Bruce Irvin is Becoming a Complete Player

Oct 28, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bruce Irvin (51) intercepts a pass against the St. Louis Rams as free safety Earl Thomas (29) and cornerback Brandon Browner (39) look on during the first half at Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

 

When Bruce Irvin came to the Seahawks last year he was the epitome of the one dimensional player. Irvin was a pass rusher and nothing else, which was fine because pass rushing is important and Irvin was good at it. Irvin didn’t start a single game but he registered 8 sacks by playing fairly exclusively in passing situations.

This year that has all changed with Irvin’s switch to outside linebacker. When the Seahawks decided they were going to move Irvin from the LEO I figured that it was merely a way to maximize the pass rushers Seattle could put on the field on any given passing down. However, it appears that Pete Carroll envisioned Irvin as another linebacker capable on helping this team in every facet of the game. While I would have doubted the likelihood of that coming into this year, it appears that Irvin is pulling off the transition to his new position beautifully and rounding out his game accordingly. To give a sense of how different Irvin’s game has been this year here is a look at some PFF usage data:

Year Run Stop % Pass Rush % Coverage % % of Snaps on the Field
2012 23.6% 73.7% 2.6% 46.3%
2013 44.9% 31.3% 23.8% 70.0%

 

The increase in pass coverage can only really be attributed to his position switch, but his overall increase workload and presence on early downs shows that this coaching staff is trusting him to do everything. Given that his original and greatest skill is his speed rushing, the coaching staff is always going to give him opportunities to blitz but it’s become clear that blitzing isn’t all he’s there for.

One thing that stands out so far has been his work in coverage. Keep in mind that the sample size is minute but there just isn’t much data on Irvin’s coverage ability yet. This is a new skill, and so far it’s looks like a handy one. After all, there is no doubting that Irvin has the speed to cover some ground so perhaps his speed will translate into coverage ability.

Targets

Receptions

Yards

Touchdowns

Interceptions

Passer Rating

8

4

48

0

1

29.2

 

Once again the same size here is nothing, but so far so good. At some point Irvin’s inexperience is sure to be exposed, but for now he is at least showing a basic aptitude in coverage which is more than anyone could have reasonably expected.

When he came into the league Bruce Irvin was the purest of pass rushers at defensive end. When he moved to linebacker it was probably fair to assume pretty much more or the same. Instead Irvin has held up in pass coverage and been a plus run defender to go along with his ability to get to the quarterback. In fact, Irvin is the only Seahawks starting linebacker who PFF grades as above average in run stopping, pass rushing and coverage. It’s early yet but it looks like Seattle may have found a complete player in a guy who only had one real skill in his rookie season. It’s amazing the difference a year makes.

Topics: Bruce Irvin

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  • Frank M

    It’s probably not a coincidence that the Seahawks’ run defense has fallen off a cliff ever since they started playing Irvin during run downs. In fact, the Hawks run defense was much improved late in the game against the Buc once they started limiting Irvin to passing downs.

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