By Brady Henderson
First was the interception, Bruce Irvin dropping into coverage and leaping to make an over-the-shoulder catch.
Then came the sack, Irvin darting inside then doubling back to chase down the quarterback from behind.
Just four games into his transition to linebacker, Bruce Irvin was one of Seattle’s defensive standouts Monday night. (AP)
Add in the nine tackles he made during the Seahawks’ 14-9 win over St. Louis and you could be excused for forgetting that Irvin is in the early stages of his transition to outside linebacker. Go figure that the guy who was billed by some draft analysts as a so-called one-trick pony did it all for the Seahawks Monday night.
“It’s only my fourth complete game at linebacker; I’ve still got a long way to go,” Irvin told 710 ESPN Seattle after the game, only his fourth since returning from the four-game suspension he served to start the season.
“I had a good game but I’m hard on myself, so I’ve got to get back next week and just keep getting better at what I don’t think I did good at.”
You can forgive Irvin for whatever miscues he might have made during a performance that may be remembered as his unofficial arrival as an NFL linebacker. Drafted 15th overall in 2012 with the idea that he would be the heir apparent to Chris Clemons at the passing-rushing defensive-end spot know as the Leo in Seattle’s defense, Irvin led all rookies in sacks with eight. That led to some head scratching when Seattle decided over the offseason to move him to strong-side linebacker.
So far so good might be an understatement based on how well Irvin has fared at his new position, particularly Monday night.
If it looked like Irvin knew the route Rams tight end Jared Cook was going to run on that interception late in the first quarter, it’s because he did – thanks to safety Earl Thomas.
“I ain’t going to lie, Earl helped me out,” Irvin said. “He called the route out before they ran it.”
Lined up over Cook in the slot, Irvin never bit when the tight end faked an out route, leaving him a few steps ahead when Cook turned upfield. A well-timed leap helped Irvin pick off the overthrown pass from Kellen Clemens for his first career interception.
“I stepped up and made a play,” he said.
Irvin made another one late in the third quarter when Seattle sent him on a blitz and he dropped Clemens for a 7-yard loss. Irvin, lined up on the ball but in a two-point stance, beat tight end Lance Kendricks with an inside move then changed directions before chasing down Clemens and swiping at the ball as he tried to release a pass. The initial ruling of an incomplete pass was changed to a sack and a forced fumble upon review.
“They called my number and I executed,” Irvin said, “I got home.”
That gave Irvin his second sack of the season and even more reason to be optimistic about his new role, as unfamiliar as it might be.
“I’ve got a great room, great coaches. These guys really help me out when I don’t understand something,” he said. “It’s all about getting a flow and repetitions. I’m a repetition guy; I’ve got to keep doing it for it to really become second nature. I’ve got eight more games, so hopefully the best is still to come.”
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.