Twenty Reasons Why the 2019 Seattle Seahawks Will Make the Playoffs: Reason Two; Bobby Wagner

The 2019 Seattle Seahawks are a playoff team. Bank on it. In fact, I think they are a division winning team. Even more, I think they are going to do damage in the playoffs and they might even be a Super Bowl team. No defensive tackle Jarran Reed for the first six games? No problem. Maybe no Ezekiel Ansah for the start of the season? Ain’t nothing but a thing. These 2019 Seattle Seahawks will be locked and loaded on the defense, and this guy here is the Show.

Middle Linebacker Bobby Wagner.


Why is Bobby Wagner the Show?

Simple as butter on bread. Because Bobby Wagner is the best linebacker on Planet Earth. I will even call him the best linebacker in the Universe because I don’t think they play American Football on Tatooine.

Bobby Wagner is a flat out tackling fool. Out of 139 tackling attempts in 2018, Bobby Wagner only had one miss. That is ridiculously good. That’s crazy good. Insane good.

Bobby Wagner can cover like a swarm of honey bees in a lavender patch in July. You better not be leaning over to smell those pretty lavender flowers because 6-0 240 pound Bobby Wagner can drop ten yards on a dime and swat that pretty lavender flower straight away from your nose.

Bobby Wagner can also blitz. Oh, yeah. He can rocket in there, and drop a tall gangly quarterback on his backside, no problem, and with no Jarran Reed for six games, no Frank Clark, and maybe no Ziggy Ansah for a week or two, expect maybe Bobby Wagner to get in there for a few. I got a feeling he is going to get his in 2019.

Bobby Wagner is like fine wine. His game gets better every season. When Seattle won Super Bowl XLVIII, all the talk on the defensive side of the ball was the Legion of Boom. Seattle won because they had the best cornerback in the game. Seattle won because they had the best free safety in the game. Seattle won because they had the most intimidating strong safety in the game. Shoot, folks were even talking about how Seattle won because they signed free agent defensive ends Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett to cheap deals. And then with Bobby Wagner, it was like, “oh, yeah. Seattle has a nice young middle linebacker.”

Well, as the LOB began to break down, and then broke up, Bobby Wagner just kept getting better, and better, and better. There is no question on anyone’s mind who the best football player is in Seattle outside the quarterback. It’s Bobby Wagner, and it has been for a few years now. He surpassed Earl Thomas, and it would be a massive shocker if Seattle did not extend him. They have to. They must.

I think a deal gets done before the regular season, if not by the start of training camp. Seattle has got to keep this guy around. He is simply too rare of a player. This is the guy you build the next top level defense around.

For a while I actually got sucked into this idea of contemplating who is more urgent to lock in long term for the defense, Bobby Wagner or Jarran Reed. For a spell, I was entertaining the idea that maybe locking in Reed was more essential because pass rushing defensive tackles are so rare, but reality kicked pretty suddenly when I envisioned what a Seattle defense would be like without Bobby Wagner, and it felt a lot like a Seattle offense without Russell Wilson. It’s a disturbing thought. Got to keep him.

And if Seattle wants to build around Wagner, the formula is pretty simple. Get big bodied strong defensive linemen that can soak up blockers and stack the run in front of him. Jarran Reed, Poona Ford, and LJ Collier are probably nice starts to that. Veterans like Al Woods are also good cheap gets. Then draft and develop young athletic linebackers Cody Barton, and Ben Burr-Kirven that can soak up his game. Give him a couple cagey vets to play with like KJ Wright, and Mychal Kendricks. Finally, bring in safeties they are a bit more interchangeable in run support and coverage like Bradley McDougald, and Marquise Blair. This last bit is essential, and here is why.

I believe that, in building around Bobby Wagner, Pete Carroll is going to go more back to his college days as USC in that he is going to have the team play more two deep safety instead of the single high safety style they played with when Earl Thomas was on the team. To do that, you have to have safeties that can essentially play both free and strong safety. You see, Carroll never had a safety in college who could do what Thomas was able to do in Seattle, so when Seattle was fortunate enough to select in in the 2010 draft, he built his scheme to fit that; single high cover three. Now, as Seattle was forced to play without Thomas for the first time for most of a season last year, you saw the team sliding a little more away from the single high style, into the two deep zone. I’m calling that the precursor to the 2019 Seahawks defense, and the defense for years to come.

But here is the real rub with playing two deep: it requires a middle linebacker who is as fast as fast can be, and can cover like a mother****er, and that is Bobby Wagner. Sorry for my French, but that is the whole key to making that defense work. That middle linebacker has got to be special.

I actually think it is highly likely we are going to see this adjustment, because it makes almost too much sense to not do it. When Earl Thomas was in Seattle, Carroll had this very unique toy, and he wanted to showcase it. Well now his unique toy is Bobby Wagner, the best middle linebacker in the Universe.

I think this theory might be supported a bit by the team drafting Cody Barton and Ben Burr-Kirven. Both players were notable coverage linebackers in college last year. If you’re going to build around Bobby, you need other linebackers capable of doing what Bobby does. Last year, with KJ being out most of the season, and Kendricks out for a long stretch with suspension, Seattle’s depth at linebacker got exposed big time. That might have been as important for Carroll to fix in this last offseason as adding pass rush, and other things on his list. Getting better linebacker depth, getting more interchangeable and deeper at safety.

As much as I love him, Seattle doesn’t need to keep Jarran Reed at all costs.  I’d love to see him extended because he’s such a good football player to put in front of Bobby Wagner, but if his salary demands got too high, as stated previously above, what Bobby Wagner mostly needs is for defensive tackles in front of him to be stout against the run, soak up blocks, and make plays when they are there. That’s what Seattle had when they were going to Super Bowls, and they can get those guys fairly cheaply on the market. That is also why I think any idea of choosing a young upcoming d-tackle over a linebacker like Bobby Wagner is ultimately pretty ridiculous. It’s a no brainer, you keep Wagner.

Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson came out of the same 2012 draft class. It was a draft class that was almost universally panned at the time. Most folks hadn’t heard much about Bobby Wagner out of Utah State when Seattle spent a second round pick on him, and most folks thought Russell Wilson was too short to play NFL draft, and Seattle had wasted their third round pick. Bobby and Russell fundamentally proved all of those so called experts incredibly wrong, and it is storybook fitting that Pete Carroll and John Schneider should choose to build around these two men a team capable of winning another championship for Seattle.

Bobby and Russell are as special as you can get. You move forward with these two guys. If you got Russell Wilson on the offense, and Bobby Wagner on the defense, and Pete Carroll as the head coach you should be okay, and Seattle has never not had a winning season record with those three individuals.

I’m excited about these 2019 Seattle Seahawks, and Bobby Wagner is huge reason why. I can’t wait to see him play.

Go Hawks.






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