Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner: 'Making a Decision to be Great' Key for Recent Defensive Success
Through the first nine games of the 2019 season, the Seahawks' defense failed to live up to their own expectations, ranking in the bottom third of most notable categories.
Even after trading for Jadeveon Clowney and signing Ziggy Ansah in the offseason, Seattle’s pass rush performed extremely inconsistently during the first half, as they generated a combined 13.0 sacks during four of those nine games, but just a pair of sacks during the other five games.
The secondary also struggled without an answer at free safety, allowing quarterbacks like Andy Dalton and Matt Schaub to throw for over 400 yards against them.
However, those issues have been resolved over the past three games for the Seahawks. Seattle’s now-stellar defense has generated a total of 8.0 sacks along with four interceptions and seven forced fumbles during their last three games, with two of those wins coming on the road.
Speaking with the media prior to Wednesday’s practice, linebacker Bobby Wagner detailed how a change in mindset for himself and his teammates helped the Seahawks turn things around defensively.
“I think everybody just made up their mind that that’s how we’re going to be and that’s the defense we’re going to be,” Wagner explained. “That’s the product that you’ve seen in these last few games, us just making a decision to be great, and understanding what that looks like, and what that is, and what it’s going to take to consistently be great.”
Just as Wagner alluded to on Wednesday, since Seattle’s prime time Monday night victory in San Francisco, the defense has played with an increased level of intensity and a better sense of purpose.
Further explaining the transition from one mindset to another during the middle of the season, Wagner indicated well-executed defensive schemes will help a defense become elite, but players must desire to be great first.
“At the end of the day, you have to make a decision consciously that you want to be great,” Wagner detailed. “The scheme and all of that stuff can help but, at the end of the day you have to look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘I want to be great.’”
The Utah State product credited this recent shift in mindset for Seattle’s ability to produce 11 turnovers over the past three games. The Seahawks have only been able to capitalize by scoring on four of those turnovers, but the defensive dominance has allowed them to win all three contests.
“Wanting to do our part, wanting to do something that’ll change the game in a positive way for our team, and really putting your mind towards it, and at practice being more conscious of it, and trying to get the ball out, trying to punch the ball,” Wagner said. “We felt like if we can get the ball, it’ll give our team a better chance to win so, I think we just became a little more mindful of it.”
With just four games remaining in the regular season, Seattle’s defense has definitely come to life at the most crucial time of the year.
If the Seahawks can continue to pressure quarterbacks and generate turnovers at a high rate, then the team should be primed to not only win the NFC West, but also earn one of the top two seeds in the conference. This would give Seattle home field advantage, which could be crucial to making a Super Bowl run.