Brock Coyle makes the most of his NFL debut

Posted Aug 9, 2014

Brock Coyle, a rookie free agent from Montana, held his own and then some while starting at middle linebacker for an injured Bobby Wagner in the Seahawks’ preseason opener.

As NFL debuts go, Brock Coyle’s went pretty well.

Starting with the fact that he did – start, that is, in the Seahawks’ preseason opener against the Broncos in Denver on Thursday night. With two-time leading tackler Bobby Wagner sidelined due to a sore hamstring, Coyle was the middle linebacker for a defense that led the NFL in average points and yards allowed last season during the run to the franchise’s first Super Bowl championship.

But then Coyle has been in the middle of everything – doing most things well, and some better than a rookie free agent should be able to – since Wagner was injured during a training camp practice on July 29.

The question was: How would the kid from the University of Montana and Bozeman High School do in his first live action?

Coyle supplied an affirmative answer with his first-half stint against the Broncos. He was credited with four solo tackles, to share the team lead with All-Pro free safety Earl Thomas. He had five tackles overall, second only to Thomas (six).

But it wasn’t just that Coyle made the tackles, it also was when he made them and how he made them – as well as the calls he made to help others make tackles.

On a first-and-10 play during the Broncos’ game-opening possession, Coyle stopped running back Ronnie Hillman after a 1-yard gain. On a first-and-goal play from the 10-yard line near the end of the Broncos’ touchdown drive in the opening quarter, Coyle pulled wide receiver Andre Caldwell down at the 2.

When the No. 2 defense came on in the second quarter, Coyle stayed in the middle – and remained in the middle of things. First, he teamed with cornerback Steven Terrell to tackle wide receiver Jordan Norwood on a third-down pass that produced first-down yardage. But then, on back-to-back plays in the same drive, he stopped rookie running back Juwan Thompson for 3-yard gains, forcing the Broncos to attempt a 54-yard field goal that Matt Prater pulled wide left.

Four solo tackles of three Broncos, for a combined nine yards. That works, no matter how you stack the stats.

“We truly won’t know until the film (review),” Coyle said in the locker room at Sports Authority Field when asked about his baptismal performance – which was played out in front of a dozen family members and friends.

“But just to run and hit again, because we can’t do live stuff until now, it felt good to tackle again, to do some live, real football again. So you really won’t know until you watch the tape, but I felt good. It was just fun to play.”

And make plays. Just as Coyle did at Bozeman High, when he was an all-state selection as a senior. Just as he did at Montana, when he led the Grizzlies in tackles as a junior and senior – when he had 125 tackles.

Just as he has been doing on the practice fields at Virginia Mason Athletic Center, where training camp practices will resume Sunday morning.

Coyle’s who-is-this-guy story has been well-documented – at, in the Everett Herald and in the Tacoma News Tribune.

And Coyle’s story is far from over. In fact, it appears the NFL chapter is just getting started – as Coyle is likely to start in the Seahawks’ preseason home opener against the San Diego Chargers at CenturyLink Field on Friday night.

“For the first time out, I thought we did well,” Coyle said, assessing the entire first-team unit.

It’s an evaluation that also summed up the play of the rookie free agent who started at middle linebacker.