When you think of the Las Vegas Raiders, many words come to mind, but none of them are excellence or dominance in recent seasons. This is especially true when referring to the defense, a unit that was led by the now-fired Paul Guenther.
Coming off the heels of a historically bad year, the Raiders made a change at defensive coordinator, and with that, comes questions. The biggest of them all being, what will they do about their atrocious pass rush?
Gus Bradley will now be heading the defense, taking over a unit that put together a meager 21 sacks. Out of that total, only 11.5 came from the edges, which should be very concerning. Before fans think it’s all doom and gloom, Clelin Ferrell did manage 21 pressures per Pro Football Reference.
Overall, Pro Football Focus shows Ferrell posted a 70.0 pass-rushing grade for 2020. So there was definitely some improvements to be had, Ferrell could easily increase that sack total in 2021.
The only other EDGE rusher of any consequence on the Raiders is, of course, Maxx Crosby. After coming onto the scene in 2019, his numbers across the board dipped, most noteworthy were his sacks. He regressed from 10 sacks his rookie campaign to just seven last year under Guenther.
It wasn’t due to a lack of effort though if you compare his pressures, they were nearly identical, 31 and 32, respectively. Clearly, he was still generating pressure, the problem could’ve lied elsewhere.
Crosby saw the field much more in 2020, at least more than his rookie campaign. He started 16 games instead of 10, so that’s one thing. Another, Crosby’s total snap increased in the process, going from 750 to 905 last year.
It’s possible that his impact was diluted but pressing him into more snaps, overexposure if you will. There’s nothing wrong if Crosby is more suited to be a situational pass-rusher, playing in a rotation as opposed to every down.
In Bradley’s system next year it’ll be paramount that the Raiders’ front four generates pressure as we won’t be seeing too many blitzes. If that’s the case, the Silver could instead invest in a free agent EDGE rusher and pursue an interior lineman early in April’s NFL draft.