The Las Vegas Raiders got former No. 4 overall pick Clelin Ferrell back for the New York Jets game, and he made his presence felt in a big way.
Las Vegas Raiders’ second-year defensive end Clelin Ferrell has turned into a sturdy run defender as an NFL player. He was on pace to lead the team in run stops before falling ill to Covid-19 a few weeks ago. The Raiders’ defense missed his presence in the starting lineup with losses against Kansas City and Atlanta.
For all his work stuffing the run, Ferrell has left something to be desired rushing the passer, namely getting sacks. Many fans have bemoaned his selection at 4th overall due to his lack of sack production, and have criticized the front office for prioritizing a run player with that pick in today’s NFL.
Ferrell may still have a long way to go justifying his high selection, but he showed up in a major way this Sunday with a dominant performance. Ferrell ended the day with three run stops, one pass deflection, two sacks, two forced fumbles, and a pressure that led to an incomplete pass.
Raiders fans knew he was capable of holding the edge and batting down passes at the line of scrimmage. It was the two strip-sacks that had not been a consistent part of his game so far. Those two sacks would be Ferrell’s first of the season, and they came at crucial times in the game.
Ferrell made an impact in the pass rush on Sunday
The first sack, lining up at the right defensive end, Ferrell used a cross chop technique to bat the hands of tackle Mekhi Becton away before cornering and attacking the ball in Sam Darnold’s hands. Johnathan Hankins would recover the fumble.
Ferrell has struggled to corner so far in his NFL career, so this should come as a pleasant surprise for Raiders fans, and hopefully an indicator of things to come.
The second sack he was lined up inside at three-technique in a pass rush front where the Raiders deployed four defensive ends. To his right was another former Clemson edge player in Vic Beasley. Ferrell and Beasley were running a T-E pass rush game, where Ferrell would attack the inside hip of the tackle and would allow Beasley to loop inside.
Usually, the looper from the outside would be the defender to get the pressure, but the guard and tackle weren’t on the same page and Ferrell took advantage to split the double team and register yet another strip-sack. Maxx Crosby would recover.
Late in the second half Ferrell and Arden Key rotated in at the right defensive end, likely because Ferrell’s conditioning was impacted after being out so long, and many of the Jets’ long runs against the defense came during this time.
Ferrell will be needed at 100% going up against the Indianapolis Colts this week, a team that averages over 100 yards rushing this season. This was a huge step forward for Ferrell, and as the Raiders close out the 2020 season, his continued growth will be paramount if they want to sneak into the playoffs.