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Jon Gruden explains Bruce Irvin lack of playing time as him being a situational pass rusher who ‘doesn’t fit the role’ Raiders need

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NFL: Oakland Raiders at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Nine snaps. That’s all team captain and $8 million man Bruce Irvin played in Thursday night’s loss to the 49ers. On a team that can’t generate pressure, having their sack leader standing on the sideline doesn’t seem like an ideal plan. But that’s what the Raiders are going with, for better or for worse.

Friday after the 34-3 loss in which the Raiders were held without a sack and just two QB hits, Gruden was asked to explain Irvin’s drop in playing time.

“Last night we were not in our nickel defense very much,” said Gruden. “Remember we’re a 4-3 team now, we’re not a 3-4, so in the base defense, sometimes he doesn’t fit the role that we need done. No disrespect to Bruce, but he’s an edge rusher and we haven’t had a lead and we haven’t had the opposition behind in the chains a lot, so his role has been reduced. I know he’s frustrated. I’m frustrated and we’ll try to solve that as soon as possible. He’s a good player. He’s a good player.”

Irvin had been given just 24 snaps (31%) in the loss to the Colts last week despite the team holding a lead into the fourth quarter and it being a one-score game with just over three minutes left in the game. And the game in London against the Seahawks was the first time since week two that Irvin has played more than 60% of the snaps.

After that bad loss in London, Irvin was clearly frustrated and seemed to be trying to be flippant about it, saying “We may have lost, but I got a hot wife to go home to.”

He has seen 33 snaps in the two games since. And the Raiders haven’t had a sack with just three total QB hits. The worst pass rushing team in the league is actually getting worse. Seemingly by design.