The Las Vegas Raiders have been a mess this season. At just three wins through 11 weeks, the new regime has not put together a promising follow-up to a team that made a surprising playoff appearance in 2021. As their offense has struggled to be better than a middle-of-the-pack tier, their defense has found itself in the bottom 10 of points and yards allowed per game.
It is not fair, however, to call this team devoid of talent on either side of the ball—even on defense. Even as the Raiders’ defense has struggled to stop opponents week in and week out, one player has helped the unit keep its head above water with his play: edge rusher Maxx Crosby.
For my money, Crosby is and has been one of the best edge rushers in the NFL for the last few years. Given what kind of statistical output he’s had this year with a defense that doesn’t have much talent around him, he deserves even more recognition and credit as one of the best NFL defenders this year.
To emphasize just how poor the defense has been around Crosby, here are a few stats. Crosby is tied for fifth in the NFL with nine sacks through 11 weeks, including three multi-sack performances. There isn’t a single Raiders defender this year with more than one (1) sack in that same span. The rest of Las Vegas’ roster has four sacks combined, meaning Crosby has more than doubled the sacks total of the rest of his team.
Maxx Crosby with the cold 🥶 spin move to get his 2nd sack. Chop, spin, hook. Broncos go empty on 3rd down, the C works to his left to double Tillery but that leaves the RT 1-on-1.#RaiderNation pic.twitter.com/7PeQSDCuuu
— Ryan Holmes (@Rholm22) November 22, 2022
Here’s another stat: Crosby is alone at the top of the NFL leaderboard in tackles for a loss with 16 this year. The players with the next most are Za’Darius Smith and Jonathan Allen with 14 each. The rest of the Raiders’ defense has 20 combined. Not for nothing, he’s also tied for seventh in the NFL with his two forced fumbles. The fourth-year edge defender is putting the team on his back.
— Ryan Holmes (@Rholm22) November 17, 2022
After 10 games, Crosby is on pace for 15 sacks and 27 tackles for a loss, which would be tied for seventh all-time in a single season. That’s incredible production for any player in a vacuum, but for him to do this without a strong defensive unit around him is even more impressive. When opponents are preparing to play the Raiders, they really only need to focus their double teams and extra blockers on Crosby, yet he still continues to win reps at the line of scrimmage.
When thinking about all of the top defenders in the NFL this year, it’s easy to focus on the other guys who are having monster seasons with more successful teams. Micah Parsons, Matt Judon, Za’Darius Smith, and Nick Bosa, for instance, all come to mind. But do not forget to include Crosby on that list. He’s having an unbelievable year with no support around him, and on a team that’s having its fair share of struggles, he’s one of the very few bright spots.
Maxx Crosby is one of the NFL’s best defenders, and his play this year should only bolster that fact.
- Dec 07, 2022
- Dec 07, 2022