Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was a guest on KJR-AM this morning —you can find it here — with some interesting insights on a number of aspects of the defense.
Maybe most noteworthy were some of his comments on how the team will use Bruce Irvin this season.
Irvin was officially moved to strongside (SAM) linebacker last year from defensive end, but also still played some at the LEO rush end spot. He was primarily at LEO in the Super Bowl, and that led some to wonder if he will take on more of a rush end spot this year — the team lists him as a defensive end on its roster.
Quinn said Irvin’s role will be more of a mix of the two this season with him competing at the SAM linebacker spot (likely with Malcolm Smith) but also playing at LEO. Quinn, though, did hint that Irvin’s role as a rush end could be greater this season, in part because the team may need him to fill in for the loss of Chris Clemons.
“We certainly want to feature him more as a rusher and hopefully that will be the case this year,” Quinn said.
Asked to assess Irvin’s career to date, Quinn said:
“The first year he played and backed up at our LEO spot, so the the second year we moved him to linebacker,” said Quinn. “So where in our base defense, he doesn’t rush quite as much, but we still used him as a nickel defensive end. So he was one of the three or four ends we tried to feature – with (Michael Bennett), Chris Clemons, Cliff Avril. So as we go into this year, he’s another one of those guys that we talk about who has had a great offseason with much to prove. He’s come back in terrific shape, so we’d expect him to be a big part of our base package at (strongside) linebacker, and then in our nickel package at the right defensive end.”
Host Mitch Levy then asked Quinn if the move to linebacker was an admission that Irvin was a failure at the rush end spot.
Quinn, though, said that would be a “bit of an overanalysis” saying the move was made more to try to get him on the field where he could help as much as possible.
“The spot that we play him, he’s on the end of the line, so we thought that we’d get more reps from him playing at our SAM spot,” Quinn said. “Our SAM and our LEO are similar in that way, in terms of the size and the body type, so with Mike and Cliff, and Bruce and Clem, we felt like we couldn’t get all four guys playing at the same spot, so Bruce was certainly someone that could handle all the requirements for the SAM, so that’s really where the decision came from.”
This will be an interesting season for Irvin, though, with Smith having proven he can play at an every down level. It also shows again, though, the team’s enthusiasm for defensive versatility and willingness to use guys in a lot of different roles.
Quinn also said that DTs Jesse Williams and Jordan Hill are healthy and will be ready for the start of camp and reiterated that each is an interior player.
He also said Jeremy Lane will be the leader for the nickelback spot and noted that he’s had a good off-season.
And he said Bennett’s role will be roughly the same as last year in terms of where he lines up but could increase in terms of snaps. He said Bennett will again play some tackle in nickel situations but will primarily be at “our defensive end spot,” essentially taking over for the departed Red Bryant.