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There were games where K.J. Wright was the best defender on the field. He tackled like a maniac, he stuffed the run, he hung in there with receivers and tight ends. He was an ANIMAL.
But, there were other games where K.J. Wright would look totally lost. He’d hit the wrong hole, he’d get swallowed alive by offensive linemen, he’d stumble over a turf-monster and get beat on a throw for a large gain. He could look like the greatest, or he could look like the worst. But, more often than not, he was fine.
He was #3 on the Seahawks in tackles with 98, which is a pretty significant step up over his rookie season when he had 33 fewer tackles. I think his goal for 2013 is to get over the hump of 100 tackles, but also to fill up his stat line in other ways.
K.J. Wright led the Seahawks in tackles for loss, and that’s big. That’s hitting the hole hard and taking down the running back in the backfield. That’s as good as a sack, if you ask me. Well, it’s almost as good as a sack. You’re more likely to generate a turnover on a sack than you are a tackle for loss. And K.J. Wright only had 1 sack last year, so that number should probably go up.
Also, with his speed and athleticism, you’d like a couple more interceptions per year. He had 1 in 2012; you’d like to see that around 3 or 4.
K.J. Wright looks like he can be that complete package. A guy who will get you 100 tackles, but will also get 5-6 sacks and 3-4 picks. He’s going into only his third year in 2013, so you’d figure there’s still room for the guy to grow and get better within the NFL game. He likely won’t have to be AS concerned about helping a rookie middle linebacker anymore (if he was even needed in that role to begin with, which I’m not so sure he was), as Wagner will be in his second season, so you’d think as long as he continues to work hard in the offseason, Wright can just be a freak of nature on the outside.
The Seahawks have a lot of nice guys on defense. Nice in the sense that, yeah, they do their jobs well, but how many are REALLY making a huge impact? Impact plays like sacks, turnovers, pass deflections, tackles for loss. Our guys in the secondary make impact plays on a game-by-game basis. But, our guys across the front seven don’t do NEARLY as much in that regard. If this defense expects to be the best in football for years to come, it needs to get more from its front seven, plain and simple. Right now, we’re really deficient in our talent along the line, but then again our line isn’t really constructed to make a ton of impact plays. Our line is constructed to be a wall of widebodies who take up space and blockers while our linebackers run in and do the real damage.
Well, it’s time for those linebackers to start doing some damage. Wright will be in his third year, Wagner will be in his second year, and Hill’s replacement will either be a rookie or a guy who will be in his first year as a full time starter. Our linebackers will be young, hungry, athletic, and criminally underappreciated compared to our secondary. They need to show us they’re not this group of nobodies who get overlooked every year by the more established linebackers in the NFC West. They need to show us they deserve Pro Bowl recognition. And, to do that, they need to provide more impact plays than they’ve shown us to date.