least as a Rams fan, hate-able. And the Seahawks got good.
They beat the Niners in San Fran’s third successive NFC Championship and, essentially, sent that franchise into a tailspin. They won Super Bowl XLVIII. Well, no, they defaced Super Bowl XLVIII. It wasn’t a game. They took Peyton Manning’s 2013 Denver Broncos and ran them off the field, 43-8. And they made it back to Super Bowl XLIX and nearly won that one too against the team of the era in the Bill Belichick/Tom Brady Patriots. And they followed it up with a spectacular team that was underdone only by a very good, and relatively temporary, Carolina Panthers side.
There’s a reason this feels like a eulogy. It is.
The Legion of Boom is over. It doesn’t mean that we as Rams fans should write off the Seahawks. Yes, we beat them down in Week 15. But they got the better of us in the Coliseum in Week 5. And part of the reason they’re tearing down the LOB. They’re trying to build something in its wake while Wilson is still at the helm. He’s still just 29-years old and threw a league-high 34 touchdowns last season. They were in the top half of offenses in the NFL and in the top half of defenses in the NFL. They finished with a winning season.
This isn’t a team to take lightly.
As much as I wish it weren’t true, the Seahawks are still in the mix. As I mentioned in an interview last night on SB Nation Radio with Matt Harab, five of the six teams in the NFC playoffs last season weren’t in the playoffs two years ago. That means 11 of the 16 teams in the conference have been in the playoffs the last two years.
The competitive balance in the NFC is very, very, very strong. And while we as Rams fans should be excited about our newfound fortune on the field and on the sideline throughout the coaching ranks, the reality is that parity in the NFL is a godsend when you’re trying to climb up the ladder and a drag when you’ve climbed up enough rungs to look down at most of the rest of the league.
The Rams are where the Seahawks were. And now, the unit that carried the Seahawks to that perch, the Legion of Boom, is relegated to social media hashtags, Wikipedia pages and memories.
But don’t ignore our pea shoot-tinged rivals to the north beyond the up-and-coming 49ers. They may be down, but they were all the way up. And they’re not out.
So while we can celebrate the end of one of the greatest defenses the NFL has ever seen, we should also watch out to make sure they don’t build anything anywhere near as ferocious in the years to come.
RIP, Legion of Boom. Now don’t ever do anything like that ever again.