We’ve told you that Bruce Irvin is going to get some playing time at outside linebacker to go along with his duties at DE. Irvin led rookies in the NFL last season with 8 sacks after getting drafted with by the Seattle Seahawks with the 15th overall pick. His new coaching staff didn’t want to throw too much on Irvin’s plate while he made the transition from college to the NFL. They also wanted to see if he was capable of doing what they hoped he could do. That is, become a defensive force similar to what Von Miller is in Denver.
The team made a splash in free-agency by landing DE Cliff Avril from Detroit. Avril tallied 21.5 sacks over the last two seasons with the Lions, adding to the Seahawks already fierce pass rush. What this does personnel wise for the team is that it gives them the freedom to move Irvin around.
CBSSports’ Pat Kirwin recently defined what Irvin’s role will be on defense:
How will they get the four best rushers on the field considering only one (Michael Bennett) is really suited for the inside over a guard? Look for Cliff Avril at left end, Bennett inside over the center or a guard, Chris Clemons at the right end and Bruce Irvin playing the “spinner” role. The “spinner” stands up and moves during the snap count, meaning he could rush from anywhere.
Most NFL teams know Pete Carroll has run this scheme before, [and] one head coach is taking special notice: “That Seattle spinner package will be a major problem for teams visiting Seattle,” the coach said. “The O-line has to constantly communicate about where the spinner is and where he might cross the line of scrimmage. It won’t be easy up in that stadium and it’s going to put a lot of stress on the offensive line.”
Von Miller of the Denver Broncos led the NFL in sacks last season with 18.5. The Broncos used him in a manner similar to the way Pete Carroll and the Seahawks want to use Irvin. Last season, his speed often got negated when he locked up with bigger, heavier offensive linemen. The team would like to use Irvin as a spinner, and have him move around. That leaves offenses guessing about where he will line up and where he might try to take a charge at the offensive line.
This role will also call for him to drop back in pass coverage at times, but Carroll says Irvin has studied hard this offseason to make the change.
”He had a really good off season,” Carroll said, “he’s studied and he did really well on the OTAs, and he looks really comfortable. It allows us to still use him as an outside rusher, just like we had done before. Use him in coverage sometimes, and try to put him in position to really take advantage of his overall ability. So we are really excited about this transition. It’s just a matter of growing and encompassing more responsibility, and he’s doing that really well.”
Irvin will still line up at defensive end as he did last season, but not having his hand planted in the ground prior to the snap will give him a new view of the offense. He’ll be able to see how the offense is lined up and choose which gaps to attack. Since training camp began, Irvin has been one of the standouts for Seattle. His study off the field shows.
He missed the preseason opener with a groin strain, but was expected to return to practice on Wednesday. His status against the Broncos on Saturday night is uncertain. There are three preseason games left for Seattle, and Irvin needs every bit of live game action he can before he serves his four-game suspension at the start of the regular season.
If everything goes according to plan for Irvin and the Seahawks, the spinner role could lead to a lot of frustration from the opposing coaching staffs.