The Raiders had a lot of things go wrong last year, but perhaps chief amongst them was their total lack of production in the trenches. They had the fewest amount of sacks in the NFL and gave up a ton of sacks themselves.
One of the obvious focuses in free agency and the Draft was shoring up both the offensive and defensive lines. To that end, the Raiders signed tackle Trent Brown to help keep Derek Carr upright and have recently signed guard Richie Incognito to fill the hole left by trading Kelechi Osemele. The Raiders used the draft to acquire three pass-rushers: Clelin Ferrell in the first round, Maxx Crosby in the fourth, and project Quinton Bell in the seventh.
Crosby this week was on the After Further Review Podcast on raiders.com, and he had plenty to say about using last year’s shortcomings as motivation for the 2019 Raider squad.
“Yeah, we do talk about last year,” said Crosby. “We literally had it up in the weight room today. The number 13 and 52. That was how many sacks we got, which was lowest in the NFL, and 52 sacks allowed, which is, I think, right at the top. The coaches keep reiterating that, and it’s something that we look at as a challenge. Me, Clelin [Ferrell], Quinton [Bell], we’re all learning everything on the fly and trying to do everything we can to get on the field and make a name for ourselves, but at the same time, everybody’s in it together. We’re all trying to make that number completely different than last year, and obviously, for the offense, they are trying to protect the quarterback and be successful.”
“It’s a good reminder to have,” Crosby continued. “For us as new guys, we’re going through a workout and things get tough, you think you can take a rep off, in the back our head we gotta know they brought us here for a reason, they believed in us, they invested in us. We’ve gotta bring our playing style to the table. I look at it as a challenge to raise that [sack] number, and Clelin and Quentin and the rest of the D-line are excited to go out and change that.”
Earlier this week Paul Guenther referred to Crosby as a “Cadillac coming off the edge”, and PFF predicted that Crosby would take over the starting role at left defensive end and relegate Arden Key to situational pass-rushing duties. If Crosby keeps up the strong play he’s exhibited in practice so far, that could well come to fruition, and the Raiders with a line including Ferrell, Maurice Hurst and Crosby could exceed last year’s sack total by orders of magnitude.