The impact Bobby Wagner brings to the Rams

(News4usonline) – Los Angeles Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner can best be described as Mr. Reliable. Rather, you know when Wagner takes to the field, the job is going to get done. His track record as a player who has played at the highest level in the National Football League (NFL) for as long as he has, speaks for itself.

For 10 seasons, Wagner recorded 100 tackles or more, making 170 defensive stops alone in 2021. Before coming into this season, Wagner had totaled 1,383 tackles. For 10 seasons, Wagner has been the NFL’s version of the tackling machine. Wagner has been able to make his mark as one of the league’s top defenders for as long as he has because he’s been able to stay on the field.

Los Angeles Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner (45) taking a break from the action during a training camp practice. Photo by Mark Hammond/News4usonline

Only once in his first 10 years in the NFL has Wagner played less than 14 games during the regular season. Now that’s durability. Wagner spent the first decade of his career racking up tackles for Seattle’s Legion of Boom defense. It’s year No. 11 for Wagner. He now plays for the Rams, a team that the Seahawks play twice a year, thanks to both clubs being part of the super competitive NFC West Division.

The Arizona Cardinals, whom the Rams play in Week 3, also play in that division. That means that Wagner is quite familiar with the scrambling magic of Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray, who led his team to an overtime win against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 2. Murray dazzled with both his feet and right arm with otherworldly plays that helped Arizona erase a 23-0 hole to beat the Raiders, 29-23.

When it comes to Murray and other quarterbacks in the division, Wagner has pretty much seen it all. As the Rams prepped to play Arizona, Wagner made some observations about playing against the Cardinals and what he has seen from Murray over the last couple of seasons. Murray is a better passer, Wagner said.

“I think he’s done a better job of throwing the ball when he needs to, taking check downs when he needs to,” Wagner said during his weekly remarks to the media. “Obviously, the biggest challenge is him running. He doesn’t see anything, he’s taking off, so that’s been the thing. I think if you let him kind of run around and make crazy plays, come off your guys, not only does he do that well, but the team ignites off plays like that. We definitely have to limit those opportunities for him.”

Los Angeles Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner (45) in the foreground, tries to get in on the takedown of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Marcus Mariota (1) on Sept. 18, 2022. Photo by Mark Hammond/News4usonline

Having practiced against Russell Wilson (Denver Broncos), his longtime teammate in Seattle, there is a natural comparison between both players. Both quarterbacks have super strong arms. Both know how to scramble the heck out of a defense. But this is where the similarities end, said Wagner.

“I think it was different because once it got to the season, we didn’t practice against Russell,” said Wagner. “There’s a lot of things that Russell did differently than Kyler does, but I think it’s some similarities from the way they run their routes, the way they use his legs and things of that nature. But I would say it’s two different people.”

One of the advantages of staying put and playing in the same division is a player like Wagner doesn’t lose their sense of familiarity with the same opponents they’ve faced before. With the Rams playing Arizona, Seattle, and the San Francisco 49ers two times each in a season, the addition of Wagner to Los Angeles proves beneficial to the team and how they play their divisional opponents, Rams head coach Sean McVay said.

“It’s huge. He’s such a smart player,” McVay remarked. “He’s got an inventory of reps accumulated that he utilizes based on the coordinator or personnel guys. He’s got a really special approach. I definitely think he’d probably be better equipped to answer that, but I certainly don’t think it hurts us. Really glad Bobby’s with us.”

Los Angeles Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner (45) is at training camp on the campus of UC Irvine on July 24, 2022. Photo by Mark Hammond/News4usonline

After playing for as long as he did in Seattle, when it was time to sign with a team in the offseason, being close to family indirectly played a part in Wagner’s decision to continue to play in the division.

“Honestly, I just wanted to stay on the west coast and be close to fam(ily),” Wagner said. “I think being able to know the division and understanding the division and be a part of the division, I think that was just kind of a bonus, but it is nice to know you got teams that you’ve played throughout your whole career. They haven’t really changed much from the standpoint, and I get to play against them in a different defense, so (inaudible).”

Being familiar with playing a quarterback of Murray’s capabilities is extremely helpful to Wagner and the Rams’ defense. The task of containing the electrifying playmaker is not easy, even if the diminutive Murray is not as tall as other signal-callers in the league.

“Maybe it’s harder to see him, probably the only thing,” said Wagner. “He’s really quick and he’s a guy that, like you said, when you do try to come and attack him high, he’s short enough to go underneath you and take off and run. You definitely have to be in control when you’re trying to tackle him.”

Featured Image Caption: Los Angeles Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner (45) making plays during a training camp practice at UC Irvine. Photo by Mark Hammond/News4usonline