The addition of Jamal Adams to Seattle’s secondary may not be the only significant development for the Seahawks’ defense this season.
After relying heavily on their base 4-3 defensive grouping last season, the Seahawks have been bullish about the potential of last year’s second-round pick Marquise Blair to take over at nickel back this year. While Blair was drafted as a hard-hitting safety out of the University of Utah, Adams’ addition creates a roadblock for Blair to get on the field at strong safety. Instead, Seattle has put Blair in the slot to see how he can hold up and have been impressed with what they’ve seen.
“I can’t give away the game plan, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case with the emergence of Marquise,” linebacker K.J. Wright said on Thursday when asked if he expects a similar amount of base defense to be played this year. “We’ve got to get Marquise on the field.”
Blair appeared in 14 games as a rookie with three starts and 32 total tackles on the year. Bradley McDougald served as the starting strong safety with a combination of Tedric Thompson and Quandre Diggs handling the free safety spot. Blair played just 230 defensive snaps for Seattle last season as the team mostly elected to keep their linebacker trio of Wright, Bobby Wagner and Mychal Kendricks on the field. They did so on over 75 percent of their defensive snaps in 2019.
“He’s really probably been the brightest surprise of camp,” head coach Pete Carroll said earlier in camp. “And what it is, is we didn’t know how he would cover being that he has been more of a safety. But he’s got great quick feet, and great feel for routes and he covers people as tight as anybody we have on our team.”
In theory, Blair’s history at safety could also allow him to rotate to the traditional safety spot so Adams can become more involved closer to the line of scrimmage as well.
Either way, Blair will likely have a much larger role in Seattle’s defense this season.