Seahawks turn to Jordyn Brooks to replace Bobby Wagner as defensive leader

Ready or not, Seahawks fans: A new era is just around the corner in Seattle.

Russell Wilson and Bobby Wagner are gone, leaving two massive leadership voids on the existing roster. At least one defender appears to be prepared to take over -- or at least his coaches believe he's ready for the added responsibility.

Third-year linebacker Jordyn Brooks is Seattle's new defensive signal-caller, coach Pete Carroll confirmed on Monday.

"It just means I've got to handle my business and make sure that I'm doing everything right at all times," Brooks said, via Sports Illustrated's All Seahawks site. "You go down a list of great Seahawks that played here. Great leaders of the past teams. Take a little bit of pride in that. And so, I just want to do the best job that I can for our team."

The former first-round pick out of Texas Tech has flown under the radar to most of the football world in his first two professional seasons, but those who have kept a close eye on the Seahawks amid their recent struggles know Brooks is the logical and deserving choice to succeed Wagner. Sure, Wagner filled the role for a decade and consistently performed at a perennial All-Pro level, but Brooks was right there alongside him in 2021, recording 13 more tackles than Wagner's 170 to finish second in the entire NFL with 183. Brooks matched Wagner's sack total with one of his own, recorded seven more tackles for loss and finished with just as many pass defenses as Wagner (five).

Despite that pass defense total, the lone drawback with Brooks at this point is his pass coverage performance. Pro Football Focus gave Brooks quality marks for run defense, tackling and pass-rushing production, but a coverage grade of just 43.4 tanked his overall defensive grade. And that coverage grade is still better than his 2020 mark of 29.4.

None of that matters to Carroll's staff, which sees exactly anyone with two eyes trained on the Seahawks has come to understand: Brooks is a quality linebacker capable of taking over as the defensive leader of the Seahawks. Playing alongside Wagner in his first two seasons certainly helped prepare Brooks for this moment, the linebacker said.

"I think that was the best thing that Bobby showed anybody," Brooks said. "Just the way he carried himself, while he was in these buildings. And his day-to-day routine, what he did to get prepared for practice, let alone the game. And so I think that's the biggest thing I took from him."

Brooks is the type of defender who always seems to be in the right place to make a play when Seattle needs it. He stood out so significantly on a week-to-week basis last season, he earned NFL.com's nod as Seattle's unsung hero for the 2021 season. Even as the Seahawks struggled, Brooks consistently produced for Seattle.

Carroll believes that type of consistency is precisely what the Seahawks need to replace Wagner, whom Seattle released in the offseason, allowing the veteran to move south to join the division-rival Rams via free agency. It's part of Seattle's necessary roster retooling, pivoting the group toward younger contributors with the goal of returning to contention while avoiding a significant rebuild.

"There is a vibe about this group," Carroll said. "Every year the team takes on kind of a new makeup and it becomes from the personalities of the players in the leadership. Leadership has shifted a little bit. That's obvious. And so it feels like just as it is.

"It's a new season, it's a new team and here we go. It's fun to watch it take shape and see the guys step into the roles."

Brooks' new role commands a lot of attention and responsibility. After spending two seasons learning from the best, Brooks believes he's ready. His coaches clearly agree.

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