Bruce Irvin, seen here in 2017, is thriving after a move to the defensive line. (Mira Laing/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Bruce Irvin, seen here in 2017, is thriving after a move to the defensive line. (Mira Laing/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Bruce Irvin’s regression limiting Khalil Mack, Raiders’ pass defense

A year removed from being dubbed the “Slash Bros,” Oakland Raiders pass rushers Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin have yet to live up to that nomenclature 10 games into the 2017 season. And, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year isn’t the one at fault for the unit falling short of expectations.

According to Pro Football Focus’ data, Irvin is coming off a zero-pressure performance in Mexico City. That makes him on pace for just 28 total pressures this season — which would be just eight above his career-low and 27 fewer than his mark last season. As expected, his lackluster production off the edge has dropped his pass-rush grade from 80.0 in 2016 to 49.3, good for 92nd among the NFL’s 106 edge defenders with 170-plus defensive snaps in 2017.

While Oakland has asked Irvin to drop back into coverage on 30 percent of his pass-defense snaps this season (a 10-percent increase from a year ago), the former first-rounder has still underwhelmed on the pass-rush snaps he’s been allowed.

Among the 51 edge defenders with 200-plus pass-rush snaps this season, Irvin ranks 48th in pass-rush productivity (6.4), a PFF-born rating that measures pressure created on a per-snap basis with weighting towards sacks. By comparison, he earned a 10.1 pass-rush productivity rating with Oakland last season and has never finished a season below 8.0 in his NFL career.

Irvin’s inefficient pass-rushing performance hasn’t done any favors for the team’s injury-plagued secondary, but no Raiders player has suffered more from his regression than Mack.

Mack earned DPOY honors last season largely due to his pass-rushing prominence opposite of Irvin, as he led all edge defenders in pass-rush productivity (15.0) and total pressures (96). However, without much of a presence along the opposite edge, opposing offenses have directed more attention to Mack’s side at little-to-no cost.

Despite owning the league’s 11th-ranked pass-rush grade (86.9), Mack has recorded just 45 total pressures in 2017, meaning he’s on pace to have 24 fewer pressures than last season. Additionally, his pass-rush productivity rating has dropped from 15.0 to 11.8.

Oakland’s backup edge defenders Shilique Calhoun and James Cowser have done very little to account for Irvin’s miscues with just five pressures between the two of them.

Pairing the lack of production off the edge with Oakland’s inconsistent interior defensive line, the Raiders rank tied for last in the league with just 14 sacks.

Irvin’s future in Oakland could be in jeopardy if he doesn’t turn the corner before the season’s end.

Signed in 2016, Irvin’s four-year, $37-million contract includes a potential out following this season. Oakland could save the remaining $19.5 million on his contract if they choose to release him prior to the start of the 2018 season.

Whether Irvin’s 15th-ranked run defense grade (84.5) is enough to keep him in the picture next year is yet to be determined. But, the Raiders’ Slash Bros are in desperate need of a resurgence — if not a makeover.

bruce irvinJack Del RioKhalil MackNFLOakland Raiders

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted changes to The City's streets including Slow Streets closures to increase open space access and the Shared Spaces program, which allows businesses to use public right-of-ways for dining, retail and services. (Examiner illustration)
COVID is reshaping the streets of San Francisco

Walk down Page Street, which is closed to thru-traffic, and you might… Continue reading

At a rally in February, Monthanus Ratanapakdee, left, and Eric Lawson remember Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man who died after he was pushed to the pavement in San Francisco. (Ekevara Kitpowsong/Examiner file photo)
The criminal justice system can’t fix what’s wrong in our community

My 87-year-old mother walks gingerly, slowly, deliberately, one step in front of… Continue reading

Superintendent Vincent Matthews said some students and families who want to return will not be able to do so at this time. “We truly wish we could reopen schools for everyone,” he said. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFUSD sets April reopening date after reaching tentative agreement with teachers union

San Francisco Unified School District has set April 12 as its reopening… Continue reading

José Victor Luna and Maria Anabella Ochoa, who cite health reasons for continuing distance learning, say they have been enjoying walking in Golden Gate Park with their daughters Jazmin, a first grader, and Jessica, a third grader. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Some SFUSD families prefer distance learning

Health issues, classroom uncertainties among reasons for staying home

Most Read