Following a 38-30 win over the Cardinals at State Farm Stadium, the Seahawks have officially transitioned into offseason mode after a disappointing 7-10 campaign.
While the franchise didn't live up to lofty expectations coming off of an NFC West title and a 12-win season in 2020, several players still starred in all three phases for Seattle. Over the next two weeks, the Seahawk Maven writing staff will be naming their selections for end of season awards, including most valuable player, most improved, assistant coach of the year, and many more.
Continuing our awards showcase, who deserves the honor as Seattle's Defensive Player of the Year for 2021? Our panel makes their selections:
Corbin Smith: As my MVP pick, nobody deserves this award more than Diggs, who proved to be the most consistent playmaker on both sides of the ball for the Seahawks in 2021. Remaining committed to his team in the last year of his contract, he became the first defender in the NFL to produce three interceptions in each of the past five seasons. He generated a team-high five interceptions, with three of them coming against NFC West foes, including a pair of picks against former teammate Matthew Stafford. Flying all over the field, he racked up a career-best 94 tackles, finishing third on the team behind Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks. As has been the case since he arrived in 2019, teams rarely tried to test the Seahawks down the seam or with post routes and Diggs' presence remains the key reason why.
Nick Lee: Entering the final year of his contract, Diggs put together the best season of his career in 2021. His natural ball-hawking skills manifested into a career-high and team-high five interceptions. Looking at metrics in pass coverage, Diggs was one of the best safeties against the pass, with a 63.4 passer rating against him when targeted by opposing quarterbacks. In addition, he was one of the more consistent tacklers on Seattle's defense, continuing to play much bigger than his size. He was the glue that kept the defense together in center field as it transitioned through the year into a solid unit.
Ty Dane Gonzalez: Both Quandre Diggs and Jordyn Brooks had spectacular seasons, but Reed was arguably the most efficient in his role of the three. Building off a breakout 2020 campaign, Reed finished as one of the league's top cornerbacks, and really took off when he returned to his more natural home on the right side in Week 4. From that point forward, he didn't surrender a single touchdown and snared a pair of interceptions. He also ranked second amongst all qualified cornerbacks in opponent passer rating (48.7) and catch percentage (48.1) during that stretch. With free agency on the horizon for him, Reed did enough to secure a hefty payday from Seattle or another corner-needy franchise.
Colby Patnode: After selecting Quandre Diggs as the team MVP, he should be my logical choice for Defensive Player of the Year. But in an effort to spread the love, Reed snags the honors for his awesome play at corner, particularly after he slid back to the right side in Week 4. Starting 14 out of Seattle's 17 games, Reed collected 78 tackles and two interceptions, earning himself a 78.6 PFF Grade. In his last 11 starts, quarterbacks posted a sub-50 percent completion percent targeting him and he didn't allow a single touchdown, bringing much-needed stability to a cornerback group that struggled early in the year.
Rishi Rastogi: Just as they did during the second half of the 2020 season, the Seahawks were once again able to rely on cornerback DJ Reed as a consistent anchor on the back end of their defense. Though he struggled early in the season playing on the left side across from Tre Flowers, once the team shifted him back to the right side where he's most comfortable, he thrived. In the final four games of the season, Reed finished as PFF’s top cornerback with a 92.0 overall grade. He also started in 14 of 17 games and forced career-best rates with a 47.7 percent completion percentage and a 67.8 opposing passer rating against in coverage.