The talk this offseason about the potential of the 2016 Raiders is at a fever pitch. After finishing last season at 7-9, they are the hot team picked to take the next step as a contender. One reason for those expectations is free agent additions such as Bruce Irvin.
Irvin comes over from the Seahawks, who were Super Bowl champions following the 2013 season and were contenders in each season since. That team was built around their ‘Legion of Boom' defense, which featured Irvin along with fellow Raiders linebacker Malcolm Smith who were led by Ken Norton Jr, now defensive coordinator.
Being part of a Super Bowl champion is the only way a player can truly understand what kind of team dynamic is needed to accomplish it. Irvin sees the same dynamic in Oakland as he did in his years with the Seahawks.
"Coming in, you wouldn't think we were a 7-9 team last year," said Irvin of this Raiders team. "Talent is cool, but when you have a group of guys that can work and want to get better, it's scary. Being in Seattle, I know the formula. I know what it is to be on a number one defense. I know the grind of a 16-game season. I know when you get in the playoffs, it's way harder. So, I'll tell you this, when you get a bunch of guys believing in one thing, putting each other before they put themselves, it's scary. You can see it in Seattle. The past three, four years, a bunch of guys playing for each other, a bunch of ‘us,' not a bunch of ‘me' guys."
Irvin joined a team in Seattle with leadership in place. He comes to Oakland as a veteran leader on a team with a lot of young talent. He gets his bravado from his defensive coordinator who appreciates those qualities in his players.
"They didn't bring me here to be a follower. I'm a very outspoken guy. You guys will learn that about me. I'm coming to be a leader. I'm not stepping on any toes, but if I have something to say, I am going to say it."
The outspoken Irvin also complements the more reserved personality of Khalil Mack as each will line up opposite each other at the rush outside linebacker spots.
With Oakland looking to win the West and push for a playoff spot, going with the blueprint of a team like the Seahawks is a good way to do it. Such success can arrive quickly and leave just as quick. In that regard, Irvin may have jumped from one window to the next.
"We're on the way up," Irvin added.
"We know what we have to do."