The Oakland Raiders have suffered from dreadful season records for the better part of the past decade. And while they showed improvement in the 2015 season by earning a 7-9 record as opposed to the 3-13 of 2014, they still have a long way to go if they plan on returning to a competitive level within the AFC West.
However, the Raiders have already made a few decent offseason moves, especially signing former Seattle Seahawks’ linebacker Bruce Irvin to a four-year $12.5 million contract, which are steps in the right direction to revitalizing their active roster.
When with the Seahawks, Irvin was susceptible to statistics like 22 sacks, 96 tackles, and 47 assisted tackles in four seasons. And yet upon his departure from Seattle, Irvin openly expressed his desire to be a pass rusher within the NFL, as opposed to a linebacker.
“I honestly felt like if I stayed in that Seattle system, I don’t think I ever would be the player that I think I can be in this league, and that’s being a pass rusher. I just want to be utilized more and get put in positions more to make plays,” said Irvin. “I haven’t even scratched what I know I can do. Like I said, Seattle kind of limited me in that defense — and I did the best that I could do — but I haven’t scratched my surface. I’m far from it. I still have a lot more great years, and a lot more things that I have to prove.”
But perhaps the most exciting aspect of Irvin on defense is that he’ll be able to offset outside linebacker Khalil Mack, who was one of the Raiders’ deadliest weapons in 2015. In one season alone, Mack racked up 15 sacks, 57 tackles, and 20 assisted tackles. He was also voted the AFC West Defensive Player of the Week in week 14, and he made his first Pro Bowl appearance of his career.
“You add Bruce Irvin and his pass rush ability to Khalil Mack. I think this becomes one of the more dangerous, dynamic duos immediately by adding him,” said NFL Network analyst LaVar Arrington.
In fact, the Irvin-Mack duo has already been nicknamed the Slash Brothers, a spinoff of the Raiders’ NBA neighbors the Golden State Warriors, whose own notorious dynamic duo Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson call themselves the Splash Brothers. And if the Slash Brothers can fractionally compare to the athleticism and intensity of the basketball Splash Brothers, the Raiders defense should be top notch in 2016.