There Bruce Irvin was, anointed the Alpha of the Raiders defense, out of breath — purely gassed. Then, he nonchalantly rushing the passer with as miniscule an effort as the amount of oxygen left in his lungs. During the all-important waning moments of fourth quarter last Sunday against the Broncos, he faltered.
With Oakland clinging to a 19-17 lead and needing a stop the most, their most brash pass rusher, exhausted and with little juice left in his legs, slapped rookie Arden Key in the arm to get down and get after Case Keenum. That slap, looked of exasperation, like a big brother getting his little bro do something he does not want to do.
“It’s got to be more about desire and will, man,” defensive end Bruce Irvin, said. “Guys have got to dig deep, you know? Just try to fight, whether we’re tired, or dealing with an injury. We’ve got to dig deep and finish the game.”
So, was Irvin digging with a tablespoon-sized shovel, then?
The film does not lie. in that eye-opening moment on Denver’s game-winning drive, it’s clear Irvin, despite all his speak, should serve as a Beta. He is no Alpha. That individual is no longer with the team.
“We need more and more from him,” said head coach Jon Gruden of Irvin on Monday. “I know he’s giving us everything he has. It’s tough on him, certainly, because we do have a lot of new guys around him up front. But we’re happy he’s here.”
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Happy to sport the moniker of “Robin” to Khalil Mack’s “Batman”, the notion appeared as a joke, loving affection. Mack, through his play and blue-collar work ethic, was a paragon of example. Surely, he was held and mauled by opposing lineman over the course of the 64 games he played as a Raider and nary spit a vile word to the officials.
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Irvin, on the other hand, cannot even make it through two games of the new season without giving a ref the business. Moreover, what did it get the Raiders? A costly 15-yard penalty.
The defensive end made his disdain for former Raiders and current Broncos punter Marquette King a secret. Nevertheless, in the game against the eccentric special teamer, Irvin looked more like the village idiot.
Perhaps this serves as the notice Irvin needs to fire up the Alpha Male attitude that is sorely missing on the Raiders defense. After all, there are 14 games remaining on the season.
However, for a player slated to earn $8.25 million this season, Sunday’s lackadaisical effort frames Irvin in a negative light.