Seahawks FS Quandre Diggs Spearheads Defensive Upswing
Since Quandre Diggs broke into the lineup at free safety, the Seahawks have found their groove defensively, limiting the 49ers and Eagles to 26 points in back-to-back victories to improve to 9-2 on the season.
With just two games under his belt since arriving from Detroit in exchange for a fifth-round draft choice, however, coach Pete Carroll isn’t ready to proclaim Diggs a savior just yet.
“Let’s give him some time,” Carroll said. “He’s only played two weeks. Give him a chance to really impact the end season. We’ll see. We’ll look back on that one, I think. We’re thrilled to have him. I love to be able to communicate on the level that we’re communicating on.”
Carroll is taking the right approach tapping the brakes a bit to slow down the Diggs hype train. But after struggling to fill the void left behind by the departure of Earl Thomas, there’s no denying the fifth-year defender has had a tangible impact on Seattle’s recent defensive surge.
Displaying excellent range in center field and a willingness to deliver big hits at the catch point, Diggs stuffed the stat sheet against Philadelphia and San Francisco. He produced four tackles, a 44-yard interception, a pass defensed, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery, showing off his diverse skill set for his new team.
That’s pretty good production for a player who still claims to be learning the subtleties of the safety position after playing cornerback for the majority of his football career.
“It’s only my second full year at safety. I think people forget that,” Diggs told reporters on Wednesday. “I think people forget that last year was my first full year and I was a Pro Bowl alternate. So, everybody just kind of forgot in the mix that he’s still new to this.”
Among several reasons Diggs appealed to Carroll and the Seahawks, the 26-year old defender has started multiple games at slot cornerback, free safety, and strong safety since being drafted in the sixth round in 2014. He’s an instinctive, well-rounded player who offers the flexibility to succeed in any defensive system.
While Diggs has made plenty of plays on his own accord, that prior experience has proved beneficial for teammates as well. He’s able to serve as a field general, and though not all of terminology is the same in Seattle’s defense compared to other systems he’s played in, his presence has aided communication in the secondary.
“I can relate to all the guys on the defense except the D line because I played all those positions,” Diggs elaborated. “I know when the corner is in a stress situation or I know when the nickel is in a stress situation. Or, B Mac [Bradley McDougald] is in a situation where I need to look over and confirm with him some things.”
“I’ve been in all those positions, so for me, I guess I can kind of be a common factor to those guys and let them know like hey, I understand that that’s a tough situation. Just try to go to the next play or let’s just try to get it right.”
As a result, the Seahawks surrendered only 453 passing yards and limited the duo of Jimmy Garoppolo and Carson Wentz to a 70.9 passer rating, intercepting three passes in the process. The improved play in the back half has had a trickle-down effect for the rest of Seattle’s defense, including the defensive line, which has generated 8.0 sacks and 19 quarterback hits over the past two games.
Though it may seem Seattle’s defense is clicking on all cylinders, there still looks to be room for the unit to continue ascending during the final five weeks of the season. Diggs is still learning the intricacies of his position and the defensive line has been banged up, providing hope it’ll be even better at full strength.
After playing for mostly non-contending teams in Detroit, Diggs has quickly endeared himself to the fan base and isn’t taking his latest opportunity for granted. Now a vital part of Seattle’s Super Bowl chances, he’s soaking up every moment with his new team.
“It’s super exciting. Any time you can be on a winning team in the NFL is huge. It’s hard to win games each and every week. Since I’ve been here, the energy, the vibes, everything about this team has been first class. I’ve just enjoyed every second of it… Loving the vibes around here. These guys let me be myself. I just want to go out, have fun, and joke around while playing football.”