Huard: Seahawks playing nickel could let Blair and Amadi make an impact
When the Seahawks started the safety tandem of Quandre Diggs and Bradley McDougald in Seattle’s 27-24 overtime win against the San Francisco 49ers, it meant promising rookie safety Marquise Blair was on the sidelines.
Blair, a 2019 second-round pick, had started the previous three games and was arguably the Seahawks’ best defensive player during Seattle’s Week 8 27-20 road win over the Atlanta Falcons, forcing a fumble near the endzone and leading the defense with 11 tackles.
The Seahawks acquired Diggs before the trade deadline from the Detroit Lions, but he was inactive against the Falcons and Buccaneers. Week 10 was his Seattle debut.
But Diggs and McDougald both played well on Monday. Both made a number of big hits and Diggs intercepted a pass. That makes Blair’s role the rest of the season unclear.
Brock Huard joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant for the Blue 42 segment Friday morning and said he sees Blair and another defensive rookie being major players for the Seahawks the rest of the season.
“I’m kind of anxious to see how Marquise Blair is going to be used down the stretch because I still think he’s going to play a role on this team and be a factor,” Huard said.
Which other rookie does Huard think will make an impact? That would be defensive back Ugo Amadi, a fourth-round pick from Oregon, who has mostly played special teams this season.
“I still think Ugo Amadi over some point this year … I think we’re going to hear his name called,” Huard said.
A reason you may see the rookie defensive backs on the field going forward is because the team played more nickel defense with three cornerbacks than base defense with three linebackers in Week 10 than they have for most of the season.
Seattle has tried to keep their three linebackers – Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks – on the field as much as possible, even in obvious passing downs with more wide receivers on the field. That changed on Monday night, and Jamar Taylor, the team’s third cornerback, was on the field for 28 snaps.
Huard was happy to see the change.
“We’ve talked about for 10 weeks,” he said. “I think you just have to present different pictures pre- and post-snap to NFL quarterbacks, and they did that.”
While Taylor played more than usual, he was often beat in coverage. He also had a penalty that negated a Shaquill Griffin interception.
Due to Taylor’s inconsistent play, is it worth throwing a young guy like Amadi or Blair into that spot? Additionally, Diggs has experience at nickel corner from his Detroit Lions days, so if he moved there, Blair could play safety.
“I think some folks in the personnel department would see the youth and the speed and those guys grow,” Huard said. “I think coach Carroll always loves to see young players develop.”
Taylor did make a play late in the game when he deflected a pass, but Huard said there should be competition for the third cornerback spot.
“It was nice to see him actually get his hands on the ball and be a factor, but I would be surprised if he is the starting nickel back and it’s just his job and there’s no competition from this day forward,” Huard said. “I think that’s still a position of need that they need to address, and I think they will.”
Listen to the segment at this link or in the player below.