The leader of the Seattle Seahawks defense has some massive expectations to meet. Mike Tannenbaum, the former general manager of the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins, predicted that Bobby Wagner will lead the league in tackles during the 2021-22 NFL season while headlining a noticeably different Seahawks defense.
The former GM-turned-ESPN analyst made the prediction in an article on Monday, September 6. He went through and listed his picks for the best receiver, sack artist, and quarterback among other categories while highlighting several players. When Tannenbaum arrived at the category for most tackles, he turned his attention to the Pacific Northwest.
“Wagner finished seventh here last season (138), but he has incredible range and is a true three-down linebacker,” Tannenbaum wrote in the article. “He’s one of the most underappreciated defenders in the league.”
For comparison, Tannenbaum listed the predictions that colleague Mike Clay made on September 3. The ESPN analyst listed Darius Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts as his pick to lead the league in tackles, predicting that the fourth-year defender will rack up 159 tackles.
Wagner Ranked Top-10 in Combined Tackles in 2020
The six-time All-Pro had another strong season for the Seahawks in 2020. He registered 139 combined tackles — 81 solo — and finished among the top-10 defenders. Zach Cunningham of the Texans led the league in combined tackles with 164 while Wagner finished seventh overall.
This season only continued to showcase Wagner’s skills as a defender. He was the only member of the team to top 100 combined tackles, doing so for the ninth consecutive season. Former teammate KJ Wright finished second with 86 combined tackles while safety Jamal Adams took third with 83. Quandre Diggs (64) and Shaquill Griffin (63) rounded out the top five.
In addition to chasing down offensive players with considerable success, Wagner also finished tied for sixth on the team in sacks. He took down opposing quarterbacks three times in 2020, matching LJ Collier. Adams topped the list with 9.5 sacks from the safety position.
Wagner Has Previously Led the league in Combined Tackles
If the perennial All-Pro fulfills expectations and leads the league in combined tackles, it will not be the first time. Wagner has actually done so twice in his career en route to the Pro Bowl.
The first time that Wagner led the league in combined tackles was the 2016 season. He was in his fifth year with the Seahawks and had one Super Bowl ring to his name. Wagner started all 16 regular-season games for the 10-5-1 Seahawks and racked up 167 combined tackles. Zac Brown of the Bills finished second with 149.
Wagner repeated the feat during the 2019 season as the Seahawks went 11-5 and returned to the playoffs. He topped 150 combined tackles once again, finishing the year with 159 while Blake Martinez of the Packers hit 155.
In addition to leading the league in combined tackles twice, Wagner tied for the most solo tackles in 2017. He tracked down opposing players 97 times without assistance, matching Demario Davis of the Jets.
With Wright heading to Las Vegas and other changes taking place across the entire defense, Wagner will face extra pressure to succeed in 2021. He will be the center of the group once again and will have to use his considerable experience to help the team shut down opposing offenses.