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Bobby Wagner - The Consummate Linebacker

"Wagner is a blue and green wrecking ball, unyielding and built to destroy. Like Seahawk cavalry, Bobby rides to where he is needed the most." -- The Drunkard

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The stretch of games that Bobby Wagner missed in the middle of the season coincided with the time most fans' confidence levels were at their lowest. Wagner was injured in the middle of the Cowboys game, a disheartening home loss. They would follow that up with an infuriating road loss to the Rams, and then three too close for comfort wins against bottom feeder teams (yes, I know what I just said about Carolina). Just before getting Wagner back, Seattle would give up 190 rushing yards in a loss to Kansas City, leaving them with something around a 40% chance of even making the playoffs.

During those six games (including the Dallas game), Seattle gave up 132 points. In the six games since he's returned, they've allowed 39 points. In the six games where Bobby was hurt, Seattle gave up an average of 109 rushing yards per game. In the six games since he's returned, they've allowed an average of 66 rushing yards per game. The comparison is stark even in passing yards allowed, where Seattle improved from 188 yards per game to 136 yards per game.

Obviously that turn around can't all be attributed to Bobby Wagner. The opponents are different, and Seattle got a healthy Kam Chancellor back around the same time. Seahawk players also had a team meeting the week that Wagner returned, something several players have pointed to as a turning point in the season.

So just how deserved is Wagner's skyrocketing popularity?

Extremely deserved. Bobby Wagner is as complete a linebacker as anyone could hope for. In a lot of ways, he's just a bigger version of Earl Thomas. Let's take a look at all of the different things Bobby brings to a football team.


What's impressive about Wagner's discipline isn't his ability to play assignment correct football by itself, it's his ability to stay disciplined and still put himself in position to make plays in multiple gaps.

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Let's break this down a little bit. As the play develops, you can see that Tre Mason has two ways he can take this run: he can cut it up the A-gap, or he can bounce it outside the guard and tackle.

Wagner comes down and fills the A gap, leading Mason to try to challenge Bruce and take the run outside. Wagner doesn't overpursue his assignment though, and he's able to assist Bruce on the tackle and keep Mason from getting any extra yardage.

Let's look at another example of Bobby effectively two gapping from the linebacker spot.

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This is maybe a better example of how important this play from Wagner is. Again, Mason has two options on this run: he can follow his fullback through the B-gap, or he can cut it back up the A-gap. Wagner is responsible for the B-gap on this play.

Bobby is the only thing between Mason and a lot of green in either of those lanes. But again, he is disciplined and patient enough to stay in a position where he can make a play regardless of which way Mason chooses to go.

Here's one last example from a CBSSports post (trigger warning: Prisco) a few weeks ago. Bobby is a master at positioning himself in a way that lets him make a play in the gaps on either side of him.


Being patient and letting a play develop is important, but a linebacker also needs to know when to shoot his gun. Bobby never shies away from going and making a play when the opportunity presents itself.

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What's particularly impressive about the second play is his ability to dodge the full back, which leads me to...

Shedding Blocks

While he's not going to rag doll many blockers like you might see from some defensive linemen, Wagner is deft at getting around blockers and keeping them out of his body.

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Wagner's above average arm length is apparent when watching him sift through trash on the way to making a play.

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Wagner doesn't have the developed pass rush repetoire that you might see from a 3-4 rushbacker, but he combines those long arms and his short area quickness to beat blockers and contribute as a blitzer.

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Bobby translates speed to power as well as a lot of defensive ends.

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Blitzing isn't the only way that Wagner contributes to pass defense. He does a fantastic job of getting deep in drops and picking up routes ran behind him.

On this play, he picks up Larry Fitzgerald crossing behind him.

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And here he follows Juron Brown, while still keeping himself in a position to come up and clean up the play in front of him.

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And here is a play I wrote about earlier in the season, but is impressive enough that I'll include it again.

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Ok, so it doesn't end well. Wagner mugs Randall Cobb and gets called for a huge pass interference penalty. But look a little deeper at this play. Wagner is in pretty tight coverage on Randall Cobb nearly 50 yards down field! Part of the reason the PI occurs is that by the time Cobb is breaking open he's so far down field that Rodgers underthrows the pass. The results aren't what you're looking for, but it's an impressive display of Wagner's athleticism none the less.

Thirst for Carnage

Bobby Wagner? More like Bobby Boucher.

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In preparation for writing this post, I watched every play that NFL Game Rewind had tagged for Wagner. For every video I included in this post, there were several more that I desperately wanted to include. He impacts the defense in so many different ways, so many times a game. His play is so impressive that, if he is able to duplicate his performance over 16 games, he should be firmly in the discussion for Defensive Player of the Year next season (JJ Watt be damned).