In week one of the 2016 season, the Seattle Seahawks faced off against the Miami Dolphins. Coming into the season, one of the looming questions for Seattle was who would play corner across from all-pro Richard Sherman. Would it be veteran Jeremy Lane, who had played a crucial role in Superbowl XLIX until he broke his arm and tore his ACL intercepting Tom Brady or would it be DeShawn Shead, who had played mostly safety for the Seahawks until the last half of 2015 where he and Lane split snaps at slot and outside corner? Throughout the preseason it became clear that Shead would be the second cornerback on the depth chart and Lane would be the slot corner.
Looking at the Film: Week 1 DeShawn Shead
DeShawn Shead played all 54 defensive snaps against the Dolphins, of those plays 34 of them were attempted passes by Ryan Tannehill. Shead, along with the rest of the Seattle secondary, shut down Tannehill for the most of the game. Coming into the year, Shead had seven starts over the course of his four year career, with six of them coming at the end of 2015.
Over the course of watching all 54 of Sheads defensive snaps, it became clear Shead was mentally strong. Early on in the game, he was beaten multiple times on comeback and hitch routes. He gave the receiver huge space to work with when they made their breaks because it took so long for him to recover due to bad form. After the first quarter of play, he adjusted on the fly and was step for step with his man, demonstrating good technique in combating the hitch and comeback routes. His ability to be placed on an island against top receivers and make his own adjustments during the game is great to see from a second-year starter.
Throughout the game, Shead demonstrated the physical qualities expected of a Seahawks corner. When playing press, he got his hands on the receiver and disrupted the route interrupting the timing between the quarterback and receiver without getting beat down the sideline. In off coverage he was great about maintaining distance between himself and the receiver while still being able to make a play on any attempted passes.
During the 2016 season, DeShawn Shead proved he could be the cornerback to play across from Sherman. Unfortunately, due to an ACL injury sustained in the NFC Divisional round of the playoffs, it appears the second-year starter will miss significant time in the 2017 season. Regardless of his recovery time, his injury forces the Seahawks to address the defensive back position during the off-season. If Shead can come back at a similar level of play to his 2016 campaign, look for him to reclaim his starting role as the corner opposite Sherman in 2017.