Sam’s Film Room: The Seahawks need to re-sign Byron Maxwell

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In this breakdown, I analyzed all of Byron Maxwell’s plays from the Week 17 game versus the Arizona Cardinals. He was the standout player and he should be re-signed this offseason.

The Seattle Seahawks lost to the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday which ended all hopes of them making the playoffs. In that loss one player in particular stood out, though. Byron Maxwell was the top defensive player on the team by far. Maxwell, who signed with the team less than two months ago, only allowed one reception for 11 receiving yards on seven targets. Not only did he allow just over 1.5 yards per target, he also had two pass breakups where one of them was almost intercepted.

Here are all the plays in one video followed by my discussion points below:

Play 1

This play happened in the first quarter with 3:27 remaining on the clock. The Seahawks are playing Tampa 2 with K.J. Wright playing in the seam between the two deep safeties. Maxwell is responsible for the underneath zone by the sideline. Drew Stanton locks onto Larry Fitzgerald and waits for him to break between the zones. He does not see Maxwell, which allows him to drive in front of the pass for the breakup and almost the pass.

The Cardinals were very fortunate this ball fell incomplete. In my opinion, if Maxwell broke on the route a split second earlier this probably would have been caught. Regardless, it was a great play by the cornerback to key the eyes of the quarterback and prohibit Fitzgerald from making the catch.

Play 2

His other pass breakup came in the second quarter. The Cardinals run mirrored slant-flat concepts on both sides of the field while the Seahawks played Cover 1 Plug. K.J. Wright is the “plug” defender which means he’s the underneath zone player looking to stop crossing routes.

On the outside, tight end #86 Ricky Seals-Jones runs a slant route while Maxwell plays man coverage. Maxwell does a fantastic job of transitioning from his trail technique to undercutting the pass for the deflection.

Play 3

The one reception he allowed was versus Larry Fitzgerald at the start of the second quarter.

After Fitzgerald motioned inside, he ran an out-n-up comeback down the sideline. This movement forced Maxwell to flip his hips to cover him by the boundary. At the top of his route, Maxwell was actually in a good position but since Fitzgerald used his hands to disengage from the cornerback he was able to cut back underneath for the catch.

This route is extremely difficult to cover especially when Drew Stanton was able to escape the pocket. If you are a Seahawks’ fan, you just have to hope that the pass rush contains him before it gets to this point in the play.

Play 4

When Richard Sherman tore his achilles, there was a noticeable drop in physicality by the cornerbacks. This is one thing Maxwell offers to this team where it borders on a potential “holding” or “pass interference” penalty.

In this play, John Brown attempts to cut towards the sideline on his out route but you can clearly see that Maxwell grabbed and pulled him from getting any separation. In my opinion, this probably should have been a holding penalty, but you can’t downgrade him for not getting called.

Play 5

While this may be true of this last play, it can definitely not be said of this play in the fourth quarter.

The Seahawks are in Cover 1 Man after Jeremy Lane blitzed off of the left side of the formation. Since Frank Clark did a fantastic job of penetrating into the backfield, this forced Stanton to scramble to his right. Maxwell was caught staring into the backfield and he left John Brown completely uncovered. This is a busted coverage if I’ve ever seen one and the Seahawks were lucky to not get burned deep.

During this game, I only downgraded him on four passing plays. This was by far his most egregious offence.

Play 6

While I was watching his tape, something I noticed was that he tends to get a little too high in his coverage and in his transition. It almost makes him look off-balanced as he responds to a wide receiver’s route. This can definitely be an issue on forward breaking concepts like hitches, curls, and comebacks, but it doesn’t appear to be as big of an issue on outs, digs, and slant routes which he tends to cover well.

Play 7

The last point I’m going to make is that Maxwell actually helped out in run defense too. This trait is what made Richard Sherman endearing to many fans and Maxwell doesn’t look like he has an issue throwing his body into running back to make the tackle. In this game, he collected two run stops and helped contain the Cardinals’ running backs on his side of the field.

Overall, here is how I graded Maxwell throughout this game on a quarter-by-quarter basis.

  • Quarter 1 = B
  • Quarter 2 = B+
  • Quarter 3 = A
  • Quarter 4 = B+
  • Overall = B+

While I don’t expect him to be this good in every game, and honestly he looked absolutely awful just two weeks prior versus the Los Angeles Rams, I feel like this performance more than justifies the Seahawks to re-sign him. Currently he’s making $900,000 on his one-year deal, so I can see the team spending $1.5 million to $2.0 million per year to retain his services next season. If I was John Schneider, offering him a three-year back-loaded contract for $8 million total would be what I’d try to get him to sign considering his age (29).

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