He’s still months from playing his first game for the Seahawks. Yet Julian Love’s Seattle street cred is already soaring.
Love is a native of the Chicago area. He played for and graduated from nearby Notre Dame in Indiana. He became the Fighting Irish’s all-time leader in interceptions. His first four NFL seasons until now, he played for the New York Giants.
So Seattle is new to the versatile safety the Seahawks signed to a contract in March.
Yet not completely new.
He has family roots here. Delicious, legendary roots, to those who love Caribbean food.
Love revealed during the Seahawks’ minicamp this week he’s related to the founder of Paseo, Seattle’s renowned Caribbean sandwich shops. The first Paseo opened in 1994, in the Fremont neighborhood just north of downtown.
That mouthwatering morsel of information makes Love instantly popular to many in Seattle, still three months before he assumes his key new jobs in coach Pete Carroll’s remade defense.
Those who have ever had the Number One, Paseo’s Caribbean Roast sandwich, know what this means.
“I know. I know,” Love said, chuckling at the reaction to his news of being related to a Seattle institution.
“So Lorenzo Lorenzo, that’s my grandmother’s brother. And so then my cousins or whatever opened up a restaurant called Un Bien. There’s a couple of them now. That’s kind of (from) the founding father (of) Paseo. That’s the new jam now.”
Love then said, smiling: “I need a sandwich endorsement or something.”
Lorenzo left Paseo years ago while in a controversy over a lawsuit brought by workers. He then opened Un Bien, with a location in Ballard and another just below Golden Gardens Park along Seattle’s Shilshole Bay. Un Bien is essentially the old Paseo. Paseo is now run by Lorenzo’s sons, with the original location in Fremont plus those in the SoDo section of Seattle just south of the Mariners’ T-Mobile Park and in Issaquah.
“It’s my grandmother’s brother, Lorenzo Lorenzo,” Love repeated. “Random fact. Wasted it early. No one ask me again.”
Julian Love’s fit
OK, so he has family roots in great Seattle food.
Can Love make Seattle’s defense great? Or, at least, better?
The Seahawks gave Love two years and up to $12 million because:
He has in his four NFL seasons played every position in the defensive secondary. He’s covered wide receivers outside as a cornerback. He’s played inside as a slot, nickel defensive back. He’s been a deep post safety, the job Quandre Diggs has had making the Pro Bowl the last three Seahawks seasons. Love also has played up closer to the line of scrimmage, like Jamal Adams has done for Seattle.
Adams is still recovering from a torn quadriceps tendon from last September. He may not be ready for the start of this season in September, though he and Carroll are aiming for that. Love is insurance to play with Diggs at safety if Adams cannot.
Seattle’s defense subverted most of what the offense and quarterback Geno Smith did last year, as Smith made the first Pro Bowl and postseason start of his career.
The Seahawks were 30th in the NFL in rush defense last season.
Love is part of Carroll’s plan to play three safeties often in 2023. Love back with Diggs allows Adams, when he returns, to play at the line of scrimmage like an extra linebacker against the run and to blitz quarterbacks. That’s what Adams did in 2020 for the Seahawks, when he had 9 1/2 sacks to set an NFL record for defensive backs.
“I’m excited for that, when he gets back, because you just want to have weapons. This (NFC West) division alone, you’ll need as much weapons, as much as ammo as you have,” Love said. “He’s a huge weapon for us on this team.
“So whatever role, whatever capacity I’m in, I’m going to do my best to play my brand of football because that’s why Coach Carroll brought me out here, is to play my brand of football — whether Jamal is on the field or not on the field.”
What Love showed in two months of official team offseason workouts that ended Thursday with the final practice of minicamp confirmed to Carroll his new safety will be a big part of Seattle’s game plans in 2023.
“He’s been fantastic,” Carroll said. “He’s a young kid still (25 years old), a young man, still. But he’s like he’s been around forever. He’s got great sense, great awareness, presence. He totally gets football. It makes sense to him. He’s an excellent communicator. Really a gifted, smooth athlete with real quickness, and that comes from really great instincts.”
Diggs being able to count on Love during games would allow Diggs and Love to often trade off responsibilities and become interchangeable. That could cause confusion for opposing quarterbacks, receivers and play callers. They may not know what Diggs’ and Love’s alignments and responsibilities are immediately before a snap.
“I know that it’s been obvious to Quandre that he’s got a guy that really can command what’s going on,” Carroll said. “And so they’re sharing the duties, and working together and growing.”
Quandre Diggs appreciates Love
Diggs already sees how adept Love is at anticipating what the offense is going to do.
“It’s been cool. J Love is a really smart guy,” Diggs said. “So we sit in meetings, and I have a question or he has a question, just kind of ask each other and see what it is. But you can tell he’s definitely been studying his stuff. He knows what he’s doing. I’m comfortable letting him make calls and things like that.
“It’s been fun. He can play. You guys saw him last year when we played (the Giants). He was making plays all over the field.”
It all sounds good now.
But, as Love reminds, it’s June. It all looks and sounds good and optimistic right now.
“I’m not a huge fan of talking about potential,” he said. “We have a job to do when everyone gets healthy and gets back.
“I think you look at who we have across the board on paper it looks good. It’s now our job to make that a reality. And so that takes each day grinding, getting close to each other, going out to dinner together, the little things just so we can work as one this season.”
When the Seahawks’ defensive backs go out to dinner, Love has a Seattle place he can take them.
“I haven’t (been),” Love said of Paseo and Un Bien. “I’ve been grinding, spending time out here. I haven’t been able to get to the city much, staying on the east side.
“I’m going to take advantage of getting the opportunity to go there come fall. Yes. I know the story. My family always comes out here. The sandwiches over there.
Seahawks minicamp ends with a twist: Devon Witherspoon, SEA's highest-drafted CB since Shawn Springs, moves from starter outside to inside slot DB
It's part of how Pete Carroll believes he has so many good DBs he can use new schemes to overhaul the unit https://t.co/xWiO2GwRpq
— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) June 9, 2023