Last season, Bobby Wagner took his game to another level, becoming a legitimate Defensive Player of the Year candidate in a league dominated by quick twitch edge rushers and disruptive forces inside. Though he didn’t end up winning the award, he seemed to finally settle the debate surrounding the best off-ball linebacker in the NFL. The second level belonged, and still belongs, to Bobby Wagner.
For an encore in 2018, Wagner is playing even better. His game dropped off a bit towards the end of last season, as injuries slowed him down. He hasn’t faced such a problem in 2018 and is destroying everything in his path on the way to another first-team All-Pro selection.
The soft-spoken Wagner didn’t begin to gain much traction in the Defensive Player of the Year race last season until around this time, when his weekly dominance became too much to ignore. This year, it was a comment from Pete Carroll following the Seahawks’ loss to the Chargers that got the ball rolling.
Pete Carroll said second half of football was the best half he may have seen ever out of Bobby Wagner combining pass and run defense.— Derek Lewis (@drlewisbookit) November 5, 2018
Says Wagner made some adjustments at half after some difficult reads in the first.
This is a defender who was a part of one of the best units of all-time, which featured at least two future Hall of Famers, and he will likely go down as the best of the bunch. And somehow, his best half of football came earlier this season. Less than a month later, he may have topped that performance, dominating in Seattle’s victory over the 49ers.
Again Carroll heaped praise upon his star defender, saying Wagner’s “playing as good as you can play the game.”
In 2018, Wagner will again likely be beaten out by Aaron Donald for Defensive Player of the Year. Donald is breaking the mold and opposing offenses on a weekly basis, so that’s completely justified. But through 13 weeks, Wagner has been impossibly good: Playing over 91% of the defense’s snaps, Wagner has 99 tackles and has accounted for 15% of the team’s tackles—without missing a single one. This is the second consecutive season Wagner’s entered the regular season’s final month yet to miss a tackle.
Incredible became the standard on Seattle’s defense during a historic four year run earlier this decade. In keeping with the tradition, Wagner has made incredible look completely normal for a Seahawks defense that is led by its middle linebacker.