Rookie Meter: Irvin racking up sacks in limited snaps

Posted Oct. 09, 2012 @ 3:54 p.m.
Posted By Kevin Fishbain

Seahawks DE Bruce Irvin is making the most of his limited snaps and proving doubters wrong, as he tries to be this year’s Aldon Smith. 

Irvin notched two sacks, including a strip-sack of Panthers QB Cam Newton to help clinch a Seahawks victory in Week Five. He has 4½ sacks on the season, but only has five tackles. On Sunday, the situational pass rusher was on the field for 20 of the 55 defensive snaps.

Because Irvin is not considered, nor was he at draft time, to be a full-time defensive starter, many criticized Pete Carroll’s decision to draft Irvin with the 15th overall pick. But as long as Irvin is making impact plays, there won’t be many complaints about his playing time, and he is taking pride in the fact that he is outplaying some of the projections.

“I was a reach at 15 though!” Irvin tweeted after Sunday’s win. “Haaa loving proving y’all wrong it’s only the beginning!”

Last year, Smith, a first-rounder by the 49ers, played a similar role as a pass-rush specialist. He finished his rookie season with 14 sacks, the second-highest total in NFL history, and only played 49 percent of defensive snaps, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Smith jockeyed with Broncos OLB Von Miller for Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. Miller made plenty of big plays and was more valuable to Denver’s defense, as he played more often than Smith, but he had 2½ fewer sacks.

This season could be a similar situation if Irvin continues his sack rate. Patriots DE Chandler Jones is one of the early favorites and is on the field for a majority of New England’s snaps, but he isn’t getting to the QB as often as Irvin. Panthers LB Luke Kuechly is racking up tackles, tackles for loss and playing time, but Irvin could finish the season with more big plays.

Regardless of his spot on the Rookie Meter, Irvin is giving the Seahawks exactly what they wanted when they drafted him, and he should only improve with more experience going forward.

This week’s Rookie Meter shoutout goes to Rams P Johnny Hekker, who placed three of his seven punts inside the 20-yard line in a win over the Cardinals and averaged 56.9 yards a punt. His teammate, Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein is getting more press, but Hekker has had a solid start to his NFL career.

Now, onto the Week Five Rookie Meter: 

1. Redskins QB Robert Griffin III (first round, second overall)
Last week’s ranking: 1

Griffin completed 10-of-15 passes for 91 yards, zero touchdowns and zero interceptions for a passer rating of 82.9 in a loss to Atlanta. He left the game following a hit by Sean Weatherspoon that resulted in a concussion, and his status for Week Six is in question.

2. Colts QB Andrew Luck (1, 1)
Last week’s ranking: 2

Luck completed 31-of-55 passes for 362 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in the Colts’ win over Green Bay. He helped rally the Colts back and threw the game-winning score to Reggie Wayne.

3. Redskins RB Alfred Morris (6, 173)
Last week’s ranking: 3

Morris, who is fourth in the NFL in rushing, had 18 carries for 115 yards (6.4-yard average) and no touchdowns. He also had a 20-yard reception.

4. Browns RB Trent Richardson (1, 3)
Last week’s ranking: 5

Richardson carried the ball 17 times for 81 yards and a 15-yard touchdown in Cleveland’s loss to the Giants. He also had five catches for 47 yards on seven targets.

5. Patriots DE Chandler Jones (1, 21)
Last week’s ranking: 4

Jones had a tackle, pass defensed and two QB hits in the Patriots’ win over the Broncos. He leads New England with six QB hits.

6. Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill (1, 8)
Last week’s ranking: 7

In Miami’s win over the Bengals, Tannehill was 17-of-26 passing for 223 yards. His passer rating of 92.3 was his highest as a pro. The Dolphins are 2-0 when Tannehill does not throw a pick. 

7. Panthers LB Luke Kuechly (1, 9)
Last week’s ranking: 10

Kuechly had 11 tackles, a tackle for loss and an interception in the Panthers’ loss to the Seahawks. He is tied for the rookie lead with six tackles for loss and he leads rookies with 37 tackles.

8. Seahawks DE Bruce Irvin (1, 15)
Last week’s ranking: NR

Irvin had two sacks and a forced fumble on a strip-sack to give the Seahawks a win over Carolina. His 4½ sacks is tops among rookies.

9. Buccaneers RB Doug Martin (1, 31)
Last week’s ranking: 6

Martin and the Bucs were on bye in Week Five. They face the Chiefs on Sunday.

10. Titans WR Kendall Wright (1, 20)
Last week’s ranking: NR

In Week Five, Wright had nine catches for 66 yards on 11 targets. Wright is the rookie leader in receptions (27), receiving yards (214), first downs (14) and is tied for the lead with two touchdowns.

On the cusp (listed alphabetically)

Buccaneers SS Mark Barron (1, 7)
Patriots RB Brandon Bolden (undrafted)
Bills CB Stephon Gilmore (1, 10)
Bears WR Alshon Jeffery (2, 45)
Rams CB Janoris Jenkins (2, 39)
Vikings OLT Matt Kalil (1, 4)
Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner (2, 47)
Browns QB Brandon Weeden (1, 22)
Seahawks QB Russell Wilson (3, 75)
Rams PK Greg Zuerlein (6, 171)

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