#20 – Bruce Irvin

To see the full list of the 20 best Seahawks in 2012, click here.

You’ll notice one big name conspicuously missing from this list, and that would be Red Bryant.  There’s a reason for that:  he wasn’t one of the 20 best Seahawks in 2012.  I won’t go so far as to say the guy was terrible, but to be considered as having a positive season, you need at least one of two things:  to be remembered for a lot of impact plays, or to at the very least do the job you were brought in here to do.

Red Bryant, aside from a few blocked field goals (of which I only remember one in 2012), isn’t known for his impact plays.  He doesn’t sack the quarterback, he doesn’t cause a lot of fumbles, he doesn’t knock down a terribly high number of passes.  But, what he was brought in here to do, what his primary objective is, is to stop the run.  And, truth be told, the Seahawks weren’t nearly as good as they were in 2011 at stopping the run.

I can’t blame Red Bryant for that all by himself, it’s certainly a team effort.  But, he sure as shit got a ton of credit when the Seahawks WERE stopping the run at a high rate, so it’s only fair to consider his season something of a failure.  Or, at least below average; I give big Red Bryant a D+.

It gives me no pleasure to rag on the guy, because he’s genuinely one of my favorite Seahawks.  Whenever Red Bryant makes a big tackle for loss, or gets fired up and starts talking a mad amount of shit to our opponent, it fires me up like no one else on this team.  Unfortunately, those moments were few and far between in 2012.

I don’t think the guy was resting on his laurels after signing a big contract, and I fully expect him to return with a vengeance in 2013.  I wouldn’t be surprised if we find out later that he was dealing with shin splints or some damn nagging thing that inhibited his productivity.

On the flipside, I have nothing but kudos to give for Bruce Irvin.

The job he was brought in here to do:  be a rookie, learn from Chris Clemons, and sack the quarterback.  Yes, he was a liability against the run, yes he would go games at a time without doing much of anything.  But, as a rookie he led all others in sacks.  He finished with 9 sacks in 18 games, which isn’t bad.  He showed tremendous speed and he made big impacts on our games against Green Bay, Carolina, and New York (2 sacks each).

I know he was a first round pick, but I wasn’t expecting him to come in and set the world on fire.  In fact, here’s what I wrote back in August:

While it’s unfair to expect the world out of a rookie – even if he is a high draft pick – it’s more than fair to expect SOMETHING.  Essentially, to expect a sign of better things to come.  I’m not looking for the guy to get 16 sacks as a rookie; in fact, I’d be elated if he ended the season with half that.  But, he needs to do something.

Well, he did get half that, and I didn’t lie, I’m pretty elated.  I think 8 sacks as a rookie is a GREAT sign of things to come.  Jason Pierre-Paul as a rookie only had 4.5 sacks.  He went on, in his second season, to net 16.5 sacks.  Osi Umenyiora only had 8 sacks after his first TWO seasons combined, then busted out with 14.5 in his third.  J.J. Watt only had 5 sacks as a rookie before winning the Defensive Player of the Year in 2012 as a 2nd-year man.  The list of defensive ends who started off worse than Irvin, but blossomed into stardom is probably endless.

The stakes will be higher in 2013.  Much higher.  We might be without Chris Clemons, if indeed the Seahawks waive him like I think they will (as opposed to holding onto a guy who will likely finish his season early on the IR once again).  If we don’t bring in a high-priced free agent (which, given the track record of John Schneider, we probably shouldn’t expect), then Bruce Irvin is going to be The Man.  He’ll likely be the starting end in Clemons’ Leo position on the line, and some other young gun will be opposite him.

Which means, we’re going to need to see some fairly drastic improvement out of Irvin.  He’s going to have to get more consistent pressure on the quarterback and take the pressure off of whoever’s opposite him.  He’s had a full, healthy year in the NFL.  The defense is going to be essentially the same under Dan Quinn.  Plus, Quinn’s specialty is as a D-line coach, so I’m sure he’ll be able to take whatever it is that Irvin has learned in 2012 and enhance it.

I think Irvin can do it.  I think he’s got what it takes to shoot up this list and be a top 5 presence on this team.  The sooner that happens, the better the Seahawks will finish at season’s end.

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