Seattle Seahawks Defense: Both Naughty and Nice?

Thomas HolmesCorrespondent IIIDecember 23, 2011

SEATTLE - OCTOBER 30:  (L-R) Richard Sherman #25, Earl Thomas #29, and Kam Chancellor #31 of the Seattle Seahawks look on from the bench near the end of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at CenturyLink Field on October 30, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. The Bengals defeated the Seahawks 34-12. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout...I will tell you why.

The Seattle Seahawks defense is for real.

Yes, you probably already knew that, but this is more than beating up on the likes of Caleb Hanie.

No, what we've seen this season is evolution. This unit has grown from being young and inexperienced to downright fearsome. Especially the 'Hawks young secondary that has seemingly matured before our eyes this season through a trial by fire. Seattle Times writer Danny O'Neil summarized this growth by writing, "For years, the Seahawks appeared undersized and overmatched downfield. This year, they are finally standing tall with a secondary that is becoming impossible to overlook."

'I've got high expectations for these guys," head coach Pete Carroll told O'Neil, "and for the long haul.'"

What we're seeing now though could be the start of something very special not just for the secondary, but for the entire defensive unit with the talent being assembled.  Yet how this unit plays the game will be critical as well.

At the end of the day, for a defense to truly thrive they need a little nasty in them. Otherwise no one is going to be scared. 

The aggressive style the 'Hawks appear to be adopting is exciting to watch, and few players embody this attitude better than rookie Richard Sherman.

Plays like Sherman's bone jarring hit on Dez Bryant in Dallas leading to a key goal-line fumble is just one example of what we can look forward to seeing from him becoming a fixture within this unit. Yet in the same breath, his taunting penalty at the goal-line against the Rams two weeks was simply inexcusable. 

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 12:  Richard Sherman #25 of the Seattle Seahawks enters the field before the game against the St. Louis Rams at CenturyLink Field December 12, 2011 in Seattle, Washington. Seattle won 33-13. (Photo by Jay Drowns/Getty Images)
Jay Drowns/Getty Images

Is Sherman a hot head or simply an untamed beast?

What happens next will be important not just for Sherman, but for the unit as a whole, as there is a fine line between being nasty and playing dirty. Ideally though, this crew is young enough to be molded into a unit with players like Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Red Bryant focusing their fire to make them elite.

In hindsight what Carroll and GM John Schneider saw or perhaps didn't see in Aaron Curry now makes sense. Curry, while physically gifted enough to have the 'Hawks draft him No. 4 overall in 2009, never panned out in Seattle. Beyond his football sense, perhaps what was really missing was the tenacity to mesh within what the 'Hawks are now looking to achieve.   

Finding players with that tenacity, especially a pass rusher and some linebacking help, can long-term make this unit one of the best in the league not just next year, but for years to come and fulfill Carroll's expectations from his secondary right up to the line of scrimmage.

From afar, the 'Hawks late season run to respectability would appear the result of Marshawn Lynch getting in gear in the midst of a contract year and little else, but upon closer inspection it's the evolution of the defense that should be the real story.

Perhaps it's best to keep this secret safe, for in due time 'Hawks fans could have something truly special with a defense that can be so very naughty. Wouldn't that be nice?