#15 – Bruce Irvin

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Three posts in one day???  I’m like the Deadbeat Dad who only visits you on your birthday but then buys you a pony that my bitch of an ex-wife will have to take care of (suck it, Martha!).

2012 Bruce Irvin was a nice little surprise.  The Seahawks were crushed by the media after they drafted him, believing Irvin to be a reach.  We all know where Mel Kiper can shove his two cents, but that doesn’t mean Seahawks fans didn’t have reservations about an undersized defensive end who did one thing – and only one thing – well:  speed rush the quarterback.  Then, he came out and led all rookies in sacks and we felt a lot better about our first round pick.  The only questions that remained would be:  would Irvin develop into a fully-formed pass-rushing specialist (with multiple ways to get to the quarterback besides simply running around some tackling dummy offensive lineman); and would Irvin eventually develop into an all-around defensive end you could play on every down and who would cover the run as well as he did the pass?

Given how far he’d come in just his rookie year, I think a lot of us felt pretty good about Irvin’s chances.  Unfortunately, 2013 Bruce Irvin has been nothing but disappointing.

2013 Bruce Irvin got himself suspended for the first four games thanks to being caught with his pants down and adderall in his piss-stream.  Which, okay, whatever.  It’s a stupid thing, but one that we could forgive I guess.

Meanwhile, the coaches had visions of converting Irvin into a Strong-Side Linebacker in the Von Miller mold.  A pass rushing specialist coming at you from a 2-point stance to help us generate more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.  Once again, Seahawks fans were skeptical, but if you let yourself dare to dream a little bit, this move comes with a level of excitement we haven’t had in a while when it comes to the pass rush.

The past two years, our pass rush has consisted of Chris Clemons.  Last year, to a lesser extent, Bruce Irvin also contributed, but he would go games at a time making little-to-no impact whatsoever (culminating in that Atlanta game where he took over for an injured Clemons and aided in giving Matt Ryan all fucking day to throw the football).  This past off-season, the Seahawks went out and brought in guys like Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett to supplement our pass rush and we thought to ourselves, “What an embarrassment of riches!”  While Michael Bennett could surely play inside on passing downs, bringing a level of pass rush from the defensive tackle position we haven’t had since Rocky Bernard; we were looking at a four-headed hydra at the LEO defensive end position.  How could we manage to get all of these guys on the field at the same time?

Ah-ha!  The SAM linebacker, of course!  As soon as people start talking about Von Miller, Seahawks fans start thinking about how great Von Miller is.  What IF Bruce Irvin was a mini-Von Miller?  Well, that would surely make our defense the unquestioned Best In Show!  We’d never lose!

So, while Irvin had that 4-game suspension looming, it didn’t appear to be too much of a burden to overcome.  We still had him for the entire pre-season, so we could work him into the fold in his new position through the month of August – giving him game reps in pre-season games – and by the time Week 5 rolls around, we’d have a fresh Bruce Irvin ready to return and start decapitating QBs.  Boom!

But, as I said before, 2013 Bruce Irvin has been nothing but disappointing.  Before the first pre-season game, Bruce Irvin injured his groin.  He hasn’t been back on the field since.  Tonight’s game is the third of the pre-season, with less than a week to go before the fourth.  It’s rather unlikely that we will get Irvin ANY game-reps at the linebacker position before his suspension starts.  Which means that what was once a minor inconvience – Irvin missing four games – has turned into a blessing in disguise, as he’ll probably need all of those four weeks to get himself healthy enough to even start practicing!

Ugh.  All around ugh.  What does this mean for his return?  I have no idea.  Since he won’t have any solid experience at linebacker, does the team simply revert him back to being a passing-downs pass-rush specialist a la 2012?  Do they hold him out on the inactive list for weeks 5 and maybe 6 while he practices at linebacker?  Do they just throw him into the fire in week 5?

And, for that matter, will he be healthy after the 4-week suspension is over?  Will this thing eventually require surgery that holds him out for most, if not all, of 2013?  Is 2013 the great lost year for Bruce Irvin, rendering him a huge question mark going into 2014?

Given the way injuries and such have gone this pre-season, we need all hands on deck when the games start to matter.  That goes double for defensive end.  A healthy Bruce Irvin is a real asset, not just for what he brings, but for what he can do if we end up losing Avril or Clemons for large chunks of the season.  More than anything, though, this team needs Bruce Irvin to develop as anticipated.  Clemons, Avril, and Bennett are stop-gaps.  Irvin is the future.  Missing on Irvin could mean this team will need to seek out more and more stop-gaps in the ensuing seasons until they finally get it right.

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