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 Post subject: Wagner taking the next big step on D
 Post Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 2:46 pm 
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I don't know if this has been brought up, yet, but by my recollection, yesterday's game was the first time Wagner stayed in to play nickel defense. This is amazing progress for the rookie and a huge next step in his career if he remains a 3-down player throughout the season.

Last year, KJ Wright, a good coverage guy in his own right and intelligent player, was held out of nickel situations so as not to overload him in his first year. Wagner, who was similarly held out up until yesterday, took every snap on defense (I'm almost positive), and added the best game to his resume, collecting 1.5 sacks and stuffing the Panthers option offense. Pretty amazing considering it's only his 5th NFL game.

The coaching staff has obviously been looking to add another element to the nickel defense linebacker position, lately. Last week, Malcolm Smith took most, if not all, of the nickel snaps away from Hill and, to my untrained eye, was a part of the problem with our 3rd down failures. He looked out of synch and lost in coverage (which is understandable considering his lack of playing time).

The team looked elsewhere, yesterday, and the search for that missing element may be over, now. Wagner's deceptively fast, lengthy, and strong (which all helps with his blitzing ability I never knew he had), and maybe most importantly, he's young. What must still be considered our defenses "weakness", our nickel defense has so much room to grow and improve when considering the youth and, relatively, inexperience of the core guys on that side of the ball. Having Wagner as a 3-down player this early in his career is a huge positive in becoming the complete defense we all want to see.
:thirishdrinkers:

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 Post subject: Re: Wagner taking the next big step on D
 Post Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 2:49 pm 
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As far as I am concerned, yesterday was the day Wagner really became a NFL starting MLB. Looking forward to him just continuing to get better.

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 Post subject: Re: Wagner taking the next big step on D
 Post Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:04 pm 
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I couldn't agree more. It sort of reminds me of last year against the Rams at home with KJ Wright, where he had his breakout game. I knew he was a good player, but that was the first time where I thought, "He might not just be a good player. He might be a great player."

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 Post subject: Re: Wagner taking the next big step on D
 Post Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:26 pm 
*Scott of Smacksville*
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I don't know if that is a permanent change or if it was because Carolina runs the option from the shotgun. Wagner was their option control guy because of his experience with it in college.

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 Post subject: Re: Wagner taking the next big step on D
 Post Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:47 pm 
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Bobby has been fantastic the last couple weeks. Really have enjoyed watching him so far.

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 Post subject: Re: Wagner taking the next big step on D
 Post Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 3:51 pm 
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He is becoming one of my favorite players (so many on his team!)...


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 Post subject: Re: Wagner taking the next big step on D
 Post Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 4:23 pm 
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Once Wilson starts stepping up into the pocket and Turbin gets a few more (deserved) touches, this will likely prove to be our best draft class ever, IMO.


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 Post subject: Re: Wagner taking the next big step on D
 Post Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:03 pm 
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Not to take away from this topic. I do hope he continues to be a 3 down Lback. But this could have been a one game thing as well . Considering he knew the option offense better than anyone on the team you want to keep your best weapon on the field.


Now I personally think he played magnificent and has shown leaps and bounds each week. So don't think I'm just being a Debbie downer in pointing this out.

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 Post subject: Re: Wagner taking the next big step on D
 Post Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:04 pm 
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Wagner is awesome. Ima luv him.

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 Post subject: Re: Wagner taking the next big step on D
 Post Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:06 pm 
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Erm now I see Scott said that already, guess my post has no merit.

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 Post subject: Re: Wagner taking the next big step on D
 Post Posted: Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:53 pm 
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@Scott, @BigMeach,

You both bring up good points that Wagner might have played all 3 downs because of his experience against the option offense. It was definitely a thought that crossed my mind as well, and why I added the part of this being a big next step as long as he remains a 3 down LB for the future.

The signs point to him having a great chance of remaining in that role, though. The position in the nickel defense seems to be opened up to competition, considering Smith played the role last week against the Rams without any obvious scheme reasons and now Wagner against the Panthers. And even though it's only been one game, Wagner's looks to have handle the added responsibility fine, and even put together his best performance yet.

Playing against the Patriots is a whole different test, though. It'll be interesting to see how the team handles it. If they put Hill back into that role, I'd understand it completely, but hopefully they go back to Wagner after that.

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