With Bruce Irvin being suspended over the weekend, to the tune of four games for Adderall use, the Seahawks newly found depth on the defensive line will seriously be tested. Irvin sent out a contrite apology on Twitter and added that he will not be appealing the suspension. This, in combination with the uncertainty about Chris Clemons ability to recover from an ACL injury in time for their season opener has raised some serious questions about how the Seahawks defense is going to look.
Word out of practices and OTAs was that Bruce Irvin was lining up mostly as the sam linebacker and that K.J. Wright had taken the vacancy at willbacker left by the departure of Leroy Hill in free agency. If Pete Carroll had planned on making Irvin the starting sam linebacker as a means of working him into the starting lineup, while putting Wright on the right side to aid in run defense, this puts him right back at the drawing board.
The obvious solution is to add an inexpensive veteran during training camp at a discounted price. Names like Daryl Smith, Nick Barnett and Will Witherspoon come to mind when thinking of some of the more high profile replacements that also have experience in a 4-3 defense. Only problem is the majority of that experience, for all the aforementioned names, was as a middle linebacker. How well those veterans would adapt to playing on the edge is yet to be seen.
If the Seahawks are looking for an in-house solution, the best fill in would be the speedy Malcolm Smith. Smith isn’t the best tackler, but his speed makes his a serious asset in coverage, especially when game planning for tight ends. Besides, who doesn’t want to see a linebacker with 4.4 speed in the lineup?
Another option would be nine year veteran Heath Farwell. He is a bit of dark horse candidate for the job, but he does have a wealth of experience in this league - something Malcolm Smith, for the most part, lacks.
There’s no easy or obvious answer to the problem presented to the Seahawks by Bruce Irvin’s suspension, but luckily for the Seahawks they’re about as well equipped to deal with this as any team. Now that they have this wealth of depth in their defensive front seven, it will be interesting to see where all these new pieces get put to use. Or how well they hold up.
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