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|
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.
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.
After about four and a half months, Seahawks defensive end Bruce Irvin is eligible to return to the Seahawks.
Irvin, in his second-year out of West Virginia, was suspended for the first four games of the 2013 season after violating the NFL policy on performing-enhancing substances, according to ESPN.com.
He issued this statement after learning of his suspension, via ESPN.com:
“I want to apologize to my teammates, coaches and Seahawks fans for making a mistake when I took a substance that is prohibited in the NFL without a medical exemption,” Irvin said in a statement released by the team. “I am extremely disappointed in the poor judgment I showed and take full responsibility for my actions. I will not appeal the discipline and instead will focus my energy on preparing for the season so I can begin earning your trust and respect again. I look forward to contributing to the team the moment I return.”
Last season, Irvin played in all 16 games for the Seahawks, recording 16 tackles and 8.0 sacks in his rookie year. He also forced a fumble.
In the off season, Seattle signed Cliff Avril, Michael Bennett and Tony McDaniel to join Chris Clemons and Irvin to assist in the pass rush on the defensive line. So far, the defense has proved to be the best in the league, and Irvin’s presence will only make it better.
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 248 pounds, Irvin is a unique combination of being both big and quick. He can be on the defensive line or back-peddle to cover a receiver in front of the secondary.
Next week, the Seahawks will visit the run-friendly Indianapolis Colts (3-1) in their quest to go 5-0. If there was a game the Seahawks truly needed Irvin, it may be this one.
The Colts, led by Ahmad Bradshaw, have the fourth-most rushing yards per game in the NFL, averaging 149.5 rushing yards per game.
The Seahawks give up 109 yards per game on the ground, 18th in the NFL.
The narrative being pushed by the media this past weekend, both local and national, is that the Seattle Seahawks have a serious and growing performance-enhancing drug (PED) problem. They site the 7 PED suspensions that have happened during Pete Carroll’s tenure.
Unfortunately, the real facts don’t back up this storyline. Four of the cited suspensions have nothing to do with any so-called PED problem the Seahawks might have:
- Offensive lineman Allen Barbre tested positive in 2011, the year before he joined the Seahawks. The Seahawks signed him before the suspension was announced. The team cut him rather than putting him on the roster.
- Fullback Via Taua tested positive just after being signed to the practice squad. He had been a free agent just trying to land with a team before that.
- Offensive lineman John Moffitt tested positive for a substance that is legal in the NFL if the player has a prescription. Moffitt has a prescription, and has had it for years. The only reason he was suspended was because he and the team doctor didn’t properly file all the necessary paperwork on time.
- Cornerback Richard Sherman appealed his suspension and won, something that is supposed to be virtually impossible given today’s tests and testing protocols. Sherman was able to prove that his test sample had been tampered with.
That leaves just 3 legitimate positive tests during Carroll’s tenture as head of coach of the Seahawks: safety Winston Guy, cornerback Brandon Browner, and the recent suspension of defensive end Bruce Irvin. Those 3 suspensions would put the Seahawks right in the middle of the pack with the rest of the NFL teams.
If the Seahawks do have a problem, it is not properly educating rookies on the NFL’s PED policies. 2 of the 3 legitimate suspension have come from rookies, as was John Moffitt’s paperwork problem. Even that fact goes against the accusations of a PED culture in Seattle, since once players are acclimated into the team they are unlikely to test positive.
But why let facts get in the way of good storyline.
The sixth installment of “Obscure Seahawks Bi-Weekly” looks at LEO prospect Benson Mayowa out of Idaho. Mayowa has only been a Seahawk since Monday but might just have a chance to stay awhile.
Height: 6’ 3”
Method of Acquisition: Signed as an undrafted free agent 5/13/13
Years Pro: R
40 yard dash time: 4.73 seconds
Vertical: 37 ½
NCAA career stats: 45 GP, 67 Tackles, 19 TFL, 11 Sacks, 11 FF, 7 PD
Fun Fact: Mayowa’s 20 yard shuffle time of 4.26 would have been tied for first at the Combine among defensive ends with Ziggy Ansah.
The term that keeps coming up in scouting reports of Mayowa is ‘short-area quickness’. Whenever I investigate these fringe roster players I look for the unique talent that made them appeal to the Seahawks and for Mayowa it has to be his quickness. As shown above he had an elite 20 yard shuffle time and the buzz from his tryout was that he was very quick off the ball. That first step is essential for pass rushers and it’s a good thing that Mayowa has it because there isn’t a ton else exciting about him. His NCAA career was fine, but far from distinguished, his long speed is pedestrian and he’s on the small side, even for a LEO. Mayowa may be a one-trick pony but LEO is a one-trick position and if he can use his quickness to be disruptive in the passing game then no one will complain.
Chances of Making the Team
Not bad, at least for now. With Bruce Irvin’s suspension and the injury to Chris Clemons, Clint Avril is the last pure LEO left on the roster. Michael Bennett can play the role but he is more of a hybrid player. On 3rd downs Bennett will probably see time at DT so the Seahawks will need someone to rush across from Avril. Even if they have Bennett line up on the other end there will need to be at least one LEO backup. Although someone else could be brought in, the only three real candidates for the role are Mayowa, fellow undrafted free agent Kenneth Boatright and 2013 draft pick Ty Powell. Boatright is the least athletic of the trio and looks unlikely to figure in Seattle’s plans. Powell has better long speed and a little more size than Mayowa but as a 7th round pick it’s not as if he will be guaranteed a spot on the roster. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Seahawks bring in John Abraham to help them get through this pass rushing crisis, but he may not be inclined to sign what would amount to a 4 game contract. The door seems to be wide open for Mayowa while Irvin is out but I think there will probably be another move because I doubt a serious contender like the Seahawks would leave such an important role to such unproven players. Arbitrary Estimates: 25% chance of making the team, 35% of making the practice squad.
The NFL announced today that Seattle Seahawks defensive end Bruce Irvin has ben suspended for the first 4 games of the 2013 season for violations of the league’s substance abuse policy. It is unknown what substance he tested positive for at this time. Irvin has announced that he will not appeal the suspension.
This statement from Irvin was released though the team:
“I want to apologize to my teammates, coaches and Seahawks fans for making a mistake when I took a substance that is prohibited in the NFL without a medical exemption. I am extremely disappointed in the poor judgment I showed and take full responsibility for my actions. I will not appeal the discipline and instead will focus my energy on preparing for the season so I can begin earning your trust and respect again. I look forward to contributing to the team the moment I return.”
The suspension to start the season will hurt Seattle more than if it had come later in the year. Fellow DE Chris Clemons is likely to begin the year on the Physically Unable To Perform list as he works back from a torn ACL injury. That means that the Seahawks will begin the season without their top 2 sack leaders from last season.
The Seahawks signed both Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett this past offseason to help with the pass rush, but they now appear to need additional help for the first 4 games. I wonder if John Abraham’s price has come down enough that John Schneider will consider adding him.
After dominating the latter part of the 2012 NFL season, and going 11-5 it was fair to expect the Seattle Seahawks to stay mostly still during the 2013 free agency period and let the market sort out before signing any free agents outside of their own.
Many expected them to sign a pass rusher after only recording two sacks in two playoff games. Starting DE/OLB Chris Clemons tore his ACL during a playoff game against the Washington Redskins leaving rookie Bruce Irvin as the only pass rushing defensive lineman on the roster. This change resulted in no pressure against Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons. Their season ended at the Georgia Dome after the Falcons marched downfield with less than a minute left to kick a game winning field goal.
Seattle has answered the pass rushing problem very aggressively in free agency by signing former Detroit defensive end Cliff Avril and Tampa Bay DE/DT Michael Bennett. Together they combined for 18.5 sacks. Both Free agents expected to get big deals in the market but a tight salary cap for NFL has led to a slower market. Avril signed a two year deal worth
15 million. Bennett took a one year deal worth just five million.
Seattle now has a full arsenal of defensive linemen who can rush the passer. The only question is where can they all play? Many have looked at the New York Giants NASCAR package which uses four defensive ends on the line of scrimmage. I believe Pete Carroll and the staff will take this approach with the Seahawks’ defense on passing downs. The NASCAR package requires two who are fast and strong enough to play inside and create pressure up the middle, while the smaller defensive ends create a rush from the outside.
Seattle has the player personnel to do so. The player personnel for Seattle during the NASCAR package would be (Left to Right); Irvin, Clemons, Bennett and Avril. When this group of four potential threats is on the field together, their height and weight average out at 6’4” 259 pounds. The Giants NASCAR package which included; Jason Pierre-Paule, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, and Mathias Kiwanuka average out to 6’5” 267 pounds. While there may be a size difference in the Giants NASCAR package, the Seahawks have the advantage of youth and speed on their team.
It will be difficult to know for sure the package Seattle will send out on passing situations when the season starts, but it is intriguing to think about.
Tags: Advanced Analysis, Bruce Irvin, Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril, featured, football, Jason Pierre-Paule, Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, Michael Bennett, New York Giants, News, nfl, Osi Umenyiora, Popular, Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks
One of the biggest topics surrounding the Seahawks this week is the how the team will be affected by the loss of star pass rusher Chris Clemons. Although there is a great deal of venom to be spewed on the topic of FedEx field’s substandard conditions, for me it just is what it is. Injuries happen, and truth be told the Seahawks have been remarkable healthy this year and have very little to complain about in that regard. Clemons is the first major contributor (I guess you could make an argument for Jason Jones but I think it would be a stretch) the Seahawks have lost to injury this year. A good team, a team in the last final eight vying for the Super Bowl, needs to have the depth to overcome the loss of a single player. Now one could argue that Clemons is a particularly indispensable player for Seattle because defensive end is not one of their areas of depth, but he is one player nonetheless.
The obvious option for filling the Clemons hole is putting in rookie Bruce Irvin, and that’s exactly what the Seahawks are going to do. Irvin will slot in at Clemons’s spot at Leo with question marks about his ability to hold up against the run. I thought he looked just fine after Clemons left last week but I think that’s what people call a small sample size. The fact of the matter is that Irvin is not a known quantity when it comes to run defense. Luckily he isn’t up for the biggest challenge in that department.
There is this perception that Atlanta can really run the ball and in 2012 it couldn’t be more wrong. Atlanta, a team ahead in games often that should have been running the ball more than average, was 29th in the league in rushing yards per game and tied for 31st in first downs on the ground. Tellingly they were 28th in yards per carry, led by the aging Michael Turner (3.6 ypc) and the supposedly explosive but limited Jacquizz Rodgers (3.9 ypc). To give you another perspective the Falcons had the 31st ranked Run EPA/play in the NFL at -0.10, meaning that, on average, after the Atlanta Falcons completed a running play the team was in a situation where they were likely to score a tenth of a point less than before the play was run. These aren’t you’re the Falcons of yesteryear (literally 2011) that could cram the ball down your throat.
The thing is that even if Irvin struggles against Atlanta’s fairly dismal run game Seattle can put in Scruggs on early downs and he will likely be effective in that role. Though this might open up some early-down passing opportunities for the Falcons I think that by and large some combination of Irvin-Scruggs (the more Irvin the better) can be a reasonable facsimile of Clemons. Instead what the Seahawks need to concern themselves with is who fills Irvin’s role as the second pass rusher on passing downs. This is where the Seahawks find themselves in a spot of bother, as it were. If Irvin is the only threat he can be double teamed and Matt Ryan can enjoy a clean pocket from which he can hit Roddy White and Julio Jones downfield.
This article will address two of the names that have been brought up as potential pass rushing replacements for Clemons: Free Agent Ray Edwards and the improbable Mike Morgan. It may well happen that one of these two could be the unlikely hero for the Seahawks on Sunday, an idea that was unfathomable merely days ago.
First up is the (sort of) known quantity, former Falcon Ray Edwards. Edwards is best known for a two year stretch (2009-2010) where he put up 16.5 sacks and was thought to be a complete DE worthy of a big contract. Atlanta gave him that contract, received 3.5 sacks from him in 25 games and sent him packing earlier this year. Edwards is on the radar largely because he worked out with the Seahawks earlier this year and the fact he is a recognizable name to many NFL fans, something that cannot be said for other street free agents and the internal options Seattle have. Let’s give it the classic, but never out of style, pro-con analysis.
Pros: Edwards is still relatively young at 28 and has been durable throughout his career (never having played less than 12 games in a season) suggesting that his physical skills should still be intact. He has been successful at the NFL level and has a lengthy track record with 33 sacks in his career. Edwards at 6-4 270 has the requisite size to play on any down so if Irvin struggles against the run he could also fit in there while offering more pass rush ability from the DE spot than Scruggs would have. He could be extra motivated to play against the team that recently cut him (I know that’s pure speculation but I know I would be in his shoes). Ray Edwards is also a professional boxer with a career record of 1-0, which is pretty cool.
Cons: Edwards has been extraordinarily unproductive over the last two years after signing a 5 year contract with the Falcons prior to 2011. The Falcons really aren’t in the business of releasing good players given that they are going for a Super Bowl run so releasing him was not merely a cost-cutting measure. No other team has picked up Edwards to this point.
Overall I think you could do worse than Edwards. If he was a couple of years older I wouldn’t touch him, but maybe he just wasn’t a fit in Atlanta for whatever reason. He still likely possesses the athleticism that made him effective and he can play on any down. He’s the sort of guy Seattle could catch lightning in a bottle with, which is exactly what they need.
The other option I’ll be highlighting today is virtual unknown/backup linebacker (or so we thought) Mike Morgan. Morgan is a player that Pete Carroll knows from his USC days who perhaps was kept around due to his versatility and potential to play Leo on passing downs although I must confess that Carroll speaking about that possibility this week is the first I recall hearing about it. There isn’t that much information floating around about Morgan, for understandable reasons, but I’ll do my best to whip out the virtual legal pad for another pro-con.
Pros: The man is fast (4.47 40), like Bruce Irvin fast. Morgan put up a very impressive 27 reps on the bench press in the past suggesting that he may be stronger than his raw size would suggest. Coming out of high school some pegged Morgan as a potential Dwight Freeney-like speed rushing end. Pete Carroll knows more about Morgan than we do and figures he might be worth a look.
Cons: Morgan is an utter unknown at the position/basically in general. He has been playing, and presumably practicing at LB all year. He is really small (6’3 226) to be lining up at DE, even for a passing situation and you wouldn’t even think of putting him in if there was the remotest chance the Falcons were going to run the ball. His athletic profile is like Irvin minus 20 pounds and a little bit of short are quickness so concerns we have about Bruce getting blown out wide or physically overpowered by OT’s can basically be doubled for Morgan.
You will notice that I did not include my thoughts on putting Wagner or Wright in to rush the passer because, although that has been mentioned, I don’t think it’s wise to compromise the pass coverage in that manner, especially with Atlanta having the still effective Tony Gonzalez at TE. Overall I’d rather see the Seahawks sign Edwards because I think having two pure speed guys like Irvin and Morgan could be problematic and Morgan scares me because I have no idea what he can do. However, if Pete Carroll goes with Morgan or one of the LB’s I will trust him because this season he has most certainly earned my trust. What I don’t want to see is Carroll throw Scruggs opposite Irvin on passing downs and limit the Seahawks to one pass rushing threat and, as a result, an impotent pass rush. I haven’t outlined all the options here, just two that I have heard discussed, in all likelihood Pete Carroll and Gus Bradley have cooked up an alternative idea that hasn’t even occurred to us yet. That’s just the sort of guys they are.
Multiple reports tonight say that the Seahawks think that DE Chris Clemons has a torn ACL and will be out for the remainder of the playoffs. He is schedule to have an MRI Monday morning.
I’m not sure who to credit with breaking this first as I’ve seen it form a lot of people (I saw it first on NFL.com). I don’t like not giving credit for stories like this. I’m not there, and certainly not breaking this story, I’m just trying to pass it along.
If Clemons is indeed out, rookie first round pick Bruce Irvin will get the start at the Leo DE position. Irvin took over there in the 4th quarter after the Clemons injury, and looked solid rushing the QB.
It remains to be seen if Irvin can hold up against the run. At this point, he in considered a 1 dimensional pass rusher. That’s not a good sign considering the Seahawks will be facing Michael Turner in Atlanta next week. Don’t be surprised if DE/DT Greg Scruggs gets snaps in that spot in obvious running situations.
The Seahawks currently only have 4 DE on the roster including Clemons. I expect that they will sign a pass rusher early in the week if Clemons is indeed going to be out.
Don’t be surprised if it turns out to be former Falcon’s standout DE Ray Edwards who was released earlier in the year. He worked out for the Seahawks back around Christmas, but the Seahawks decided to add a LB instead since LeRoy Hill and Malcom Smith were both injured.
With the regular-season over, I thought I’d look back at the predictions I made before the regular season started. This was the first time I’d done NFC West predictions and it was more difficult than I thought it would be. Even reading the hometown newspapers and scouting the team’s fan websites, getting the predictions right for a team over an entire season was a lot harder than picking week to week game winners or managing a fantasy team.
One of the things I wasn’t able to predict was what a powerhouse the NFC West would become throughout the season. From teams like the Cardinals starting off 4 and 0, to the scrappy repuation of the Rams, to the “team that no one wants to play” nickname that got hung on the Seahawks to the flawless defense of the 49ers… The NFC West definitely made a name for itself this year. So let’s look back and see what I predicted!
Number 4- Arizona Cardinals – Even their own fan base is down on the Cards. With a tough schedule at the start including Seattle, Philly and New England, the Card’s iffy QB and lackluster O-Line will be challenged as they come out of the gate. Even the end of the season schedule does them no favors with an away game to Seattle, playing Chicago and Detroit at home and then finishing at San Fran. This team will be truly tested. Expect to see Kalb playing again as Skelton struggles. Even with a few surprise wins during the season, the Cards will be in the bottom of the NFC west this year.
Note: I’ll take this. The cards did have some surprise wins but their schedule and QB injuries were far more than they could handle.
Number 3- St Louis Rams – The Ram’s youth as team remains a question mark for this season even as QB Sam Bradford settles into his job as somewhat of an elder statesman as a two year man. As the youngest team in the NFL, there have been plenty of jokes regarding Fruit Loops and Cartoons at the hotel… But, this team has done a drastic restructure and is prepared to live with the consequences. There are 17 rookies on the St. Louis Rams’ opening day roster, seven more players age 24 or younger and 31 in all on the 53-man roster who were not with the franchise last season. Expect to see flashes of brilliance as well as plenty of penalties in the first part of the season as the team gels. The Rams will finish behind the dual powerhouses of Seattle and San Fran.
Note: I’ll take this one too! The Rams did show flashes of brilliance and despite the strong efforts of Sam Bradford they did finish a good distance behind Seattle and San Fran (Although their gutsy play against San Fran got them the tie this year, which was very impressive!)
Number 2 – San Francisco 49ers – While there are any number of claims that the opening 49er/packer game may be a preview of the NFC playoff, there are those in the club house wondering if things will go as smoothly this year as they did last year. In an effort to keep their NFC west champ status, the 49ers brought in Moss and Manningham to help Smith improve his passing performance that was 29th out of 32 last year. With a top ranked D to fall back on should offense become stagnant, expect the 49ers to be competitive. Their real challenge will be remaining consistent as 4 of their last 6 games are on the road. Their D will keep them in 2nd place behind the Seahawks.
Number 1 – Seattle Seahawks – After the changes made in the off-season, it’s hard to say the Hawks won’t take their division. Unlike other teams wondering which QB to start, Seattle has two excellent options instead of “the lesser of two evils”. Russell Wilson has shown excellent skills and preparation and has a fascinating group of receivers to throw to including free agent Braylon Edwards who was sterling in preseason. Factor that in with the improved O-line (Hello JR Sweezy!), the improved running game (Mr. Turbin) and the strength of the Hawks D, and you have the team most likely to win the west! While their passing D was ranked 11th last year, expect that to be even more improved this year with the addition of Bruce Irvin and his outside speed when he rushes the passer. The Hawks secondary is loaded with pro bowl level talent (Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner and Kam Chancellor – otherwise known as the Legion of Boom) and should give opposing QBs nightmares. Expect the Seahawks to take this division despite closely contested games with the 49ers.
Note: I totally got the order wrong between San Fran and the Seahawks. I knew it would be close but I erred on my estimate regarding how long it would take Russell Wilson to become proficient. I also missed the contribution Bobby Wagner made and I didn’t consider that the 49ers wouldn’t start Smith as QB all season. Even with those miscalculations, I was only off by half a game on the final result.
It will be very interesting to look at the NFC West prior to the beginning of next year’s regular-season. With the Cardinals replacing their coach, I’m looking for a lot of changes with that team. The Rams should further solidify and I look for them to play their division even tougher than they did this year. The Seattle/ San Fran rivalry should continue to fuel fan bases in both regions. Expect gutsy, hard-hitting, take – no – prisoners games between these two franchises next year.
If you had to pick a division winner for next year right now, who would you pick?
With the regular season swiftly coming to a close, Seahawks fans have to be fairly satisfied with where Seattle sits at this point in time. In fact it would be fair to say that the Seahawks have been surprisingly good this year. We all knew about the elite defense but the young offense under the direction of Russell Wilson has exceeded expectations by improving steadily throughout the year. We are at a point now where the Seahawks offense is excelling, coming off three straight 40+ point performances. The Hawks have scored the 8th most points in the league and allowed the least suggesting that they are one of the top teams in the NFL. Not many would have seen the Seahawks as an elite squad going in to 2012, including yours truly who would have filed them under “decent, exciting, but flawed”, a category that includes a good portion of the league. I could have written an entire article outlining just how great the 10-5 Hawks have been, especially recently, with the headline “Wow these Seahawks Sure Are Great!” but somehow I think that would have lacked analytical depth. Instead, today I tackle what I consider to be the biggest reason why the Seahawks have been so much better than expected this year: the contributions of the 2012 draft class.
Now, before we get started, I thought it might be nice to refresh our collective memory as to how Pete Carroll and John Schneider’s draft was received by pundits at the time. I do this to highlight the folly of trying to analyze drafts before any of the players play a down in the NFL, and also to show how the Seahawks succeeded by flying in the face of conventional wisdom and the consensus of the scouting community. Below are a couple quotations slamming our 2012 draft class.
“Their entire draft was one shocker after another.”- John Czarnecki- foxsports.com (too be fair he did give a B grade)
“The Seahawks went bonkers and picked Bruce Irvin at 15. Could he develop into a solid pass-rusher? Sure, but this was a spit take-inducing selection. LB Bobby Wagner (47) and RB Robert Turbin (106), both from Utah State, will help, and QB Russell Wilson (74) has a bright future, even if Seattle didn’t really need him. Everything else was … very … blah. Grade: C”- Chris Burke- si.com
“It is hard to look past Bruce Irvin at 15th overall. Irvin is one dimensional and while he does that one thing really well, it is not the more complete player teams hope to find in the 1st half of the 1st round. Seattle did little post-Irvin to make up for the blunder in the subsequent rounds. Grade: D-” – Jonnie Stoneberg- fftoolbox.com
Not all reactions were openly hostile, but even the biggest fans of the draft class seemed to have a “wait and see” attitude about it. Hindsight is 20-20 and there are some intelligent football writers quoted here; my goal isn’t to try and expose them as frauds or poor prognosticators. Instead I just mean to show that the perception and the reality about the 2012 Seahawks draft class ended up being extremely divergent. As a result, one of the reasons the Seahawks have been so much better than expected this year is because their rookies have exceeded expectations by such a significant margin. Let’s take a look at what this underrated draft class has done for the Seahawks in 2012:
1st Pick, 1st Round, 15th Overall: Bruce Irvin.
I wrote an article earlier this year saying how Bruce Irvin has been pretty much exactly as advertised (http://12thmanrising.com/2012/10/10/he-is-who-we-thought-he-was-an-early-take-on-bruce-irvin/) and it think it pretty much holds true at this moment. Irvin has 8 sacks and 17 quarterback hits but offers little else other than pass rushing so far (16 total tackles, half of which have come on his sacks). He is a raw, pure, undersized pass rusher so this is not altogether unexpected. Irvin has met expectations and been productive without being an absolute stud. Considering how many thought he would be a bust it would be hard not to qualify this pick as a success.
2nd Pick, 2nd Round, 47th Overall: Bobby Wagner
Speaking of absolute studs….. Bobby Wagner. Wagner has made some big plays this year with 2 sacks and 3 interceptions but more importantly he has been a consistent and intimidating presence stopping the run. Wagner has 129 total tackles, 9 for a loss and a tackle factor of 1.50 (tied for 6th in the NFL). Wagner has been the unsung hero of the Seahawks defense in my opinion and has to be one of the top candidates for Defensive Rookie of the Year. Big win for Seattle’s front office.
3rd Pick, 3rd Round, 75th Overall: Russell Wilson
What else can be said about Russell Wilson? Even the most optimistic Wilson supporters could not have seen the season he has had coming. The diminutive QB has not put up massive yardage totals like Andrew Luck due to the run-heavy offense Seattle runs but he has been very efficient and effective. Russell Wilson has been deadly in the redzone and stands to tie or break the rookie passing TD record as he sits only 1 behind Peyton Manning’s 26, set in 1998. Wilson has also been great running the ball, especially using the read-option, with over 400 yards and 3 touchdowns. He has been all Seahawks fans could have asked for and more and I’m going to stop right there before I start to sound like John Gruden.
4th Pick, 4th Round, 106th Overall: Robert Turbin
Turbin, or the Sea-Hulk, has been an excellent addition to the Seahawk’s offense. He has brought a powerful, almost Beast Mode like, presence to the running game whenever Lynch is on the sidelines. As the Seahawks have been making a habit of blowing out opponents, Turbin’s role has only been increasing. With 4.6 yards a carry and surprising effectiveness in the passing game, both blocking and catching, Seahawks fans can be very comfortable when Turbin enters the game. What he lacks in breakaway speed he makes up for in virtually everything else. I’m convinced Turbin could start for quite a few teams in this league and he is both an effective role player and a premium Marshawn Lynch insurance policy. Quite the 4th round find.
5th pick, 4th round, 114th Overall: Jaye Howard
Howard is the first pick that could be considered even remotely disappointing. Considering he is the 5th pick in this class that is really saying something. At the time Howard was considered a value choice with some real upside but while he remains on the roster but has yet to crack the DT rotation. On his Wikipedia page under professional career all it says is, “He was selected in the fourth round, 114 overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft.” Enough said.
6th pick, 5th round, 154th overall: Korey Toomer
Toomer did not make the 2012 Seahawks and was considered a fairly questionable pick at the time making him the first official bust of this class.
7th pick, 6th round, 172nd overall: Jeremy Lane
Lane was drafted to be quality depth and that’s exactly what he has been. With Browner out Lane has started two games and has shown himself to be a physical corner in the classic Pete Carroll style. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a bright future in Seattle showing Pete Carroll’s knack for finding quality defensive backs in the later rounds. Alternatively, I wouldn’t be surprised if he fades into obscurity, because it can really go either way with depth players like Lane.
8th pick, 6th round, 181st overall: Winston Guy
Guy has appeared in only 2 games and has settled in as the 5th safety on this team. Seeing as NFL teams don’t necessarily carry 5 safeties Guy will have to show something during training camp to stick on the team next year. Hard to call him a bust, we just don’t know what he can do. At this point in the draft it’s hard to expect a lot and to be fair to Guy he has managed to stay on the team which isn’t nothing.
9th pick, 7th round, 225th overall: J.R Sweezy
This former college d-lineman started two games for the Seahawks this year which was a fairly remarkable story in and of itself. Sweezy flashes impressive physical tools but looked shaky at times during game action. That being said, you don’t expect a lineman drafted in the 7th round to be an effective starter as a rookie, especially if he is new to the position. Sweezy is an intriguing developmental project and has a chance to stick around if he continues to improve. Hard to ask for more from a 7th round pick
10th pick, 7th round, 232nd overall: Greg Scruggs
The Mr. Irrelevant of Seattle’s draft class has been a useful component of Seattle’s defensive line rotation. Scruggs has shown some ability to bring pressure up the middle on passing downs with 2 sacks, 6 quarterback hits and a deflected pass in fairly limited duty. Scruggs is no star but getting any contribution from the 232nd player picked in the draft has to be considered a bonus.
It is apparent that a major factor in Seattle’s rise to prominence in 2012 has been the contribution of its outstanding rookies. The Seahawk’s 2012 draft has the potential to go down as franchise changing or even historic if these players can keep improving and reach their full potential. A lot can happen and it remains very early to judge this draft class but it seems the Seahawks have added a great deal of high quality young talent in 2012 which not only accounts for their surprising level of success this year but could also be the catalyst for a string of winning seasons in Seattle.
The Seahawks did it again. The made sure that they at least have a solid chance at making the playoffs. All they have to do is win one of their remaining two games against San Francisco and St. Louis. And if Seattle is able to beat Saint Harbaugh and Arizona beats San Francisco in the final week with Seattle winning out , the Seahawks are the NFC West division champs. Basically the situation is in flux and very fluid at this point. Chance of playoff berth is high, with a smaller chance of division championship. Either way, Seattle would be playing in the first week. It’s just whether it’s home or away.
I know everybody not in Seattle has their panties in a twist over “douche” “idiot” Pete Carroll “running up the score” on poor little Buffalo, but I’m going to be covering that in another piece. For now, I’ll just say there were two other games, both shut-outs, on the same day that higher spreads in the score. Food for thought.
Onto some more meaningful thoughts. First, why the hell does Pete Carroll keep starting Leroy Hill over Malcolm Smith? Maybe there is a reason. I don’t know what it is, but I’d really like to hear it. With Hill on the field, I feel like the opportunity for the opponent to open up a big play is greatly increased (ex. CJ Spiller’s touchdown run). Smith is a better tackler, a headier player, and is able to back up his team mates. Hill often times looks lost and has an uncanny ability to get run over.
Russell Wilson continues to grow and lead the team. It is clear that Pete Carroll made the correct choice for quarterback. I wish he’d have opened the playbook up sooner, but nothing can be changed now. I just hope Seattle’s success continues into next season. The NFC West is getting much stronger and Arizona could resurge without much changing.
Marshawn Lynch is a stud. I wish Wilson had shared some of his rushing touchdowns with Lynch because it would have helped me in the fantasy playoffs. Now I have to hope that Shonn Green somehow scores 20 points tonight against the Titans. With Lynch able to get rest and Robert Turbin able to step in for the second half of the last two games, it means Lynch will be rested for the 49ers and hopefully the playoffs.
Steven Hauschka really stresses me out. I’ve thought the trajectory of his extra point kicks is really low for a long time and now he’s had two of them blocked in the last 23 attempts. I’m not sold on Hauschka as Seattle’s long term kicker. He doesn’t have great range and no real credibility in crunch time. If somebody becomes available in the off season I hope Pete Carroll takes a look.
The defense seemed very lackadaisical for the first half. Seattle built a quick lead but the defense had a difficult time stopping CJ Spiller and Stevie Johnson was able to make some nice catches (one of which there was nothing that could be done about). The second half was much better and made the overall game statistics for the defense look good. I just wish they’d play a whole four quarters that way. It will be needed against San Francisco. I’m worried about Colin Kaepernick’s running ability and Seattle needs to be able to shut that down early. If Seattle can stop Kaepernick and Frank Gore on the ground, San Francisco will become very one-dimensional and I think our secondary would eat Kaepernick’s arm alive.
Which brings me to Seattle’s pass-rush, or lack thereof. The defensive line was finally able to wear down Buffalo’s offensive line but there was no real pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick until later in the game. Seattle needs to pressure the quarterback early and often. Then they’ll hopefully get more plays like Bruce Irvin’s hilarious recovery and run. He might have the best happy-face in the NFL.
My final thought is something I encountered on Twitter during the game. Seahawks fans are very proud and defensive of their team. I know I am; especially to outsiders. However, I don’t think Seattle is perfect and there is still a lot of legitimate criticism and areas for improvement to be focused on. I’ve outlined some of them above. It isn’t because I’m “not a true fan” or will never be happy. It’s because I have high expectations and I believe that Seattle can live up to them. If I was completely satisfied and had no qualms whatsoever, that would mean that I’d expect another 7-9 or 8-8 season and be happy with just missing the playoffs. Instead, I see a lot of potential in Seattle to be 50% better than they are now. They could be a team that San Francisco fears playing instead of the other way around. Seattle can certainly beat San Francisco, but I in no way feel confident about the game. I’d rather be on the other side of that equation – feeling confident, but not certain. I’d rather have the 60% in a 60-40 split.
I have no problem giving a compliment or celebrating when something is done well. But I don’t believe in focusing on the good at the expense of the improvable. If something is already done well – Seattle’s running game for instance – then I don’t think I need to talk about it as much. Just keep doing what they’re doing. I am strong believer in hanging a lantern on your problems and then working like hell to fix them. It’s not traitorous. It’s simply improving the foundation upon which the franchise is built.
Those are all my immediate gut-related thoughts for this week. Until next week, I’ll be breathing deep and removing throwable objects from my living room in preparation for this Sunday’s game.
When the Seahawks drafted Bruce Irvin 15th overall in the 2012 draft I was confused. I’m not ashamed to admit that; I think a lot of you out there were confused as well. Reactions poured in and consensus was difficult to find. The pick was controversial, and considered a reach by many. Alternatively some were describing Irvin as the best pure pass rusher in the draft and John Clayton tweeted that, “At least 24 teams had Bruce Irvin in top 15.” People were wondering what to expect, but strangely Bruce Irvin has managed to fulfill the expectations of both those who loved and hated the pick.
People who hated the pick figured that Irvin was a situational pass rusher with big holes in his game. As it turns out, so far, that description fits Irvin perfectly. Irvin played only 20 out of 55 defensive snaps for the Seahawks against Carolina. He rarely plays any time when the opposition is likely to run and when he does he has been invisible. According to profootball reference he has only recorded 4 tackles and 1 assist. When watching the game Irvin’s lack of size (6-3 245) shows from time to time. He gets out-muscled by OT’s that can outweigh him by up to 100 pounds. Irvin can be pushed wide of the play due to his tendency to try and speed rush opposing tackles. He definitely does not look the part of a complete player. In that sense people who laughed at the Irvin pick can feel vindicated.
However, people who liked the Irvin pick and Seahawks fans everywhere are pretty excited about Irvin at this moment for one reason and one reason alone. The man can get to the quarterback. When I said earlier that Irvin had 4 tackles and 1 assist it was probably worth mentioning that meager tackle total has come in the form of 4.5 sacks. Through 5 games Irvin has exclusively tackled quarterbacks. That’s absurd. Irvin’s exceptional athleticism was well documented when he was drafted. His 4.5 40 yard dash time was the envy of many RB’s and WR’s. Seahawks blogger Davis Hsu pointed out that, “Bruce Irvin 2012 3cone of 6.7 was the fastest for DL & LB, would have been the 3rd fastest WR, 2nd fastest RB, 3rd fastest S, 5th fastest CB” and I wish I had seen it at the time because the more I read it the more impressed I am. That being said, we didn’t know if Irvin had the pass rushing repertoire to turn that crazy athleticism into legitimate production. So far he’s proven his doubters wrong on that point.
So is Bruce Irvin a one-dimension player? At this point yes. Is his effectiveness limited to a few situations? Also yes. But has he been an effective player for the Seahawks this year? Absolutely yes. In an NFL that is becoming more and more dominated by the passing game there is nothing wrong with being situational pass rusher. In fact, it is important enough that using a first round pick on such a player is looking wiser by the day. I don’t think the Seahawks front office would take the Irvin pick back if they could and I doubt many fans would either. It’s early in the season, and even earlier in his career, but even if Irvin never transcends his current role he has the chance to be an exciting player, potentially even a star, for a long time. I was scared that Irvin was going to be an Aaron Maybin type when he was drafted, and it is possible he will regress to the level of the famous draft bust, but I think it’s more likely he is en route to becoming the player Maybin should have been. When asked to describe his game Bruce Irvin once said, “I love eating quarterbacks.” Here’s to hoping the man never goes on a diet.
There is a large number of interesting stats and anecdotes published around the web each week. I do my best to relay the very best info, but a large number of very useful and interesting information gets left out because of the sheer volume of it out there.
Well, I think I’ve found a way to fix some of that. Each week I’m going to be publishing a “notebook,” a bunch of quick takes on some of the stuff I’ve come across during the week. I hope you like it.
1) According to Pro Football Focus, Seahawks rookie Bruce Irvin is the 8th most efficient pass rusher in the league, getting pressure on the QB on 13.3% of the time he rushes the passer. Chris Clemons is 10th at 12.6%. The Seahawks are one of only 2 teams with 2 players in the top 10 (the other is Denver). The are also the only 2 members of the NFL West in the top 15.
PFF also has Irvin 11th overall for 4-3 DEs in terms of total impact on games, despite playing about half the # of snaps of almost everyone on the list above him.
2) For Seahawks beat writer for the TNT, and current ESPN Blogger, Mike Sando says that Marshawn Lynch is currently in 9th place in the race for NFL MVP. He also notes that in the Seahawks last 14 games Lynch has 1449 yards, 155 more than anyone else over than span.
Speaking of Lynch, he lead the league in rushing after 4 weeks, but after an “off day” in which he “only” rushed for 85 yards against the Panthers, he’s dropped to 3rd in the league; 43 yards behind current leader Jamaal Charles of Kansas City.
And while we’re on the subject of Lynch here’s one more. Lunch has 229 yards after contact, which is the best in the league. Lynch also only has 113 carriers, which means that he averages 2 yards after contact every time he touches the football.
3) Despite the fact that the Seahawks are in last place in their division, and have losses to both the Rams and the Cardinals, the computers over at Football Outsiders have the Seahawks with the 2nd best probability of making the playoff in the division, at 55%. The 49ers are at 87%
These probabilities are based on stats and the remaining strength of schedule. There isn’t a human element to it at all. I just found it interesting.
I thought I’d wait a few days before writing about week 2 to soak up all the stories and reactions. One thing that stood out for me was the sense of relief after this weeks Seahawks victory was in hand. It was one of those moments when you sensed the collective breath of thousands of fans release almost simultaneously. It was a relief more than exhilaration for many folks because it could have been so much worse. Think of the Seahawks sitting at 0-2 after having lost two games to non-playoff teams. Think about how a Russell Wilson – Matt Flynn “QB controversy” would have been in full bloom, or how Carroll might be on the “hot seat” if things keep going this way. That prospect loomed large Saturday afternoon in the first half. The Hawks just couldn’t get anything going offensively and couldn’t stop the Cowboys on 3rd down. You could tell they were almost there, but something wasn’t quit clicking.
Thank the football gods for half time! The coaching staff made some adjustments during the break that seemed to take care of the ills of the first half. It always amazes me that with the limited time in the locker room they are able to get some meaningful work done to counter things that the opposing team was doing in the first half. Whatever the staff told the team, it worked. This game became a tale of two halves.
The Hawks defense shut down the run, allowing only 8 rushing yards in the 2nd half, harassed Romo in the pocket with an improved pass rush that included one sack, and quit giving up those 3rd and longs they were not stopping in the first half. They gave up only one long drive as opposed to three last week. The pass rush was improved as well, with Bruce Irvin finally sharing credit for a sack and Brandon Browner getting 4 tackles and a pick.
Special teams was again a key contributor and looks like it can be counted on for 3 to 7 points per game. Jon Ryan’s dual 60+ yard punts and 53 yard average kept the Cowboys on a long field all day. One other big difference from last week was only 5 penalties for 35 yards, room for improvement but I’ll take it after last week. The defense and special teams are definitely finding their swagger.
Russell Wilson, with the help of a much-improved pass blocking effort, put together a careful but aggressive passing attack peppered with some strategic running from the pocket that had the Cowboys defense second guessing their assignments. The receiver corps had fewer drops while Golden Tate even delivered a crushing block on a Wilson scramble that will make the NFL 2012 Highlights film. And then there was Marshawn Lynch. His punishment of the Cowboys defense was so complete that by early in the 4th quarter the hang-dog look on the Cowboys faces told the whole story. They wanted it to end. The team that just beat the World Champs at home a little more than a week earlier wanted OUT of Seattle.
So, what does this game mean? Do we look for another dominating performance, or a let down after a big win, or maybe just be satisfied with steady progress from a young team win or lose? Pete Carroll talked about all his players now being of one mind, and how they are developing and perfecting their identity as a team. The Seahawks are a rough, tough, punishing football team capable of dominating other teams. To have that going this early in the season is a sign of things to come. This team can play with anybody.
Now a word of caution. Take another DEEP breath Seattle, and hold it for Monday Night Football next week. We’ve seen this before only to have the team come back the following week flat as an American Idol reject. Do I think the Seahawks can beat Green Bay? Absolutely! But it will take continued great play from special teams, an even more stingy defense, and the offense will have to get things going earlier in the game to keep things even in the first half. Everyone’s excited about this year’s team and there is a lot to be hopeful about, but I’ll believe it when we see this kind of performance week after week with no let-downs, even in losses. I don’t see this team losing in a blow out no matter who they play. The schedule doesn’t get any easier, so it shouldn’t take long to see if the team’s development can keep pace with the increasing level of the competition.
Week 3 of the preseason brings us to Arrowhead Stadium, and the talented Kansas City Chiefs. Here are 5 things to keep in eye out for as we near the Regular Season….
1) It’s Russel Wilson’s Job to Lose
- With the announcement that Russell Wilson is set to start this ever important 3rd preseason game, Seahawk fans found themselves both perplexed, and baffled. When the Seahawks signed Matt Flynn in the offseason, it was thought that he was brought in to be the heir apparent. This all changed when the ‘Hawks drafted Russell Wilson in the 3rd round of the draft. Since Day 1, Coach Carroll has maintained that this was an open competition, and Wilson would have his chance to start. Well, with 2 solid performances thus far, it’s finally his job to lose. With another stellar performance, this time against a very good 1st team defense, then it’s almost certain that Russell Wilson ends up as the Week 1 starter. If the Chiefs defense can rattle Wilson, and his rising star falls back to earth, then we can expect to see Flynn annoited the starter, and Wilson will develop as the backup. For as long as I can remember there hasn’t been a preseason game that carried such weight, and importance as this. When the game is over, Seahawk fans will finally have an indication of who their starting quarterback for 2012 will be.
2) Eric Berry and Earl Thomas. The Dynamic Duo.
- When the Kansas City Chiefs were on the clock in the 2010 NFL Draft with the 5th overall pick, Eric Berry was the consensus selection by most draft pundits. However, some evaluators had another safety, Earl Thomas out of Texas, as the better prospect. When the Chiefs did select Berry, it was a no-brainer for the Seahawks at 14 to select Earl Thomas. Both picks have worked out well for their respective teams. Both have made the Pro-Bowl, Berry as a rookie (though it could be argued that Thomas warranted a nod his rookie season as well), and Thomas last year while Berry sat out the season with a knee injury. It will be fun to see both #29′s out there flying around on the same field, fueling the argument of which was the better pick. So far, I think everybody’s a winner here. 2 of the best safeties to come out of college in years, both in the same draft mind you, wearing the same number, playing the same ferocious style of ball-hawking, game-changing effort we’ve grown to love. Exciting stuff 12th Man, should be fun to watch.
3) Sid Rice is Back!
- Since his arrival, Seahawks fans have been excited to see Sidney Rice healthy, and have a season like the one he had in 2009 with Brett Favre. His 1st season in Seattle he started out injured, returned and showed flashes of his true self, then fell victim to the ever-growing ailment that are concussions, ending his season. While he was sidelined, Sid, and the Seahawks medical staff, thought it would be a good time to clean up another lingering injury, his shoulders. Both of them. Now we’re at Game 3 of the preseason, and Mr. Rice is cleared to go. It’s going to be interesting to see how much game action he gets, as well as the type of routes the coaching staff will send him on. I doubt we’ll see him cross the field on an in-route, or enter Eric Berry territory on a skinny post. Let’s just give him a couple hitches, maybe a streak route, or 2, and call it a day. There’s no reason to do anything with our #1 Wide Receiver than knock a bit of the rust off, and stretch out those game legs. Welcome Back Sid. We missed ya.
4) ‘It all starts up front…’ : Part 2
- This will be a great litmus test as to where the ‘Hawks truly are with both their Offensive, and Defensive lines. The O-line looked pretty solid last week as the Seahawks amassed over 200 yards rushing, while the pass blocking was good at times. However, the penalties for holding and for roughness piled up ceaslessly. Coach Tom Cable has done an outstanding job gelling this unit together. If one guy goes down, another steps in without missing a beat. They’ve even adopted a bit of the nastiness he looks for in his hog-mollies. But let’s keep it between the whistles, and play smart. Penalties killed at least one touchdown drive, and had the offense in 3rd and long a couple other times. In this final dress rehearsal before the season begins, let’s hope the offensive line rotation we’ll see thoughout the season takes that final step, and we see smart, sturdy, violent play from the big boys up front.
5) Preseason or Not, Where’s the Pass Rush?
- I’ll start by conceding that yes, it is the preseason. Teams don’t generally like to doing anything exotic, or indicitive of their plans for the regular season when it comes to blitzes, and pressures. I get that. But what concerns me is the Seahawks overall inability to get even close to pressure on opposing teams starting QB’s. Last week against Peyton Manning was borderline frustrating. Snap after snap ‘The Sheriff’ was given what seemed like hours to throw the ball. If it wasn’t for some key drops, it could of really looked pretty ugly. We know the ‘Hawks have the talent and depth up front to really put a hurtin’ on opposing QB’s, and their passing attack, but let’s not bask in the vanilla stew that is the preseason pass rush. It’s time to ramp up the design, and unleash the likes of Bruce Irvin, Chris Clemons, and the rest of our talented front seven. Give Matt Cassell a lesson in the collapsing pocket, and enter Week 1 with the swagger that comes with breaking an opposing QBs spirit on a well designed blitz.