JAKE AND STACY

Heaps: How can star Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner be even better? ‘Play downhill more’

May 27, 2021, 11:37 AM
Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner...
Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner earned his sixth First-Team All-Pro nod in 2020. (Getty)
(Getty)

While quarterback Russell Wilson is the Seahawks player who gets most of the attention, the team’s captain and star on defense is pretty good, as well.

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That would of course be middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. Like Wilson, Wagner was drafted by by the Seahawks in the 2012 NFL Draft. In fact, he was the team’s second-round pick while Wilson was chosen in the third round.

Wagner is a seven-time All-Pro who earned his sixth first-team selection in 2020. He’s played 15 or more regular season games in all but two of his nine seasons (14 games in 2013 and 11 in 2014) and he averages more than 130 tackles per season.

Former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps called Wagner’s consistency “unmatched” in terms of NFL linebackers, but he does admit that there’s two elements of Wagner’s game that he’d like to see more of in 2021. He explained what that was and why that’s the case on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy last Friday.

“I want to see him play downhill more often,” Heaps said. “If you look at Bobby Wagner and you watch the film over the last couple seasons, when he’s at his best is when he’s firing, when he’s triggering and reading and reacting, coming and meeting the running back in the hole.”

What Heaps has seen from Wagner at times, especially in more recent years, is the star linebacker waiting for plays to develop rather than attacking the line of scrimmage early. Wagner still tallies a high amount of tackles while manning the middle of the Seahawks’ defense, but the tackles aren’t as impactful as they could be, Heaps explained.

“Bobby every now and then will get into trouble when he is waiting and seeing how everything develops and will get caught having to make a tackle 5-plus yards downfield when he gets into those modes,” he said. “So what I would like to see from him and (2020 first-round pick) Jordyn Brooks at the linebacker position is to attack downhill a little bit more. I think you’ll feel (Wagner’s) presence more often, which will also allow him to make more tackles for loss.”

Heaps believes that Wagner is a fantastic blitzing linebacker (22.5 career sacks) and wants to see him do that more as well. But one area where Heaps thinks can make Wagner really stand out as the NFL’s top linebacker is if he can get his hands on the football more in addition to being more of a force at the line of scrimmage.

“When you get paid $18 million, there has to be an extra level of something,” Heaps said. “It’s not just about total tackles, it’s about the disruptiveness you bring to the game each and every single week. Bobby’s been outstanding, but one thing that I would love to see is Bobby Wagner’s disruptiveness increase this year, and I think he is still more than fully capable of doing that.”

You can hear Heaps’ full explanation during the Four-Down Territory segment from Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.

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Heaps: How can star Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner be even better? ‘Play downhill more’