Thursday, November 29, 2012

PED Suspensions Loom for Browner and Sherman

Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, cornerbacks for the Seattle Seahawks, both tested positive for Adderall on the same day, and their punishment has resulted in a four game suspension. Both players are appealing the process, but these are unlikely to overturn the suspensions, and could actually drag out the process, mystifying everyone to when they will serve the suspension. One of the more troubling things about this, besides the fact that they tested positive on the same day, is that Adderall is simply a concentration drug, used most commonly to treat ADHD by helping focus. Why would these two players take this drug, when they know it is on the NFL’s list of banned substances? Only they know the answer to that question.

Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman both face four game suspensions.

The more important issue however, is how this loss for the vaunted Seahawks defense cannot be overstated. The rise of the ‘Hawks defense into one of the top five in the NFL is almost entirely centered on the physical style of these two corners.

The Seahawks defense is third in points allowed and passing yards against, mainly because of the two terrific young cornerbacks. Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, along with the pro-bowl safety Earl Thomas, have developed and made the pass defense very tough to beat. Sherman and Browner are so big, strong, and talented, that they can play successful one-on-one coverage on the outside, allowing the other members of the defense to drop back in zone coverage or rush the passer. This is very important, because although pass rushers such as Chris Clemons, Red Bryant, and Brandon Mebane have been successful, none of them are Pro-Bowlers, and frankly, none of them would be without the play of Sherman and Browner. The two shutdown corners don’t allow any openings for receivers, forcing quarterbacks to hold on to the ball longer, which allows the pass rush to be more successful. Taking these two cornerbacks away will force the defense to send back more players in coverage, which will drastically take away from the pass rush and rush defense.

These suspensions could not have come at a worse time, as the Seahawks are fighting with several other teams for one of the last playoff spots. The short term outlook for Sherman and Browner looks grim. Even if the suspensions get overturned upon appeal, which is highly unlikely, the Seahawks will be missing their two starting cornerbacks. This leads to the question of who is going to replace them, and will they be able to replicate the physical style of play that Sherman and Browner bring. The two leading candidates are Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond. Trufant is a ten-year veteran, who was once a top-tier corner, making him a viable replacement, even if he won’t be able to completely replicate the bruising style of play brought by Sherman and Browner. Thurmond is a third year player from Oregon, but has battled injury throughout his college and pro career. He was a strong player at Oregon, so if he can stay healthy, he can hopefully be a successful corner and show his skills in his increased upcoming role.

Marcus Trufant will have to step up big time in the absence of the two starting cornerbacks.

Trufant and Thurmond seem as if they will be able play at least above average defense, and will allow the defense to at least get by in the absence of the two standout corners, but the biggest difference will be the height difference. With Sherman at 6’-3’’, and Browner at 6’-4’’, they make up the tallest cornerback duo in the league, and this, combined with their physical style, makes them an imposing presence helping earn the Seahawks secondary the nickname “Legion of Boom.” Assuming Trufant and Thurmond take over as the starters, we will be losing a combined nine inches of height in the secondary. This is a big change, and will definitely result in a decrease of production. We will just have to see how much production actually is lost. Hopefully Sherman and Browner can get their suspensions overturned or reduced, and get back on the field as soon as possible, because their absence will turn our defense’s biggest strength, to possibly its biggest weakness.

It is clear that the loss of these two players will seriously hurt the team, but it all comes back to the question of why. Why did they allow this to happen? Why would they take Adderall? In today’s world of increased scrutiny of professional athletes, especially regarding banned drugs, why would Sherman and Browner risk their reputations by taking this drug? The only explanation I can think of is the two players wanting that slight edge, and taking the drug before a game. Whatever the case may be, these two corners screwed up, and now they are going to have to serve their sentence, and hope it doesn’t cost the Seahawks a playoff berth.

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