by Daniel Olsen | The first ever Super Wild Card weekend is is the books. For the first time ever, six games were played. The top seed in each conference had a bye so several local athletes who would normally be top performers were not playing this weekend. There were also several injuries from local athletes. This made it pretty clear to me which athletes would make this list. I’ll count it down and offer an explanation. If you disagree, please feel free to message me on Twitter.
Sione Takitaki: Dawg Pound Defense reigns supreme
I will start by giving Sione Takitaki an honorable mention. This might cause a stir with some BYU fans for leaving him off the list but keep in mind that I am ecstatic for the Browns, having grown up in Northeast Ohio. As a team they had the best win of the weekend. While Takitaki was part of the first Browns team to win a playoff game in 25 years, he didn’t dominate on defense the way other players on this list did. He did record three tackles and had a late game interception so it was hard to leave him off this list. I feel he will make the list in the weeks to come though. For now we will give him this recognition and cheer for him to keep up the good work!
5. Taron Johnson: Weber State represents
The Buffalo Bills also won their first playoff game in 25 years and they had some former athletes from the state of Utah come up big. Taron Johnson is the ultimate underdog story. He came from an FCS team in Weber State that is slowly becoming one of the best programs at that division. He recorded six tackles which was good for the sixth most on the team. One of those tackles was for a loss and each play contributed to helping his team escape with a narrow 27-24 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Because of his production and the magnitude of every play he made in a close game, I put Johnson barely on the list. Takitaki, as mentioned previously, is worthy of consideration too.
4. Zack Moss: Paying the Bills
The Bills got an excellent return on their investment in rookie and all-time leading rusher in Utah Utes history, Zack Moss. Moss tallied 481 rushing yards in his rookie season. He signed a four year, $4.6 million contract after being selected in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Moss unfortunately injured his ankle after three quarters of play. While it is disappointing that he will be out for the remainder of the season, he was an integral part of a Bills team that got back into the playoff relevance that the people of Buffalo have been hoping for decades would come again.
He finished with 21 rushing yards on seven carries and caught the ball each of the four times he was targeted for 26 receiving yards. His production catching and running the ball is the reason he is so highly ranked, despite it not being his best day. On his more productive days he might be a threat as the top performer but for now he is just awarded third place for decent production.
3. Julian Blackmon: Jumpman Ju #ForTheShoe
This is the first player to be ranked in this top five that game on the losing end but it was still deserved. Blackmon’s individual production was impressive and he helped make the game against the #2 seed Bills be a closer contest than it should have been. He had five tackles and all of them were solos. This ties his career high for most tackles in a game. I give him bonus points for this because it isn’t easy to knock a grown man to the ground all by yourself in full pads every time. This is why I have him at third on my list despite the close 27-24 loss to the Bills. He will go on to do great things.
Blackmon finished the regular season with 42 tackles, a forced fumble, two interceptions and six pass deflections. According to Pro Football Focus, he is the 25th best rookie out of the 2020 NFL Draft. He is definitely a steal for the Colts as he was selected 85th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft.
2. Taysom Hill: The Swiss Army Knife did almost everything
The Mr. Do-it-All for New Orleans did everything he could to help his team win. He had four rushes for 15 yards and two catches for a total of five yards. Any yards was valuable in a low scoring affair like this. The Saints averaged 30 points per game in the regular season but fought their way to a 21-9 victory over the Chicago Bears. They did have a successful time throwing the ball for almost 30 yards above their regular season average. However, they rushed for almost 20 yards less than their regular season average.
The one knock on Taysom is he didn’t have any passing plays. As a “wildcat” quarterback, I expect him to get a touchdown or at least one decent pass completion to be in consideration for the best of the week. Second is still a great performance and I’m sure he isn’t complaining since his team won by double digits.
1. Bobby Wagner: The Last Boomer
No, Wagner isn’t the type of boomer that is telling kids to get off his lawn. He is one of the last remaining members of the original Legion of Boom that is still on the Seahawks. The Super Bowl XLVIII champion and 7x Pro-Bowl honoree sure played up to expectations. He led NFL Super Wild Card weekend with 16 tackles and had one sack.
Yes, Wagner came up on the losing end but this was no fault of his own. He kept the game close as the Seahawks were down only 20-13 at the end of the third quarter. There is not much more you could have asked Wagner to do. Even with a backup quarterback, the Rams were still a tough out. The Seahawks players said afterwards that they believed this team could have competed for a Super Bowl. This loss would have to be on the coaching staff if true. Hopefully Wagner and the Seahawks can hold each other accountable and work in the offseason to get back to that Super Bowl level.
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