Seattle's K.J. Wright posting career-best season
The Seahawks posted a convincing win on Thursday night, with a lot of their players performing in their familiar roles. Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch looked good on offense, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril had several sacks and hurries, and Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas didn’t allow a single catch in coverage.
It might not be surprising to hear that K.J. Wright also had a good game. What might be surprising, however, is that K.J. Wright is having the best season of his career.
Since day one in the league, Wright has been a consistent linebacker for Seattle. In each of his first three seasons, he ranked in the top 15 among 4-3 outside linebackers. In 2014, he had his best year yet, finishing as the sixth best outside linebacker, and he continues to trend upwards.
At a PFF overall grade of 89.9, K.J. Wright has the highest season grade for a linebacker who hasn’t missed a game this season. His 92.5 coverage rating is the best for all linebackers, while his run defense grade of 83.1 is good enough for the top 15.
What has made Wright so good in coverage is his ability to limit yards after the catch. On Thursday, he was targeted seven times, tied for the most for Seattle defenders. On those plays, he allowed just four catches for 15 yards. For the year, he has a yards-per-coverage-snap-allowed of 0.75, which is tied for the best among linebackers who have been thrown at 20 or more times. He is one of just five 4-3 outside linebackers with a pass defensed and no touchdowns allowed.
Along with his play in coverage, he’s had 11 run stops, tied for sixth best among 4-3 outside linebackers. Possibly the most impressive part of Wright’s play is how rarely he misses a tackle. This season, he has 45 made tackles, tied for fifth-most among linebackers. Every linebacker tied with him or ahead of him has missed at least seven tackles, while Wright has only missed one.
Wright hasn’t been getting the tackles for losses, interceptions, or sacks you need to create a buzz, but he has quietly been having an excellent season. Other players around will continue to get attention, but Wright has been one of the reasons Seattle’s defense has been so good over the years, and will continue to be one of the reasons for years to come.