It used to be comical to hear the media call Oakland Raiders edge rushers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin the Slash Brothers. That name obviously comes from Golden State Warriors guards Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, the Splash Brothers. The two were given the name because they are prolific at splashing three-pointers, shooting over 40 percent from beyond the arch for their respective careers.
But if only one of them shot well from beyond the arch, you couldn’t call them the Splash Brothers. Yet the media around the Raiders called Mack and Irvin the Slash Brothers while Mack was the only sack master.
As good as a football player as Irvin is, he’s at the end of his sixth year in the NFL and has only 36.5 career sacks. To put that in perspective, Mack has 40.5 sacks at the end of just his fourth year.
Add to that the fact that Irvin has yet to clear the 10-sack mark in an NFL season. The most he’s ever had in a season is 8.0 and he did that as a rookie. Irvin had seven last year and through the first 10 games this year, he had just 3.5, making one wonder what he did to be a Slash Brother. That is changing of late and it looks like he could get to 10 this year.
It would appear Irvin was being stopped under former defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. Since Pagano became the DC, Irvin, has more that doubled his sack total up to 7.5 on the season. In the last four games, he has sacked opposing quarterbacks five times. That’s in part because he’s getting more opportunities to rush the passer. According to Pro Football Focus, he dropped into coverage on 17.42 percent of his snaps compared to 6.73 under Pagano.
The more opportunities you get to do something, the better you become at it. And Irvin is no exception as his pass-rush productivity on a per snap basis has improved by 5.4 percent since Pagano has taken over. So being named a Slash Brother as well as his $9.5 million a year contract fits much better now.