Since signing with the Raiders in 2016, Bruce Irvin has become the Robin to Khalil Mack’s Batman. But if you ask defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, Robin might be too underwhelming a comparison. After recording 15 sacks in the past two years, Guenther believes Irvin is capable of a double-digit sack season.
“I knew he was a really gifted rusher,” Guenther told ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez. “Just coming here, I thought his best assets for us was to go forward rather than go backwards. He’s done a good job with what we’re asking him to do in the base fronts.”
”Obviously, we know what he can do as a pass-rusher. Hopefully, we can get him over a double-digit [sack] mark this year. That’s the goal for him.”
In his first season with the Raiders, Irvin quickly showed he was worth his four-year, $37 million contract after he led the NFL in forced fumbles (6) and finished the season with seven sacks.
But 2017 was a different story, as Irvin didn’t seem to be the same player and wasn’t making nearly the same impact he had a year prior. That was, until John Pagano became the new defensive coordinator in week 12 and made it a point to move Irvin from his usual linebacker role to edge rusher.
Suddenly, Irvin returned to form and recorded 5.5 sacks in the final six games of the season, tying his season best total with 8. While Irvin is more than capable of playing outside linebacker, his production as a pass rushing defensive end showed Guenther and the rest of the NFL that he is best utilized as a pure pass rusher.
With the Raiders plans to permanently move him to defensive end, and new additions to the defensive line including Maurice Hurst and Arden Key, the sky is the limit for Irvin in 2018.