Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner was named to 2019 All-Pro team for the third consecutive year and fourth overall. Through all of the Seahawks personnel changes in the last year, the one constant has been the play of Wagner who has led the Seahawks defense in combined tackles for the last three years. Wagner led the team with 138 tackles this year and set a team record for the longest interception return when he intercepted a Nick Mullens pass and returned it 98yards for a touchdown in Weeks 13th.
On Wednesday Wagner met with the media during his weekly press conference and was asked about the Seahawks upcoming NFC Wild Card game with the Dallas Cowboys.
(On where he would rank Ezekiel Elliott amongst the players who are toughest to tackle)
“Dang, just straight into the rankings, huh? No, he’s up there for sure. He’s one of the top ones. Him, (Todd) Gurley – I play Gurley a lot so Gurley’s the one who stands out to me but (Elliott) is definitely a tough dude to tackle. He seems to always fall forward so it should be fun.”
(On what is different about the Cowboys from week three’s meeting)
“Amari Cooper. That’s pretty much it. Their offense is the same but you add a guy like that that you can throw the ball up to or he can turn a five-yard route into a hundred yards or something like that, it changes your offense. Dak (Prescott) looks a little more confident, looks like he’s making really good decisions with the ball and Zeke (Ezekiel Elliott) is Zeke, running the rock really, really hard.
It’s kind of what we did last time. They’re going to try to establish the run game to open up the passing game so we’ve got to do our jobs, make sure we stop them and we will.”
(On how Dak Prescott looks more confident)
“You could just tell by the way he’s reading the coverages, the way he’s getting the ball out a little bit quicker out of his hands and things like that. You just kind of see the growth from then because I think when we played them, it was like game three and I think after that, they were probably like 3-5 or whatever the case may be, and they went on a little bit of a run and that’s kind of what you see on the run that they had, is just him making good decisions. Knowing when to run, knowing when to throw – because that makes it hard as a defender.
If you play too soft for the pass, he gets the first down with his legs. If you try to go attack him, he throws it over your head and then add a guy like Amari Cooper to be that guy that he throws it over your head to, it makes it pretty tough.”
(On why they’ve been successful against Dak Prescott)
“I think just getting after him. I don’t remember how many sacks we had, but we had a lot of QB hits. We were in his face a lot. I think with any quarterback, if you get in his face a lot and kind of disrupt him (like) we did, we need to do a better job on Zeke (Ezekiel Elliott) but it’s going to be fun.”
(On overcoming slow starts)
“I think the confidence in knowing that you can kind of get out of anything. You don’t want to start slow, you don’t want to start fast, but I think that the environment that we have here especially with Coach (Pete) Carroll, just always talking about ‘finish’ and always talking about ‘it’s not how you start,’ so literally when you start bad and we have the confidence that we can pull it together, it’s never over. That’s what it is. We’re very resilient. We always believe that we’re in it, no matter what. I think that’s what it is. A lot of the guys just understand that as long as we have a chance, it’s going to be great.”
(On overcoming slow starts)
“I think the confidence in knowing that you can kind of get out of anything. You don’t want to start slow, you don’t want to start fast, but I think that the environment that we have here especially with Coach (Pete) Carroll, just always talking about ‘finish’ and always talking about ‘it’s not how you start,’ so literally when you start bad and we have the confidence that we can pull it together, it’s never over.
That’s what it is. We’re very resilient. We always believe that we’re in it, no matter what. I think that’s what it is. A lot of the guys just understand that as long as we have a chance, it’s going to be great.”
(On if they hold that same mentality in games)
“Exactly. I think for me, it’s just like, you’ve kind of seen it all. We’ve been down 21 points before and came back. We’ve been up by 20 and gave the lead up, so you just use the experience that you have. We had older guys when I first got here that had that experience and they shared it to us so we’re the older guys now and we try to share it with them that no matter where we’re at, no matter what it is, you’ve got to keep going because you can either win or lose the game at any given point.”
(On Jarran Reed’s ability to get to the quarterback this season)
“Oh, it’s been amazing. I think he had what, 10.5 sacks? It’s amazing but at the same time too, you watched him work all offseason on his pass rush moves. You watched him all of OTA’s, all of training camp – you’ve seen how he was getting off the rock and you’ve seen Frank (Clark) so you knew at some point they were going to slide a little bit more to Frank, leaving him by himself which resulted in him getting 10.5 sacks too.
He’s been amazing for us. His leadership, what he brings to the table every single time he steps out there – like I said, he comes out there and he’s trying to call out plays just like (Brandon) Mebane did and it’s fun to watch. I don’t know if Mebane ever had ten sacks, though.”
(On K.J. Wright making a couple of plays against the Cardinals)
“Oh, it was amazing, man. Especially the screen, when he made that tackle in the open field, that’s when I was kind of like ‘okay, he feels good’ and that’s all you really want to see him. See him feel good, see him getting out there and moving, and it’s good to have him back. Like I said, it’s another person that you communicate with. It’s a brother that you’ve been playing with and I’m excited for him. I think as he gets the reps and as he keeps going, he’s going to make a lot more plays so it’s going to be fun to watch.”
(On watching last year’s playoffs from home)
“It sucked. It was terrible. We had made the playoffs my whole time here since I’ve been here, so when you had that time off, you have to – the first couple of weeks, it just kind of felt like a bye week where it’s just like ‘alright, well other teams are playing and you’re not.’ Then, when you’re starting to work out and get ready for next season and realize the season is still going, it’s a terrible feeling to be done in January so I’m going to do my best to make sure it never happens again.”
(On if he watched playoff games last year)
“I watched them because you want to know who wins. I’m still a football fan. I love to watch football. It’s hard, but at the end of the day, you’ve got somebody on the team that you’re rooting for, somebody that you want to do good so I watched, for sure.”
(On if he pays attention to other linebackers around the league)
“Yeah, I watch all the linebackers. I watch them. I love watching them play. They bring so much juice. They fly around, but I think as a linebacker, you’ve got to watch other people. You can’t just watch yourself because there’s little things that every person is doing that you can learn from, no matter what their age is. No matter if he’s young, old or whatever, you can learn from somebody so I’m always watching the linebackers. I love their linebackers.”
“The speed and – you go to one side of the field and one guy is flying over and making a tackle for loss and then you try the other side, and the other guy is making a tackle for loss and you can just tell that they genuinely love to play together with one another. Every time one of them makes a play, they’re the first one congratulating them and to me, that’s fun to watch. That energy is fun to watch. Hopefully, it’s not happening this week but it’ll be dope.”
(On being good on third-and-short and in the red zone)
“I think it’s just mindset. I think just understanding kind of the same thing with the red zone. It doesn’t matter how you got down there, just don’t let them get no points. No matter what the play is, we feel like if we have an opportunity to stop them, our mindset is ‘do not let them cross this end zone.’ Third-and-short and all those things like that, it’s just like, take a shot.
This is your chance to kind of just get in the backfield and make a play and we do that. Those are like the fun downs, the third-and-ones (or) the third-and-shorts because sometimes they do direct runs, they try to do a trick play or a play-action or a boot or something like that so it’s a play to kind of get a play to ignite the crowd or everybody gets excited when you stop a team from going to the end zone. It’s just really fun plays and I think we’re up for the challenge.”
(On his message to guys playing in their first playoff game)
“Don’t treat it like a playoff game, just treat it like a normal game. You don’t put no hype into this game. At the end of the day, the only thing different between this game and all the other games is there’s more media people who ask you questions, that’s pretty much it. It’s the same game and I think that’s what makes our team so good.
We treat every game the same, treat every game like a championship game and I truly believe that because the minute you make it bigger than what it is, then you start trying to overdo things and you mess up. At the end of the day, they just need to go out there and have fun and everything else is going to take care of itself.”
On if he’s taken the time to reflect on how his role has changed over the years)
“No, I’m not really into reflecting right now. When the season’s over, then I’ll do it. I think you definitely see the growth. It’s something that when you look at yourself, every year you want to see are you growing. You don’t want to be the same person you were last year and you don’t want to be the same player you was last year. From that aspect, I just want to make sure that I’m growing as a person, growing as a man and growing as a player.”
Just how willing they were to take charge. When Mike B. (Bennett) and Cliff (Avril) left, there was a lot of people wondering where the leadership was going to come from in that room. From the moment that we stepped foot back here, J. Reed and Frank was the voice of that room. Frank talked a lot more than he’s talked and J. Reed’s always had that leadership in him.
Again, sometimes it’s a respect thing. You’ve got to understand you got people older than you that’s been here, that’s done more, that you got to allow them to kind of do their thing.
When your time comes, you’ve got to seize the moment and I feel like those guys are seizing the moment. From the moment that we came back in OTAs, they’ve been amazing, been vocal, been on guys, been making sure guys doing their job.
I think that’s what really helped us excel as a defense in a year when everybody didn’t think we were going to excel. Guys like that, guys like B-Mac (Bradley McDougald), K.J. (Wright), everybody’s just kind of coming together collectively and seizing the moment.”