Prior to each season, Bobby Wagner likes to write down some individual goals, and for a while now, a 150-tackle season has been on that list, as has leading the NFL in that statistical category.
With one game left in the 2016 season, Wagner is already up to 155 tackles, which is an NFL high, 10 ahead of Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee.
"I've written it down several times, this is just the first time I've actually gotten it," Wagner said. "…You write down things in the offseason and you want to go and get them, but when you actually start getting them, you appreciate it. We've got one more game, so we'll see what happens."
Not only is Wagner's tackle total the highest in the NFL this season, helping him earn Pro-Bowl honors for the third straight year, it is also the most in a season in Seahawks history, eclipsing Terry Beeson's mark of 153, which was established in 1978. Wagner wasn't in a mood to celebrate the record following Saturday's loss to the Cardinals, but he still appreciates the significance of that record.
"I thought it was a really good accomplishment," Wagner said. "I thought it was pretty cool. It was unfortunate to get it under those circumstances—I couldn't really celebrate it like I wanted to—but you really want to appreciate everything. Us being here since 1970-something, it just shows that all the hard work you put into the offseason pays off."
Wagner has been a key player in Seattle's defense ever since arriving as a second-round pick in 2012, but he has taken his game to an even higher level this year, making more tackles, improving in pass coverage while also proving to be a very effective blitzer. Wagner's other written goals in the offseason included improving in pass coverage and becoming more a more vocal leader, all things his teammates and coaches have seen from him this season.
"That's a fantastic accomplishment, an extraordinary demonstration of consistency over the years too," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of Wagner's tackle record. "He has really become a great football player and a great leader and he does everything you could hope a guy would do. He had another big game, 10 tackles again and he just does everything."
Asked what he is doing better this year than before, Wagner had a few theories: "Better position, better breaks, better vision, my drops in coverage are a lot better this year, which helps me on my breaks. I thought I was around the ball a lot before, but I feel like I'm around the ball even more."
Yet for all Wagner has done this season, what might be the more impressive accomplishment than this year's numbers is his streak of five straight 100-tackle seasons, a mark of consistency never before achieved by a Seahawk.
"That shows the consistency of, since you came into the game, you've done things consistently," Wagner said. "That's more how well you've played over a course of time."
Team photographer Rod Mar shares behind-the-scenes images from the Seahawks' Week 16 game against the Arizona Cardinals on Christmas Eve at CenturyLink Field.