Analysis  

 

Kam Chancellor's impact on Seahawks' defense is priceless

Print

EDITOR'S NOTE: This column was published before NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported Kam Chancellor will rejoin the Seahawks with or without a new contract.

There's been a lot of talk about how Seattle can't win without Kam Chancellor.

That's a little extreme. But Kam is a key piece to the puzzle. And when you're missing a piece, the picture is never complete.

I look at all of the impact players Seattle has on defense and, well, it's tough to ignore great talent, such as Richard Sherman, Michael Bennett, Bobby Wagner, Earl Thomas, Cliff Avril and others. Factor in the coaching of Pete Carroll, and it's clear one man isn't going to keep the Seahawks from success long-term.

But the road is tougher.

A safety with Kam's ability is rare. Without him, wins are going to be a lot harder to come by. I didn't think his holdout was going to last two weeks into the season, and now that Seattle has fallen to 0-2, I'd be surprised if it lasts until Week 4. It has been more than 50 days. It shouldn't last much longer.

Kam is more than a phenomenal football player. He brings an attitude, changes the team dynamic and takes his teammates to a different place mentally. He is the defensive player who offensive coordinators game-plan around and quarterbacks always keep one eye on during each play. Every player on the field knows where he's at and what he's capable of.

There's a guy on every defense who plays that role. Kam is the reason the Seahawks' defensive unit thinks on another level and has an extreme amount of mental toughness. Those guys are never satisfied. They win a game and it's not enough. Instead of patting each other on the back, they're pointing out their own weaknesses.

Seattle's Legion of Boom reminds me of our defense in New England during the early 2000s.

We lost one of our better defensive players in Lawyer Milloy before the 2003 season. It was tough, because he was our brother and leader. As much as we hated to lose Lawyer, we had to go back to work. And we all learned quickly that, with Rodney Harrison -- who had signed on a few months before we lost Lawyer -- in the fold, our defense wasn't going to miss a beat.

Rodney fit the bill, so it turned out to be OK for us. We replaced all of the things we'd lost: big plays on the field alongside the leadership in the locker room. Partly because Harrison embodied that elusive role, our defense didn't drop off and our team went on to hoist the Lombardi Trophy again at the end of the season.

There aren't a lot of players who have the qualities that Rodney had or that Kam does.

Every game, all season

Rodney came into our organization and challenged us to work harder in all facets of the game -- lifting weights, watching film, conditioning or managing our diets. Whatever it was, we were challenging each other to be better. That's what Kam brings to Seattle.

The Seahawks have been in the Super Bowl the past two seasons. They were 1-1, and some teams would be happy with that.

But for that team, it's not good enough. Kam is playing at a high level; he's an All-Pro who gets beat once out of 100 plays. Yet, he's not satisfied. There aren't a ton of players like that. Seattle has a lot of players with that type of mentality. Sherman's like that. Thomas is like that, along with Wagner and Bennett, and the other guys.

But it's that missing piece. The machine doesn't work unless you have a strong nucleus of players in place. It needs to be firing on all cylinders. If Kam doesn't rejoin the team this year, it's a huge loss for the Seahawks and for Kam. He won't be with his teammates doing what he loves, and Seattle won't have the best strong safety in the league. It would absolutely jeopardize the Seahawks' chances at getting back to a third straight Super Bowl.

When Aaron Rodgers was sidelined due to injury two years ago, Green Bay was dismantled. When he returned, the Packers made the playoffs. There are certain players whose impact cannot be denied.

I understand that there's always a guy waiting in the wings for his opportunity to play. But when you've got a team assembled to win right now, with arguably the best strong safety in the league sitting out, it's a tough pill to swallow for everyone. At some point, Kam may be replaced at safety. Now is not that time.

The urgency surrounding Kam's absence escalates each week, and every time there's a big play in the secondary (and there were plenty Sunday night against the Pack), it's hard not to ask the question: If Kam had been in, would the play have ended differently? Seattle's defense has lost good players due to team success and free agency, and the team can bring in guys who play well within the system. But there are also players, like Kam, who a team builds a system around. He is more than one-dimensional, and what he provides makes Seattle's defense great. Not only is Kam the best strong safety in the game, but he can cover one-on-one against any position and play in the box as a linebacker to help defend against the run -- also allowing him to come on blitzes.

And if the losses keep piling up for Seattle, the team has to make a change. If there are defensive lulls, you've got to go above and beyond. Kam isn't just asking for more money because he feels like it. His point is, "I'm performing and I'm the best at my position." Teams have to make exceptions for phenomenal players, and this isn't the first time for Seattle. Over the last few years, the organization has had to level with a number of great players, including Wagner, Sherman, Thomas, Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch. It's hard to deny those guys the paycheck when they're playing at such a high level week in and week out.

All of the guys who make up the nucleus of this good team are getting compensated like it -- except for Kam. I realize that everybody isn't going to get a new deal, but everybody isn't the player that Kam is. Because of his versatility, skill set, mental toughness and leadership skills, he's hard to replace.

It's time for the Seahawks to come together with Kam and make one more deal for a guy who's been the leader, the playmaker, the enforcer. Sure, they'll eventually win if he's not there. It will be easier with him back.

Follow Willie McGinest on Twitter @WillieMcGinest.

Print

Headlines

The previous element was an advertisement.

NFL Shop