November 28, 2020

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Akeem King or Ugo Amadi at nickel?

2 min read
Nickelback position still in flux 2 days before...


When the Seattle Seahawks let nickel cornerback Justin Coleman sign a four-year, $36 million dollar contract with the Detroit Lions this offseason, it signaled an immediate shift in their defensive philosophy.

Instead of relying heavily on their nickel package, which replaces a third linebacker with an extra defensive back, the team decided to lean more on their 4-3 base defense.

That decision came in part because Seattle had three strong linebackers to keep on the field – Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright, and Mychal Kendricks.

So far in 2019, the Seahawks have stayed in their base 4-3 defense about two-thirds of the time, one of the highest rates in the league.

The recent release of veteran Jamar Taylor was thought by many to signal a change in Seattle’s defensive scheme, as it freed up dynamic rookie Ugo Amadi to start contributing on defense instead of just on special teams.

However, not only has Seattle stuck with their base at similar rates the past two games, Amadi has yet to see the field on defense – with the team opting to use the bigger, more physical Akeem King at nickel instead.

“I’m very happy with how he stepped up and played,” defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said on Wednesday about King. “He’s been kind of in the background the entire year. His opportunity came back up. The most important thing is when your opportunity is up to be ready.  He stepped up. I think the plays that he made should really build his confidence and our confidence in having him out there.”

King’s usage likely coincided with both Philadelphia and Minnesota’s extensive use of two tight end sets. King’s physical nature allows him to match up better with opposing tight ends, where Amadi’s skill set is expected to be on the speedier slot receivers.

That could make Amadi the preferred option on Sunday night against the Rams, whose passing offense relies much more on their outside receivers and slot receiver Cooper Kupp – who already has a career-high 945 receiving yards this season.

While Norton said he wasn’t going to discuss game plans, it does seem like Week 14 could be Amadi’s first chance to prove what he’s worth on Seattle’s rapidly improving defensive unit.

Week 14 position battle: Akeem King or Ugo Amadi at nickel?

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