Veteran pass-rusher Bruce Irvin wanted to come home to Atlanta all along. Now it's a reality.
Irvin, who was born in Atlanta and played high school football in the area, agreed to a one-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons on Tuesday. Irvin, 31, should help bolster the pass rush working alongside former sack champ Vic Beasley Jr. and Takk McKinley. In fact, McKinley tweeted to Irvin "let's eat," implying the meal starts on Sunday against rookie Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns (1 p.m. ET, Fox).
Ain't no fun if the homies can't get none! Let's get it!— Bruce Irvin (@BIrvin_WVU11) November 7, 2018
"This was a dream [come] true," Irvin told ESPN about coming home to Atlanta. "The Patriots and Steelers offered more money, but being able to play for my city and my people, you just can't put a price on that."
Irvin hasn't been ashamed to talk about his troubled past, but it's simply motivation for him to strive for more.
Landing in Atlanta is a natural fit for Irvin for another reason. A Super Bowl champ, he played under Falcons coach Dan Quinn in Seattle when Quinn was the Seahawks' defensive coordinator. During the 2013 and 2014 seasons, Irvin recorded 8.5 sacks, 16 quarterback hits and two forced fumbles under Quinn, who also served as the Seahawks' defensive line coach.
Some might look at Irvin's age as a negative, but the Falcons won't ask him to play every down. Also, Atlanta has benefited from the addition of an older pass-rusher in recent years when they added Dwight Freeney during the 2016 Super Bowl season, and Freeney was 36 at the time.
Quinn mentioned getting Irvin on the field "as soon as possible" because Irvin is so familiar with the scheme. Expect Irvin to play either right or left defensive end as a nickel rusher, complementing McKinley (the Falcons' sack leader with 5.5) and Beasley (1 sack). Maybe the addition of Irvin will spark more production out of Beasley.
Before being released by Oakland after eight games, Irvin led the Raiders with three sacks.
The threat of another strong edge rusher should make the Falcons more equipped to pressure opposing quarterbacks, with opportunities opened up for others to win one-on-one battles. The pressure from the interior has gotten a boost as of late with Grady Jarrett, who has bounced back following his ankle injury, and Jack Crawford, who is bringing tremendous effort every game.
The Falcons have 17 sacks, tied for fifth lowest in the NFL. The lack of consistent pressure is part of the reason Quinn's defense is second-to-last in the league on third down, allowing opponents to convert 52 percent of those opportunities.
The offense is what will carry the Falcons (4-4) as they ride a three-game winning streak into the second half of the season. But the addition of Irvin, on paper, plus the imminent return of Pro Bowl middle linebacker Deion Jones from early season foot surgery should make the Falcons that much more dangerous down the stretch.