Bobby Wagner spent nearly an hour talking to reporters earlier this week via Zoom. Most of the conversation, of course, centered around the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing protests that continue as we head into the weekend.
But there was some football talk as well, namely Wagner’s thoughts on his defense heading into 2020.
The Seahawks were average at best on that side of the ball last season. Seattle’s defense ranked 18th in DVOA, 22nd in scoring defense, 26th in yards allowed and T-30th in sacks. The one saving grace was that the Seahawks ranked third in takeaways (16 interceptions, 16 fumble recoveries).
“I think we’re hungry,” Wagner said. “I think we can look back defensively from last year and really know that we didn’t play to a level we could have played at. We don’t want to lower the standard. The standard is set. We want to make sure that we reach that standard and push that standard up.”
The jury is still out as to whether or not they took enough steps this offseason to ensure that the group will be better this year. Jadeveon Clowney remains a free agent and it’s been discussed ad nauseam that Seattle is yet to sign a premier pass rusher.
To this point, the Seahawks have chosen lower-budget free agent options Benson Mayowa and Bruce Irvin while using second and fifth-round picks on Darrell Taylor and Alton Robinson, respectively.
In the secondary, they added veteran corner Quinton Dunbar via trade with the Redskins. It was a savvy move from John Schneider that could end up being his best of the offseason. It could also end up being an absolute zero depending on how Dunbar’s armed robbery charges play out. (It should be noted that the charges seem flimsy at this point, which is good news for Dunbar and the Seahawks.)
Seattle used its first-round pick on linebacker Jordyn Brooks. How quickly he integrates into the defense and what his role will be is arguably the biggest wildcard on Seattle’s defense heading into the season.
So while there have been some intriguing additions, there are still major question marks when you look at Seattle’s roster on paper. Wagner, as should be the case with any leader, isn’t deterred.
“How things look on paper is just paper,” the linebacker said.
Wagner pointed to having safety Quandre Diggs for a full season as another source of optimism. Diggs, a midseason trade acquisition in 2019, transformed Seattle’s defense upon his arrival. In just five games, he tied for the team-high with three interceptions (Tre Flowers also had three) and was named a Pro Bowl alternate.
That’s even more impressive when you consider that he arrived in Seattle while nursing a hamstring injury and then suffered a sprained ankle towards the end of the season. A healthy Diggs should continue to be the lynchpin in the Seahawks secondary in 2020.
“That’s just one example,” Wagner said. “I think we have great leadership. I think we are hungry. Personally, I can’t wait to get back out there on the field.”
Seattle, along with the rest of the league, has been limited to virtual team meetings due to COVID-19. But while the offseason program was essentially scrapped, there’s optimism that training camp will be able to start on time. That’s when we’ll get our first glimpse at this year’s version of Wagner’s defense.