There’s one designation given to the newest Seahawks player, Jamal Adams, that he likes — President, or Prez for short.
As Adams told it during a Zoom session with media this week that served as his introduction to Seahawks fans, he got the nickname during his career at LSU.
According to Adams, after a game, someone told him that he “was like the President when he came out there and took the game over.” Adams said he “thought it was pretty cool and put a little spin on it.”
That spin was to shorten it to Prez, which Adams uses as the handle for his Twitter account that has more than 716,500 followers.
One designation Adams doesn’t care for as much is “box safety.”
Not that there’s anything wrong with it. Kam Chancellor became a Seahawks legend playing that spot, which is the safety lined up close to the line of scrimmage.
The conventional wisdom is that a box safety isn’t as valuable as a free safety, who is the last line of defense. Teams averaged 35 passes a game last season, the fourth-highest total in NFL history, and teams rushed 26 times a game, the third fewest.
Whether it was worth it for the Seahawks to trade two first-round draft picks for a “box safety” topped the list of debate topics that followed Adams’ trade from the Jets when it was made a week ago.
To Adams, the term undersells what he does.
“The whole box safety (name), it doesn’t even matter, you know what I mean?” Adams said. “Because if you just turn on the film, I do a little bit more than just stay in the box.”
Indeed he does.
According to stats from DallasNews.com, Adams has played fewer than half of his snaps (889 snaps or 42.7 percent) the last two seasons at strong safety, or “in the box.” Of his other snaps, 578 (27.8 percent) were at free safety, with 303 in the slot (14.5), 234 on the line of scrimmage (11.2) and 74 at cornerback (3.5).
Will the Seahawks use Adams similarly?
They’d have to break out of character if they did. A trademark of the famed Legion of Boom defenses was simplicity. The Seahawks emphasized cover one (man-to-man coverage with a free safety deep) and cover three (three defensive backs playing zone and dividing the field into thirds) defenses.
Recall the seemingly annual debate about how Richard Sherman wasn’t usually asked to cover opponents’ best receiver, instead generally lining up on the left side and taking whoever came his way.
The Seahawks have shown more variety the past few years, such as making more liberal use of a dime defense, with six defensive backs, last season.
Seahawks general manager John Schneider said this week during an appearance on The Peter King Podcast on NBC Sports that Adams’ ability to play multiple positions was a definite attraction.
“Adding a guy like Jamal who has that versatility to play down in the box and play in the hole and play man coverage is really important to us,” Schneider said.
How exactly that will look on the field will be one of the more intriguing storylines of the Seahawks’ 2020 season.
Adams’ new safety counterpart, Quandre Diggs, helped stabilize the Seahawks’ defense when he arrived at midseason last year, finding a home at free safety.
Diggs has played ample strong safety in his career (that was listed as his primary position with Detroit in 2018) and as a slot corner (getting more than 400 snaps in the slot in 2017).
Adding Adams means the Seahawks have two proven safeties who have ample experience playing just about anywhere in the back end, giving them an ability to mix and match with opposing offenses the team hasn’t had in a few years.
Adams was used often as a blitzer, which to many Seahawks fans might be one of the most exciting elements of his game.
According to Pro Football Focus, Adams was used as a rusher 101 times last season and was deemed successful at getting pressure 25 times. Bradley McDougald, who was the Seahawks’ starting strong safety for 14 games last season, rushed just 22 times.
The Seahawks haven’t been a big blitzing team. Last year they ranked 18th in the NFL in blitz percentage at 29.6 percent, according to Pro Football Reference. The Jets, in contrast, were fourth at 39.2 percent.
While the Seahawks might not use Adams as much as a blitzer as the Jets — based simply on their tendencies — expect them to find ways to use him in that role more than they have past safeties. (Chancellor had only two sacks in his career; Adams had 6.5 last season and has 12 in three NFL seasons.)
Blitzing takes advantage of what may be the trait the Seahawks value in Adams the most — speed.
The Seahawks felt that was something lacking last season. Remember Arizona’s Kenyan Drake running away from the defense for an 80-yard TD last December?
Adams, memorably, was clocked as fast as 4.33 in the 40 at LSU’s Pro Day in 2017.
That speed was the first thing Schneider mentioned to King this week.
“We needed to get faster on our team this year, especially on defense, and I feel like we’ve done that,” Schneider said. “If you look at the National Football League now, especially our division, especially with all the crossers and talented tight ends, it’s important. With Ugo (Amadi) and Marquise (Blair) and Diggs and now Jamal, it’s a really good group. …
“You have to have so much speed on the back end, especially when we’re playing against (Arizona QB) Kyler Murray and (49ers tight end) George Kittle and (Rams receiver) Robert Woods and all those guys that just seem like they are running all over the place. You’ve got to have as much speed on the field.”
Now to see what the Seahawks do with it.