Nov 6, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders outside linebacker Bruce Irvin (51) reacts towards the crowd before a play against the Denver Broncos in the first quarter at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
A detailed review of Oakland Raiders linebacker Bruce Irvin in 2016. From his stats to his game-wrecking pass rushes and forces fumbles, week in and week out.
When the Seahawks opted not pick up the fifth-year option on Bruce Irvin’s rookie contract, he was poised to enter free-agency. On March 10, 2016, Irvin signed with the Oakland Raiders on a four-year deal worth $37 million.
After spending the first four seasons of his career in Seattle, Irvin was looking to make a bigger name for himself elsewhere. Being a cog in a stacked defense for the Seahawks was something Irvin was not always ecstatic about, because his pass-rushing abilities were not on full display, nor was his jaw-dropping athleticism.
Irvin immediately made a name himself with Raider Nation, self-proclaiming himself as “Baby Reggie” due to his proactive recruiting of other potential free agents. Irvin, only officially on the team for a matter of days, got on the phone with Donald Penn to try to get him to re-sign with the Raiders. He also was in contact with Eric Weddle, attempting to convince him and his beard to take a trip up north from San Diego.
On the field, Irvin solidified himself as a fan favorite. He recorded a career high 57 tackles, a career high 6 forced fumbles, and he also picked up 7 sacks. Irvin was the perfect bookend to Khalil Mack, as the two pass-rushers combined for 18 out of the teams 26 sacks — 69 percent.
Let’s take a closer look at Irvin’s week by week performance.
Sep 11, 2016; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) is hit by Oakland Raiders linebacker Bruce Irvin (51) while Saints offensive guard Andrus Peat (75) tries to block in the second half at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Raiders won, 35-34. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
In the first week of the season, on the road in New Orleans, there was not much defense being played by the Raiders. Bruce Irvin, however, kicked the door open, and officially introduced himself to Raider Nation on the first drive.
On a 3rd and long, Irvin pushed the pocket and got a strip-sack, which gave the Raiders offense great field position. Not a bad way to start his career in Silver and Black.
For the game, Irvin had 2 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF, and a game high 3 QB hits.
The following week, Oakland’s defense had another horrendous game, allowing over 500 yards of total offense.
Despite the defense’s ineptitude, Irvin still tallied 4 tackles, and 1 tackle for a loss.
Irvin had another solid performance in Week 3 against the Titans. He picked up 4 tackles to go along with another forced fumble, which once again flipped the field for the Raiders, and put the offense in great position to put points on the board.
Against the Ravens the following week, Irvin had another above-average performance. For the game, even though Irvin only had 2 tackles, one of those was another strip-sack.
Irvin once again put the Raiders offense in great position with a turnover. Are you sensing a theme here?
Bruce also added a tackle for a loss, and another 3 QB hits.
The Raiders faced a division foe in Week 5 — the San Diego Chargers — and it was another game in which the defense as a whole struggled mightily.
Irvin had a quite game, with only 1 lone tackle, and also added just 1 QB hit.
In back to back weeks, the Raiders faced another division opponent, and had their worst performance of the year to this point.
The defense was gashed on a number of occasions in this game, and there was very little positives to take away from this game. Irvin had 4 total tackles.
In Week 7, Oakland began a stretch in which they would be playing on the east coast for the next few weeks. After several poor performances by the defense, they were able to bounce back against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Irvin had 1 tackle, but one again, he forced a fumble on his lone tackle. Irvin also tied Khalil Mack for a game-high 2 QB hits.
The following week, Irvin and the Raiders were still in Florida, but this time they were playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Irvin had another solid game — 4 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, and 1 QB hit in Oakland’s thrilling overtime win.
The Raiders returned home to play the Denver Broncos on Sunday night football, and had their most complete performance all season.
Although Irvin only had 1 tackle and 1 QB hit, this game showed what Mack and Irvin were capable of as a duo. Irvin showed his bookend abilities as a disruptor throughout the game, and Mack benefited greatly on the opposite end.
Dec 18, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders linebacker Bruce Irvin (51) reacts during a NFL football game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 19-16. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Ah, the Mexico City game.
Irvin by far, had his best game as a Raider up to that point against the Houston Texans.
Irvin stuffed the stat sheet by leading the team with 10 total tackles, 1 sack, 1 QB hit, and 2.5 tackles for a loss.
After having one of his better games, it was a complete momentum builder for Irvin for the remainder of the season.
Against the Carolina Panthers, Irvin again had a full repertoire of stats, which included 4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for a loss, 1 pass defensed, and also 3 QB hits.
Irvin again had another stellar game against the Buffalo Bills. It was his third straight game with a sack, but he also added 4 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, and 1 QB hit. Irvin’s complete array of athleticism was on full display.
The following week, Irvin and the Raiders as a whole once again struggled against a familiar opponent in the Kansas City Chiefs.
There was not much consistency on either side of the ball. Irvin accumulated 3 solo tackles for the game.
Bruce followed up his subpar game against the Chiefs by wreaking havoc on Phillip Rivers and the Chargers offensive line. For the game, Irvin led the team with 6 tackles, and also added a season high 2 sacks, 2 tackles for a loss, 1 forced fumble, and 3 QB hits.
For the season, Khalil Mack was known as the closer, but Irvin embraced that role for this game. It was Irvin’s best game from a pass rushing standpoint, and it was good enough to award him AFC defensive player of the week.
After Irvin’s game-wrecking performance, he followed it up another so-so game by his standards. But even though he only had 1 tackle, he was constantly in Andrew Luck’s face with pressure after pressure.
Irvin had a game high 3 QB hits.
After seeing the Raiders defense improve over the season, they laid another egg in Week 17 against the Broncos. But then Derek Carr went down, and the team as a whole looked discombobulated and not at all prepared to compete.
Irvin had 5 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 2 tackles for a loss, and 2 QB hits.