LOCALS IN THE NFL

Will Bobby Wagner’s Return Fix Seattle Seahawks’ Run Defense Issues?

Aug 6, 2023, 12:08 PM

SEATTLE – If there is one area of improvement for the Seattle Seahawks to focus on this year, it’s shoring up their run defense.

Why Ray Roberts is so high on Seahawks rookie center Olu Oluwatimi

In 2022, the Seahawks allowed 2,554 yards on the ground, which ranked worse than all but two of the NFL’s 31 other teams. Opposing offenses also ran for 4.9 yards per carry against Seattle, which was 26th in the NFL.

Perhaps not a coincidence is the fact that missing from the middle of the Seahawks’ defense last year was Bobby Wagner, who spent the 2022 campaign with the NFC West rival Los Angeles Rams. While the Rams stumbled to a 5-12 record compared to Seattle’s 9-8 finish, they were considerably better than the Hawks against the run, ranking 13th in the NFL in total run defense and 14th in yards allowed per carry.

Wagner, a six-time All-Pro linebacker, is now back with the Seahawks for 2023. How much could his presence help Seattle’s ability to stop ball carriers out of the backfield?

Seattle Sports’ Wyman and Bob discussed that, what accounted for the Seahawks’ run D issues and what can be expected of Wagner in 2023 during a recent edition of their show. Let’s take a close look at what they had to say.

• Will Wagner play more like he did with the Rams?

Bob Stelton wonders if Wagner is bringing a new bag of tricks back to Seattle after his one year away.

“I’m hoping we see kind of a version of what we saw last year,” Stelton said. “I know it was a brief sample, we were not watching every single Rams game, but they looked to use him differently.”

Lucky for Stelton, he has a former NFL linebacker as a co-host in Wyman, who played nine seasons combined with the Seahawks and Denver Broncos, and is now color commentator on game broadcasts for the Seahawks Radio Network.

“I’m curious,” Stelton said to Wyman, “if you think (Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll) and the coaching staff were looking at film of (Wagner) last year and going, ‘You know what? I liked what they did there with him. I like that they were having him do that.’ Do you think they scouted him that way, or do they feel like, ‘Man, this guy was here for a decade, we know what he does?’”

Wyman’s response:

I think they probably didn’t see anything that’s too different. I thought the couple of years leading up to his departure to LA, I felt like slowly there was something going on between him and (former Seahawks defensive coordinator) Ken Norton that was like, ‘OK, No. 1, I’m going to be out there all the time. And No. 2, I’m not going to be a battering ram. I’m going to be somebody that is either gonna clean up the pile, make sure nobody gets out, or make a play on the ball,’ which he’s really good at. But yeah, he wasn’t a downhill, ‘I’m gonna take on the fullback and blow him up’ (type of linebacker). … But last year, he was a little bit more that way, and I don’t know what they were calling for in the (Rams’) defense there. The one thing that’s always stood out to me about him, and I’ve mentioned this a number of times, but the snap count for him, it’s always like he doesn’t want to come out of the game and he typically doesn’t. So I’m very curious to see what happens this year when he’s out there.

• Wagner’s role in fixing run D issues

Wagner spoke to the media during Seahawks training camp Monday, and he touched on how Seattle can improve in stopping the run.

“I think it’s just understanding your run fits,” he said. “I think what it means by that is that the team is not just going to line up and let’s say you have an ‘A’ or ‘B’ gap, they are not just going to line up and come right at you. They’re going to move a guy, they’re going to motion a guy, and all of those motions change a gap. So you have to know what your gap is after that and just having an understanding. Sometimes they’ll motion and put the nickel into the fit and now the nickel has the run gap or they’ll move the tight end and make the outside guy have to fold back in. There are different ways that the offense does to mess with your run fits, so just being mindful of that, being able to communicate that with everybody and just be on the same page, I think that’s the biggest emphasis.”

RELATED: Seattle Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner Ranked In NFL Top 100 List For 2023

What does Wyman make of that?

There’s lots of times that didn’t get done last year. The game in Germany (in Week 10 last season against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers)… that was weird to me, because at that point they were rolling. They were really good in a lot of different categories and really good against the run. That was the thing, Tampa, they figured something out. They were motioning guys into the box, which creates another gap so you have to have a guy slide in with that, and your responsibilities change. And that’s fine, you should be able to account for that. And I’m not saying that that’s easy, but when you put a defense in, and then you come out and you walk through it and show every different possibility of motion, shift, this and that… they stop and go, ‘Where’s your gap? Here, here, here.’ You should have that down, certainly by the time it’s the middle of the season. And Bobby’s very smart like that. I mean, I think he can definitely help coach some of these guys up. But yeah, unbelievably, that wasn’t getting done. … You couldn’t throw a guy out there and go, ‘Oh, tell me where your gap is.’ But after you walk through it, like, 50 times and watch it on film, yeah, you should know that stuff.

That’s the thing where Bobby can help. You see a lot of times, defensive tackles will be in the wrong gap and the linebacker will go up and swat them on the butt. (Former Seahawks defensive coordinator) Tom Catlin used to say, ‘They’re just like cattle, they’ll move.’ So that’s something that I think (Wagner) can really help with. But it just is kind of mystifying to me that that didn’t get done a lot of times last year. … I’ve said it, I think that they have the firepower on defense. The problem last year I didn’t think was the firepower, either. I thought it was just that they weren’t playing together and people didn’t know which gap they had. There was a lot of uncertainty, especially in the run game.

You can listen to the full conversation from Wyman and Bob in the final segment of the podcast at this link or in the player near the top of this post.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

• Seahawks WR Dee Eskridge suspended for six games
• Rost: Takeaways and injury notes from Seahawks training camp
• Seahawks QB Geno Smith won’t face DUI charges following 2022 arrest
• Colin Cowherd: Seahawks’ Pete Carroll was ‘tone-deaf’ but has ‘pivoted’
• Cowherd: Will Seattle Seahawks make the playoffs in 2023?

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

  • Utah State Aggies Scoreboard

  • Utah State Aggies Team Leaders

  • Utah State Aggies Standings

Locals In the NFL

Zach-Wilson-Jets-Broncos-NFL...

Chandler Holt

Sean Payton Speaks On Zach Wilson, Trade With New York Jets

Broncos head coach Sean Payton spoke on former BYU QB Zach Wilson and the team's interest in bringing the former No. 2 overall pick to Denver.

8 days ago

Sean Payton Bo Nix Denver Broncos Zach Wilson Locals In The NFL...

Chandler Holt

Sean Payton Previews Broncos QB Battle Between Zach Wilson, Bo Nix, Jarrett Stidham

Broncos head coach Sean Payton gave commendations to Zach Wilson, Bo Nix, and Jarrett Stidham as the three QBs compete for the starting spot.

15 days ago

Roger Goodell NFL Commisioner Schedule Every Day Of Week...

TERESA M. WALKER AP Pro Football Writer

NFL Closer To Playing On Every Day Of Week As League’s Reach Keeps Growing

The NFL hasn't scheduled a game for every day of the week. Yet. It's all part of the NFL's plan to keep growing the game and the league.

21 days ago

Fred-Warner-San-Francisco-49ers-Los-Angeles-Rams...

Chandler Holt

2024 NFL Schedule Release: Best Local Player Matchups

The NFL released its schedule for the upcoming 2024 season and most weeks feature matchups between players with ties to the state of Utah.

21 days ago

utah-football-runs-out-of-tunnel-during-college-football-game-2023...

Michelle Bodkin

Best Trips To Double Dip On Utah Football, NFL Games

Utah football starts their inaugural season in the Big 12 which conveniently opens some doors to double dip on an NFL game as well.

29 days ago

Zack Moss former Utah Utes RB Cincinatti Bengals Reds first pitch...

Chandler Holt

Former Utah RB Zack Moss Throws First Pitch At Cincinnati Reds Game

Bengals RB and former Utah star Zack Moss threw the first pitch at the Cincinnati Reds game against the Diamondbacks.

1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

Hans & Scotty's Day of Adoption...

Hans & Scotty’s Day Of Adoption

Join the KSL Sports Zone for Hans & Scotty's Day of Adoption, in partnership with the Humane Society of Utah, on June 25th, 2024!

ksl-sports-newsletter...

KSL Sports

KSL Sports Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the KSL Sports newsletter. Get the latest Utah sports news delivered to your inbox.

...

KSL Sports

Jazz Notes Newsletter: Sign Up Now

Sign up today for the Jazz Notes newsletter. Get insider analysis, game recaps and opportunities to win tickets!

3 kids wearing real salt lake jerseys smiling...

Real Salt Lake

6 Reasons You Need to Experience a RSL Matchday

RSL Games are a great way to spend time with your family with fun activities, good food, and traditions you can only experience at the field.

High angle view of the beautiful Rose Bowl Stadium...

KSL Digital Sales

How to Prepare for the 2023 Rose Bowl

Everything you need to know to plan your 2023 Rose Bowl trip in Pasadena, California. This year, the Utes will face Penn State.

Jordan-Clarkson-Utah-Jazz...

KSL Digital Sales

Notable Moments From The Utah Jazz Season… So Far

At the beginning of the season, the Utah Jazz were second to last. Now they rank in the top 10 teams in the Western Conference.

Will Bobby Wagner’s Return Fix Seattle Seahawks’ Run Defense Issues?