The Oakland Raiders are planning to raise the bar for outside linebacker Bruce Irvin.
After two productive seasons, Irvin is being asked to take the next step under new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther.
“I knew he was a really gifted rusher,” the 46-year-old Guenther said, via ESPN.com. “… Just coming here, I thought his best assets for us was to go forward rather than go backwards. He’s done a good job with what we’re asking him to do in the base fronts. Obviously, we know what he can do as a pass-rusher. Hopefully, we can get him over a double-digit (sack) mark this year. That’s the goal for him.”
Irvin, 30, came to Oakland as a free agent in 2016 after four seasons with the Seattle Seahawks, which included an eight-sack rookie campaign after being selected with the 15th overall pick of the 2012 NFL Draft. He also helped the Seahawks win Super Bowl XLVIII and advance to play in Super Bowl XLIX.
The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Irvin then joined the Raiders in 2015, had seven sacks in his first year and followed that up with eight en route to becoming the team’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner.
Guenther spent the past 14 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, serving as their defensive coordinator since 2014.
When Marvin Lewis was retained as the head coach of the Bengals after last season, Guenther made it known he would explore other opportunities.
The Bengals finished 16th in points allowed last season and ranked 22nd, 11th, 17th and 18th in total yards allowed in the four years under Guenther.
In Guenther’s four seasons as defensive coordinator, Cincinnati limited opposing passers to just an 80.1 quarterback rating, ranking first in the NFL over that span.