Marquise Blair said he picked up his knack for delivering big hits while playing backyard football as a kid in Wooster, Ohio. Blair, the third of four brothers in his family, had adopted the physical aspect of the sport quickly in those games against friends and family.
They were always tackle, none of that two-hand touch nonsense (unless they were on cement, of course).
Who was the biggest hitter among the four brothers?
“Me,” Blair said, in a “duh” sort of way.
Over the course of the last two weeks, Blair has provided an imposing force to the Seattle Seahawks secondary, something it was noticeably lacking over the team’s first eight games. He racked up 17 total tackles (including a game-high 11 tackles last Sunday in Atlanta), a few big hits and a clutch forced fumble near the goal line against Falcons running back Devonta Freeman.
“I think it’s all upside,” Pete Carroll said of Blair’s skill set. “I think everything is out in front of him. He’s shown the running and hitting like we love. Very instinctive football player. Very tough. Every game is a good experience for him to grow and just continue to get better and more confident. He already plays with a lot of confidence in the way he attacks the football and attacks his plays to be made. He’ll just get better over time.”
That’s not to say Blair's first two starts were mistake free. He was targeted several times in coverage, and gave up seven receptions for 72 yards against Atlanta, according to Pro Football Focus. But you’ll take the rookie miscues knowing that Blair is just as capable of making a game-changing play on the very next snap.
Bobby Wagner said the best advice he was given as a rookie was to make his mistakes “at 100 miles per hour.” He sees that trait in Seattle’s second-round safety.
“He’s a playmaker,” Wagner said. “He really grasps the concepts of the defense but, he’s just flying downhill making plays. He made a play on the goal line where he’s making the tackle but, to have the mindset to try get the ball out right before the guy gets on the goal line. It just shows that he has so much to learn but, where he’s at is really impressive. As he gets his starts and as he recognizes the game is just the game, he’s been playing all of his life, I think he’s going to make a lot of big plays for us.”
Blair had a tantalizing preseason debut back in August when he delivered a pair of crushing hits against the Denver Broncos. A back injury cost him nearly a month, though, and put him behind the 8-ball. He was a healthy scratch in two of the team’s first eight games and didn’t see defensive snaps until Week 6.
The biggest thing for the rookie out of Utah has been earning the trust of the coaching staff in regard to his knowledge of the defensive scheme. “Being where you’re supposed to be at” has been Blair’s primary objective.
Now he’s working on refining his knowledge of the details within Seattle’s defense. Most importantly, he’s doing so without thinking too much or worrying about the mistakes that are bound to come along the way.
“If you make a mistake, you’re going to make it,” Blair said. “You can’t rewind time and do it over again. Just run around – run around and make plays.”
Blair had already earned the right to keep his starting spot, but now that Tedric Thompson (shoulder) is on Injured Reserve, the rookie is guaranteed to be a mainstay in the secondary. He’ll start next to Bradley McDougald on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 9 and will be a crucial piece in Seattle’s playoff push over the second half of the season.