The Seattle Seahawks need to re-think their plan at strong side linebacker, and finally draft a versatile placement for Bruce Irvin.
A year ago the Seattle Seahawks let Bruce Irvin leave for the Raiders and made no effort to replace him. They believed it was time to de-value the position and use their resources elsewhere. It is now time that the Seahawks re-evaluate that plan and draft a new strong-side linebacker.
In a sense, the Seahawks logic was sound. NFL teams now are in the nickel for over 70 percents of their snaps. That makes that third linebacker spot a bit of a luxury. You don’t need a guy of Ivrin’s amazing talent level to play the outside leverage against the run anymore.
But Irvin was more than just a strong-side linebacker. He was also a pass rusher, so instead of coming off the field in the nickel the Seahawks could slide him up to defensive end.
Because of that, the Seahawks tried to replace Irvin in a piece-mail fashion. They used Frank Clark and Cassius Marsh to take most of Irvin’s DE snaps, and 5-different guys played meaningful snaps at SAM.
The plan worked… mostly.
One of the under-appreciated facets of Irvin’s game was his versatility. He allowed the team to adjust to situations when they had the wrong personnel on the field.
It doesn’t hurt to have a spare pass rusher on the field when the offense motions everyone out of the backfield and you’re stuck with all your run stuffers on the field. When you have your NASCAR package of pass rushers in there on the running play, having a DE that can get wide and set the edge like a linebacker never hurts either.
On those plays, there was no replacing Irvin. Every time we had to watch Brock Coyle as a pass rusher was one more time more than it ever should have happened. I like Coyle, but rushing the QB isn’t part of his skill set.
That is why the Seahawks need to re-evaluate their plan at the SAM linebacker spot. With the draft coming up, the Seahawks need to fine a versatile athlete that can play both SAM and DE. They don’t have to freak athlete like Bruce Irvin, but they definitely need to find someone who can take his place in the defense.