What will Irvin’s role be and what will he bring to the Seahawks in 2020?
One of the biggest pieces of news for the Seahawks this offseason was that 2012 first-round pick Bruce Irvin was coming back to the place where his career started on a one-year deal.
The defensive end/outside linebacker left Seattle in free agency for the Oakland Raiders after the 2015 season and also had stops in Atlanta and, last year, with the Carolina Panthers.
At the start of his career, Irvin was lined up on the line at defensive end and recorded 8 sacks as a rookie. After that, he still would rush the passer, but he played more strongside linebacker due in part to his incredible speed and athleticism as well as that ahead of the 2013 season, the Seahawks bolstered their pass rush with signings like Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett.
But last year, the Seahawks struggled to rush the quarterback, accumulating just 28 sacks, which was the fewest in football except for the Miami Dolphins. Rasheem Green led Seattle with 4 sacks. Meanwhile, Irvin racked up 8.5 sacks in 13 games for the Panthers.
Irvin, 32, will likely look and play differently than he did when he last suited up for the Seahawks in 2015 when he was 28. So what exactly are the Seahawks getting in Irvin and what will his role be? Former NFL quarterback Brock Huard discussed that with 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny and Gallant Tuesday morning.
“I’m really excited to see that. It’s interesting, he’s played 119 games in this league and he’s been largely very durable, especially over the last three years or so,” Huard said. “When we saw him leave Seattle, we saw a guy who got to the quarterback his rookie year – I think he led the team or was right near the top with 8 sacks – and then you saw that number go to 2 (sacks) as the other guys up front took care of that damage (in 2013) and then really from that point on he’s been 6.5 sacks or above (all but once since) no matter where he’s been or how many games he’s played in a season.”
Huard said that since Irvin played for three different teams and multiple coaching staffs since he left Seattle after 2015, he should have more tools in his toolbox.
“He’s got a lot more seasoning. He should have more moves than he had in his first four years here as a Seattle Seahawk and to watch him be utilized and be a key cog and be counted on as a key disruptor in knowing his role in that Leo spot or that nickel pass rush spot and be able to get home and make an impact,” he said. I’m really excited. He’s not way up on my intrigue list like L.J. Collier or Marquise Blair where my eyes would be early if there was a mini camp or training camp, but as far as my excitement, for him individually and professionally to come back home where it all began and make an impact, I’m really excited for his opportunity.”
Irvin has the flexibility to play both linebacker and defensive end, but Huard said Seattle should focus on getting the most out of him as a pass rusher.
“I don’t think they want to impact his pass rush and take him off the field or have him play strongside on first and second down and then all of a sudden he’s gassed and can’t rev it up and get home on third down,” Huard said when asked if Irvin will play more outside linebacker or defensive end. “I think the priority would be to make sure (of the) 65 to 70 snaps in a football game defensively to make sure we do want to play him in some of those run situations because he’s unbelievably powerful and strong on the edge, but we cannot diminish him as a pass rusher, so we’re not going to rob that energy in the tank to take care of early run downs so he can’t be the most viable when they’re going to need him the most to impact the quarterback.”
You can listen to all of the Danny and Gallant podcasts at this link.