Each week, theScore will go division by division, highlighting which three players’ performances will most impact their team’s season in 2017.
For the first time in Wilson’s storied career, the Seahawks’ porous offensive line finally affected his play negatively, as he was sacked 41 times and failed to build off the best stretch of his career. He remains their fearless leader and still boasts a Super Bowl pedigree, but he’ll need to be at his best in order to navigate a loaded NFC field in order to win a second title.
Some believe Wilson’s an elite talent, while others dismiss him as a product of a conservative offense. Regardless of the narrative, Wilson at his peak is a daunting prospect for the rest of the league. If he manages an elite performance, Seattle should roll to the NFC West title.
Wagner is one of the most cerebral linebackers in the NFL and boasts world-class athleticism to boot. With a preternatural sense of where the play is going before the snap, Wagner is the commander of the front seven and seemingly gets better every season. The 27-year-old was named a first-team All-Pro for the second time last year, and he’s quietly approaching a Hall of Fame-caliber career – a bid that would be aided by a second ring.
While the Seahawks’ secondary has cachet, with the “Legion of Boom” nickname recognized in households everywhere, it’s Wagner who operates as the brain of the defense, along with Earl Thomas.
This iteration of the Seahawks’ defense will be remembered as one of the greatest units of all time, but its vulnerability was on full display when Thomas broke his leg in Week 13. He’d never missed a game in his career prior to the injury, and his intelligence and closing speed were sorely missed during the final stretch.
Thomas lets the Seahawks play a simple Cover 3 base defense, with his acceleration, speed, and play recognition allowing his teammates to be more aggressive in pursuit of the ball. The five-time Pro Bowler is essentially the team’s fixer, cleaning up mistakes made by the cornerbacks and front seven. Without Thomas, the Seahawks are already fearsome; with him healthy, they’re a leading contender once again.
Also from this series
- 3 players who will have the biggest impact on the Rams’ season
- 3 players who will have the biggest impact on the Cardinals’ season
- 3 players who will have the biggest impact on the 49ers’ season
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