The Seattle Seahawks defense has been simply stellar this season. Through four games, they are averaging some impressive totals, ranking second in points allowed with 11.8, sixth in total yards allowed with 300.2, fifth in pass yards allowed with 191.2 and 18th in rush yards allowed with 109.0.
Combined with an offense averaging 27.2 points per game, it is easy to understand why they are a favorite to reach the Super Bowl this season.
There is a popular saying: The rich get richer. That is exactly the case when it comes to the Seahawks' defense. The already stout unit is about to get Bruce Irvin—its 2012 first-round pick—back from a four-game suspension.
After being selected with the 15th overall selection in last year's draft, Irvin burst onto the scene by recording nine sacks and one forced fumble during his rookie season (including playoffs).
Irvin was suspended over the offseason for the first four games of the 2013 NFL season for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing substances. Per ESPN.com, Irvin issued this statement released by the team:
I want to apologize to my teammates, coaches and Seahawks fans for making a mistake when I took a substance that is prohibited in the NFL without a medical exemption. I am extremely disappointed in the poor judgment I showed and take full responsibility for my actions. I will not appeal the discipline and instead will focus my energy on preparing for the season so I can begin earning your trust and respect again. I look forward to contributing to the team the moment I return.
Now that Irvin has atoned for his mistake and served his time, he rejoins Seattle and makes the team even stronger than it has been during the first four games of the season.
So, how does Irvin make the Seahawks defense better?
It's simple: The 6'3", 248-pound former defensive end, who is capable of running a 4.5 second 40-yard dash, must be accounted for at all times.
The production of the Seahawks' defensive front has been nicely spread out so far this season. Not one player immediately stands out in terms of quarterback pressures. Seattle has totaled 11 sacks this season—2.5 from Clinton McDonald and Michael Bennett, two from Cliff Avril and one from Tony McDaniel, K.J. Wright, Chris Clemons and O'Brien Schofield.
Irvin will not only add to these sack totals, but his presence will afford all of the aforementioned defenders one-on-one matchups, as offenses will be focusing on the second-year player.
Not only does Irvin make the defensive line better, but he improves the quality of the secondary as well.
Added pressure on opposing quarterbacks limits the amount of time that they have in the pocket, which limits the amount of time that the secondary needs to remain in coverage.
Seattle already has one of the most dangerous tandems of cornerbacks in the NFL with the 6'3" Richard Sherman on the left and the 6'4" Brandon Browner on the right. Sherman already has two interceptions on the year—one returned for a touchdown—and Browner has four passes defensed, despite only playing in two games.
The Seahawks also have a very solid duo at the safety position with Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas—both of whom have two interceptions already this season. Thomas has also forced two fumbles and both players have combined for 48 tackles—the only player on the roster with more is middle linebacker Bobby Wagner.
The addition of Irvin to the defensive line makes a team that has already captured seven interceptions and forced six fumbles that much scarier going forward.
From the defensive line to the safeties and everywhere in between, there does not seem to be a weakness on Seattle's defense.
Head coach Pete Carroll has officially built a monster in Seattle. Now that all of its pieces are in place, expect this team to continue to dominate throughout the duration of the 2013 NFL season.