Pete Carroll, Seahawks 'Anxious' to Find Increased Role for DB Ugo Amadi
With coach Pete Carroll’s defense playing its finest game of the season, the Seahawks were able to move to 8-2 with a 27-24 overtime win over the 49ers last Monday night.
Seattle swarmed quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo all night long, sacking him five times and accumulating 10 quarterback hits. The relentless pressure helped create two fumbles and an interception that were turned directly into 21 points for the visitors.
While the Seahawks pass rush woke up and the secondary looked much improved with Quandre Diggs at free safety, if there’s one area that remains concerning, it’s nickel cornerback. Jamar Taylor struggled most of the evening, allowing several catches and committing a costly holding penalty that negated an interception by Shaquill Griffin on the game’s opening drive.
When pressed about Taylor’s recent play on Monday, Carroll didn’t provide the most glowing assessment.
“It’s a difficult position to play,” Carroll commented. “They’re always under the scrutiny because a bulk of the focus happens in the slot position usually in nickel situations. He’s had a lot of opps. He’s been up and down, and he had a couple plays last week that got away. He’s in a competitive situation, and he’s got to keep doing well to hold his spot just like everybody else.”
Taylor hasn’t necessarily played poorly, but when the 49ers needed to move the chains, Garoppolo constantly picked on him last Monday night. On just 129 defensive snaps this year, he’s allowed 25 completions on 40 targets for 260 yards and opposing quarterbacks have posted an 89.5 passer rating targeting him.
Considering Taylor’s rocky performance at an important position, could it be time for the Seahawks to consider reinstalling fourth-round pick Ugo Amadi into the lineup?
Starring at Oregon, Amadi started at both safety positions as well as nickel cornerback, producing 165 tackles, nine interceptions, 8.5 tackles for loss, and 25 passes defensed. Always seeking versatility, Seattle immediately started working him at free safety and nickel cornerback in rookie minicamp.
Following an impressive preseason headlined by a textbook tackle in punt coverage against the Vikings, Amadi looked to have won the slot cornerback job. In a surprising turn of events, Seattle initially released Taylor and Amadi wound up playing 20 defensive snaps in the regular season opener against Cincinnati.
Since Week 1, however, Amadi has played only one defensive snap in the last nine games and exclusively been utilized as a core special teams contributor. Biding time until his next chance to see the field defensively, Carroll has remained excited about what he’s seen from the rookie so far.
“He’s doing really well. He has been a play maker on special teams throughout. His opportunities will continue to come about because he has been so consistent in everything he is doing. He hasn’t done anything that isn’t good.”
The Seahawks have never been averse to playing young players in key roles right away, though Carroll has seemed more hesitant to do so on defense this year. First-round pick L.J. Collier has been a healthy scratch four times, safety Marquise Blair returned to the bench in favor of Quandre Diggs, and Amadi has been a relative non-factor to this point.
But after returning from a much-deserved bye week, Carroll indicated Amadi has still been seeing practice work at both safety and cornerback and lauded the Swiss army knife for his play making and decision-making skills. Heading into the closing stretch, Seattle would love to find a way for him to become more involved.
“I’m anxious for him to contribute more. He’s one of those guys that has been with us long enough, it’s time for him to get some more opportunities so we’re looking for that. Still a great competitor for us on a number of positions for us for play time.”
As Seattle’s defense continues to round into form, Taylor will remain the primary nickel cornerback for now. But if he’s unable to rebound from a lackluster showing in Santa Clara, Amadi appears poised to take over in the near future.