Seahawks S Quandre Diggs’ Top 5 Plays of 2021

Continuing to build his resume as one of the premier safeties in the NFL, Quandre Diggs turned in a career-year on many fronts for the Seahawks in 2021, earning his second consecutive Pro Bowl nod and receiving All-Pro consideration.

Starring in center field for coach Pete Carroll’s defense, Diggs tied his previous career-high with five interceptions, leading Seattle in that category for a second straight season and becoming the only player in the NFL to record at least three picks in each of the previous five seasons. In addition, he registered a career-best 94 tackles and allowed a 77.9 passer rating in coverage, the second-lowest mark of his career.

Rewarding him for his efforts, even coming off a fractured fibula suffered in the season finale, the Seahawks made Diggs a top priority in free agency and re-signed him to a three-year, $40 million contract. Under the terms of the deal, he’s now the eighth-highest paid safety in the NFL based on total and annual salary.

As Diggs prepares for his eighth NFL season and fourth in Seattle with a new contract in tow, which five plays jump out as his best highlights from a spectacular 2021 campaign?

5. Diggs robs a careless Jimmy Garoppolo deep in 49ers’ territory.

score: 49ers 7, Seahawks 0

situation: 3rd and 3, ball on 49ers’ 36-yard line (5:27 – 1Q)

Ever since arriving in Seattle midway through the 2019 season, Diggs has had Garoppolo’s number and then some. In his team debut on Monday Night Football in Santa Clara, he picked off an overthrow by the veteran quarterback in an eventual Seattle overtime victory. This past season, he intercepted him twice, including baiting Garoppolo into an ill-advised throw in their first matchup at Levis Stadium in Week 4.

Sliding up from a two-deep safety look on an inverted Cover 2 formation, he set up as a “robber” in the middle of the field while slot cornerback Ugo Amadi dropped back to replace him with 1/2 field responsibility. Garoppolo stared down tight end George Kittle on an in-breaking crossing route, badly telegraphing the throw and allowing Diggs to undercut it for a pick deep in 49ers’ territory. Unfortunately, the Seahawks weren’t able to score any points off of the turnover.

4. Showing off versatility, Diggs grounds James Conner with a third down tackle for loss.

score: Seahawks 7, Cardinals 7

situation: 3rd and 1, ball on Seahawks’ 21-yard line (12:35 – 2Q)’

While Diggs has finally received the credit he deserves primarily for his production as in coverage, he’s continued to show he’s more than just a ball hawk in center field. At 5-foot-9, 194 pounds, he levies bone-crunching hits from time to time and enjoys coming up to be involved defending the run as well as stopping receivers in their tracks for limited yards after the catch.

Though the Seahawks don’t play Diggs near the line of scrimmage often, he’s made a handful of nice plays from the box during his three seasons with the team. With the Cardinals threatening and nearly in the red zone in the season finale last January, Kyler Murray handed it off to James Conner with only a yard to gain for a fresh set of downs. But after Poona Ford and Rasheem Green forced Conner to bounce the run outside with quick penetration, Diggs shot up the line of scrimmage waiting for him. Even after the back initially seemed to evade him, the safety finished the job wrapping him up for a one-yard loss and forcing Arizona to settle for a field goal.

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3. Diggs snags an early, unintentional Christmas present from former teammate Matthew Stafford.

score: Rams 3, Seahawks 0

situation: 1st and 10, ball on Seahawks’ 32-yard line (15:00 – 2Q)

When the Seahawks have faced NFC West rivals, Diggs has consistently brought his A-game, and that remained the case squaring off against Matthew Stafford. The veteran quarterback ultimately led the Rams to a Super Bowl victory and a series sweep against their rivals in his first year with the team, but his former Lions teammate got the best of him on an individual level by picking him off twice in the two matchups .

During their second matchup in December, a game that got pushed back a couple days due to COVID-19 issues for both teams, Stafford had marched the Rams into field goal range to open the second quarter. Looking to push their lead to 10 points quickly, he tried to push the ball downfield to Cooper Kupp, seemingly expecting him to cut his route inside. But Kupp kept running straight downfield and Diggs capitalized on the miscommunication by catching a “punt” from Stafford near the goal line and returning it nearly 30 yards to wipe any potential points off the board.

2. Laying the wood, Diggs levels Logan Thomas and creates a pick for his safety mate.

score: Seahawks 7, Washington Football Team 3

situation: 2nd and 9, ball on Seahawks’ 41-yard line (4:48 – 2Q)

Losing double-digit games, highlights on defense proved to be few and far between at times for the Seahawks, who battled constant issues getting off the field in a timely manner and gave up tons of explosive plays. But if there’s a play of the year from a team perspective, it happened in Washington on Monday Night Football in November, and of course, Diggs played a starring role in the theatrics.

Nursing a slim four-point lead late in the first half at FedEx Field, the Seahawks dialed up a Cover 6 look against Washington’s empty formation. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke tried to squeeze the ball into a tight window to tight end Logan Thomas, who had linebacker Bobby Wagner attached to his hip running down the seam. Wagner got a fingertip on the football and then Diggs, who was playing in 1/4 responsibility on the cover 4 side, came flying in to deliver a jarring, legal hit on the receiver. The ball popped up into the air, allowing fellow safety Jamal Adams to slide underneath it for a critical interception to send the home team back to the sideline with no points.

1. Twice is nice? Diggs welcomes Stafford to Lumen Field with end zone thievery.

score: Seahawks 0, Rams 0

situation: 2nd and 8, ball on Seahawks’ eight-yard line (14:57 – 2Q)

As mentioned on an earlier highlight play, while the Seahawks came up on the short end in both games, Diggs got the better of Stafford when the two close friends faced off against one another for the first time since each of them departed the Lions. Early in the second quarter of a Week 5 Thursday Night Football tilt, the Rams were knocking on the door of the goal line inside the Seahawks’ 10-yard line and looked poised to break an early scoreless tie.

But Diggs had other plans. With Seattle playing man coverage in the red zone underneath, pressure coming from Ford in the interior forced Stafford to bail the pocket scrambling to his right. Unable to find an open receiver, he intended to throw the ball out of the back of the end zone and bring up 3rd and 8. However, once the quarterback sprinted to his right, Diggs instinctively read his eyes and sprinted across the end zone, eventually snagging the attempted throw away while getting both feet down inbounds for a crucial interception. Thanks to his red zone theft job, the Rams were sent away without any points for the third straight drive and the game stayed knotted up at zero.