Huard: Why Wright will start at WILL LB for Seahawks in 2020 over Brooks
Since the Seahawks surprised many with their first-round selection of linebacker Jordyn Brooks, there has been a lot of questions asked about him regarding not only whether he will see playing time on defense in 2020, but which of the three linebacker positions he will play.
The answer to the latter question appears to be answered, as Brooks has been practicing at weakside (WILL) linebacker, the position that K.J. Wright has manned for nearly a decade in Seattle. But whether or not Brooks will wind up starting at that spot remains to be seen, though he had some reps with the first team as the team is being cautious with Wright, who had offseason shoulder surgery.
One thought was that Brooks and Wright could both play at the same time, with one starting at WILL and the other playing strongside (SAM), which Mychal Kendricks played the last two seasons. Former NFL Brock Huard said that doesn’t appear likely to happen for a few reasons.
“Bruce Irvin is your strongside linebacker on early downs. That’s just what you’re going to do,” he said on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant Tuesday morning.
Irvin, who the Seahawks drafted in the first round in 2012, returns to Seattle after four years away from the team. Head coach Pete Carroll told 710 ESPN Seattle’s John Clayton last week that Irvin is “the best SAM linebacker we’ve ever had here,” which leads Huard to think that it would be difficult for anyone to pry that away from the veteran.
“I think he can still play that position and play it well, especially on early downs,” Huard said. “… Bruce is, if you’re going to be in a two-tight end set and a heavy package, then (he’s) going to be the strongside linebacker.”
Huard said that any thoughts about Wright shifting over to SAM should be dispelled, and not just because of Irvin’s presence.
“You’re not going to ask K.J. at this stage of his career to do something that A, is not his greatest strength, or B, something that he’s done a bunch of,” he said.
So if the SAM spot and the middle linebacker spot, which perennial All-Pro Bobby Wagner mans, are both set, is there any way Brooks beats out the Seahawks’ longest tenured player for a starting spot?
“I think this is going to be a good battle between Jordyn and K.J. and the first-round pick is going to have an opportunity to earn more and more and more trust and time I think at this stage of K.J.’s career with his body that probably aches a little like how my body aches,” Huard said. “… That would be my hunch is Bruce is strong, Bobby is middle and this young rookie is flashing some things but he’s going to have do it with pads on and when it really matters and if he can gain that trust, he’ll get more reps, but I still think that’s K.J.’s job.”
Danny O’Neil said that it’s a strange situation because while it appears the Seahawks are phasing out the veteran with someone “younger, faster and cheaper in that spot,” the team is still paying Wright a lot of money and Carroll is singing Wright’s praises, seeming to signal the veteran will keep his starting job over Brooks.
“It’s a weird, unusual allocation of resources to have that highly-paid veteran and a first-round pick basically competing for spots and not preparing to have them on the field at the same time,” he said.
Huard agreed, but said Wright is the right person to be in the position of grooming his successor.
“If you’re going to pick any human being on that team that’s a veteran guy to handle this with leadership, with class, truly, I think, wanting the best for Jordyn and understanding in K.J. of where he’s at in his career, (it’s Wright),” Huard said. “Earl (Thomas) couldn’t have done it. Richard (Sherman) couldn’t have done it. I don’t know if Kam (Chancellor) could have done it. Bobby will have a hard time if and when that time comes doing it. If you’re going to pick one kind of stud from that era to handle that process of turning it over, I think it would be K.J. as much as anyone else.”
Another element to be considered is how shortened the offseason is for all players due to the coronavirus pandemic. There are far less total practices and far less fully padded practices as well.
“I think this wacko offseason in this pandemic we find ourselves in and the lack of reps on the field were a benefit to K.J. in that way because they know they need his experience,” Huard said. “They need someone who has been there and done it. And Jordyn is a wonderful insurance policy that may be paid and come due in this season, the second half of this season, or it may not be until 2021 and you get to take care of K.J., who can still play this game and has done an amazing job for you.”
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