Seattle Seahawks strong safety Kam Chancellor had another terrific season, and both he and elite free safety Earl Thomas form the league’s best safety duo- bar none. Chancellor’s physical play as a run defender is always a joy to watch, and I always love safeties like Chancellor who play the game with a high level of physicality and make big hits but also play disciplined. One thing that often goes underrated with Chancellor is his ability to shut down elite tight ends in one-on-one coverage, as Chancellor is both fast and athletic in coverage. Not only did he have an interception against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFCCG, but he also shredded Vernon Davis in coverage; he’s also shut down the likes of Tony Gonzalez and Jimmy Graham this year.
Chancellor will have to have a similarly big game against the Broncos, as they feature a great offensive line and power rushing attack spearheaded by Knowshon Moreno with rookie Montee Ball as a strong complementary piece. But Chancellor’s play in coverage will be even more important, as Broncos tight end Julius Thomas is one of the game’s most athletic pass-catchers and is a real chess piece for Peyton Manning in the passing game. As we’ve seen all season, but especially in the Broncos AFCCG win over the New England Patriots, Manning loves to motion Thomas out wide; it’s up to Chancellor and linebackers like K.J. Wright to hold him down.
For a safety, it’s all about reading the quarterback, and Chancellor will be going up against perhaps the most difficult quarterback to decipher and beat mentally. Here’s what Chancellor said about Peyton, via the Tacoma News Tribune’s Todd Dybas, at yesterday’s press conference, “I think he is a true competitor, a great competitor, a guy who is going to go out there every week and give you his all. I think he’s very smart, in the game he knows what he sees on defense, and he does a good job of moving guys on defense and throwing what he wants to throw.”
None of that is stuff we haven’t heard already, and I think it was a little bit more interesting to hear Chancellor’s thoughts on defending the pick play. Basically every NFL team runs it in an effort to get separation for other receivers, and I’m sure the Broncos will use it against the incredible- and physical- Legion of Boom in an effort to help their receivers. Wes Welker’s pick play that injured Aqib Talib in the AFCCG was controversial, and it wasn’t surprising to hear that Chancellor was asked about what he would do if the Broncos ran that same type of play against him.
His response, “If he’s coming at me to do a pick play I’m going to try and get around him. I’m a get around him and get to my guy. If I blatantly see him I’m not just going to run into the guy and let my guy be wide open, I’m going to go around him and get to my guy, be athletic.”
Get around him, be athletic, and guard your man. There you have it.