One of the top storylines surrounding the Seahawks defense last season was just how often Seattle opted to stay in its base personnel grouping.
The thinking there was that since they didn’t have a nickel corner they could trust, it made more sense to keep all three of their starting linebackers on the field more frequently. That led to the trio of Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and Mychal Kendricks being on the field for nearly 70% of spans in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus. That was by far the highest utilization of base defense across the NFL.
Seattle’s defense ranked 22nd in points allowed and 26th in total yards allowed, and while the below average play wasn’t solely on the linebackers, it did seem like a one-and-done philosophy. At least, that’s what Seahawks fans are hoping.
Wright indicated on Thursday that Seattle will indeed be operating out of its sub packages more frequently this season. The main reason? The Seahawks now feel the necessity of getting a fifth defensive back onto the field in Marquise Blair.
“I can’t give away the game plan, but I don’t think that’s going to be the case (this season) with the emergence of Marquise,” Wright said when asked about the team’s usage of base defense last year. “We’ve got to get Marquise on the field.”
Blair’s transition from safety to nickel corner was arguably the biggest development of Seahawks camp. The second-year defensive back received rave reviews across the board this summer, and he’s a major part of the reason why there’s added optimism that the Seahawks defense will be better this season.
Ken Norton said Blair’s man coverage skills are on par with any other defensive back on the roster. Blair’s size and physicality should make him a better blitzer and run stuffer than other nickel corners around the league.
Sunday against the Falcons will be our first glimpse at Seattle’s revamped secondary as a whole, and Blair is sure to be a large part of the game plan to stop Matt Ryan and Co.