Pass rushers pride themselves on sacks. It’s their main goal every time they line up with their hand in the dirt. It has also become the statistic upon which they are continuously judged, which only adds to the desire to accumulate them.
For Bruce Irvin, his goal has long been to reach double digit sacks. Ken Norton has coached Irvin his entire career, going back to when Norton was linebackers coach in Seattle. So he know full well how badly Irvin wants it.
“Bruce has been trying to get there for a long time,” Norton said with a laugh. “Thing is, his rookie year he might’ve had 8.5. He’s really been trying to get to that point.”
Irvin is convinced he will reach his goal this season.
“I definitely want to get that,” Irvin said this week of reaching ten sacks this season. “I’m gonna get it. I’m gonna get it.”
With his two sacks last week against the Chargers, Irvin sits at 7.0 for the season. Which means he must pick up three sacks in the final two games.
For the Raiders, however, sacks are only a fraction of what they ask from Irvin as an outside linebacker. Irvin’s duties are arguably the most widely ranging of any player on the team.
“He does so much,” Norton Continued. “A sack is... you know everybody likes sacks, but Bruce, he’s our spy, he’s our cover guy, he’s the guy on the other side of Khalil [Mack], he’s the guy who reroutes the receivers well, he’s one of our fastest, best athletes, he’s a guy who shows up early and studies late, he’s one of the team leaders. And you see the way he comes.
“He might not have a lot of sacks, but he has a lot of quarterback hits. Reminds me of a guy I played with, Charles Haley [back] in the day. He didn’t get a lot of sacks, but he always disrupted the quarterback, got him off the spot, and was a guy that everyone knew where he was.”
Currently Irvin has 20 QB hits this season which puts him 14th in the league. That number is just three less than Mack has and Mack is tied for third most in the league.
The Charles Haley comparison is quite a compliment. Haley was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015. He was a 5-time Pro Bowler, 2-time All Pro. Though I don’t know what Norton is talking about saying Haley didn’t get a lot of sacks. Haley had over 100 career sacks and had double digit sacks six times in his career.
As for Irvin’s chances of picking up 3.0 sacks in the final two games, it’s certainly possible. Indianapolis and Denver have each given up 40 sacks this season which is tied for third most in the league.