When you think of the Seattle Seahawks you likely picture the blue and green of the Emerald City, the raucous atmosphere of Centurylink Field, and players like Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, Richard Sherman, Golden Tate, and Brandon Browner.
Your mind quickly jumps through the highlights of the past season, with Wilson’s game-winning pass to Tate against Green Bay and Sidney Rice against the New England Patriots being two of your favorite plays to watch over…and over…and over. You recollect Lynch thundering through the opposing lines and trucking every defender in his way. You envisage Seattle’s offense as a hawk, destroying its prey with its blazing speed and piercing talons.
But obviously this doesn’t paint the entire picture of what Seattle, as a football team, was in 2013. The Seahawks were also defensive monsters.
Led by the Legion of Boom, the Hawks managed to put together what some would call a “misfit” defense and go toe-to-toe with the top offenses of the league. Their success, as cliche as it sounds, was made through an entire team effort.
But I’m not writing about the defense as a whole, I’m writing to expose an unheralded superstar on Seattle’s defense who will become your favorite player in 2013 and beyond: Bobby Wagner.
To sum Wagner’s life before Seattle up in a nutshell, it would be that of a player who flew under the radar but was always ready to meet – and exceed – expectations.
A second round pick out of Utah State, many didn’t know what to think of him. Considered a gamble in the draft, Wagner came to Seattle and made an immediate impact, so much so that he was widely considered one of the top defensive rookies in the league and even earned the ranking of the No. 1 rookie inside linebacker at the end of the season.
Amassing 140 tackles, two sacks, and three interceptions in his rookie season, Wagner just missed out on the defensive rookie of the year award but was still relatively unheralded by many in Seattle and throughout the NFL. Simply put, he just didn’t have the “sexy” news appeal to contend with the Sherminator or John Moffit.
But all that’s going to change in 2013 as Wagner will, by no means, have a sophomore slump. He’s going to be a monster. He’s going to become the Russell Wilson of the defense.
As Seattle’s defense evolves and becomes even more productive, so will Wagner.
The Seahawks brought in pieces to address issues along the line, allowing for the opportunity for Wagner to really flourish behind a strong, instead of shaky, defensive line.
Instead of always having to shore-up blockers the line may have missed or providing extra support up front, Wagner will be able to showcase his speed and versatility in open space more this year, as the Legion of Boom will force opponents to attempt short- to mid-range air attacks.
He’ll be able to use his speed to get to open receiver/tight ends in the blink of an eye while knocking them down with his hard-hitting ferocity that will shy opponents away from attacking him.
But that won’t exactly work, either, because Wagner’s intelligence and football smarts will allow him to adjust to any offensive scheme and dominate like usual. That’s just the kind of player he is, one that changes with what offenses give him.
Wagner will also have a much bigger role on Seattle’s defense in 2013. As I mentioned previously, I believe he’ll be one of the leaders on the defense and really translate that into how he plays on the field. He’ll want to prove to the league that he is the best linebacker out there, and it will be that drive that will quickly make him a fan favorite.
Bobby Wagner is not destined for a sophomore slump, he’s destined for greatness.
So, Seattle fans, if you want to really get ahead of an oncoming trend, invest in those Wagner jerseys, he’s going to be one heck of a player to watch.