At the Las Vegas Raiders’ June minicamp, free-agent prize Yannick Ngakoue said he and fellow defensive end Maxx Crosby were aiming to become the best pass rush tandem in the NFL.
Seven games into the 5-2 Raiders’ 2021 season and Ngakoue and Crosby are right at the top of the heap when it comes to top NFL pass rushers. They put constant heat on the opposing quarterbacks.
The top 5 players in terms of QB pressures this season:— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 27, 2021
1) #Raiders Yannick Ngakoue
2) #Raiders Maxx Crosby
3) #Bengals Tey Hendrickson
4) #Titans Harold Landry
5) #Broncos Von Millerpic.twitter.com/COR9xi49Rw
Crosby has five sacks and Ngakoue registered has four sacks. But sacks isn’t the whole story. Both Crosby and Ngakoue are pressure hounds. Both of their strong performances this season have been recognized with AFC Defensive of Player of the Weeks awards as Crosby won after Week 1 and Ngakoue won after Week 7.
Years since 2000 when #Raiders had 2 players w/ 4+ sacks thru 7 games:— Josh Dubow (@JoshDubowAP) October 26, 2021
2021: Maxx Crosby 5, Yannick Ngakoue 4
2009: Richard Seymour/Greg Ellis 4 each
2005: Derrick Burgess 7, Warren Sapp 5
In their quest to be the best pass-rush tandem, the competition starts at home. Both Ngakoue and Crosby relentlessly push each other. Ngakoue had this to say about his relationship with Crosby after the Eagles game:
Yannick Ngakoue on Maxx Crosby: "We always compete with each other from the get-offs to how clean we eat, all the way to how much extra work we put into after practice. We're the last two guys to leave. We push each other all the time." #Raiders— Anthony Galaviz (@agalaviz_TheBee) October 25, 2021
Interim Las Vegas head coach Rich Bisaccia vouched for Ngakoue’s claim. He sees his two stars push each other daily.
“They are the crowned group leaders on defense. It’s a constant competition as to who gets there first to practice, who’s first in line, what does their individual drill look like, what does their bag drill look like,” Bisaccia said. “It’s non-stop from those two and they are certainly the power of example of what it’s supposed to look like. So, they are defensive leaders for us, not only by the things that they say and the conversations they have with the other men on defense, but the way in which they carry themselves throughout the building, the time they come in, the time they spend, the time they leave and the way in which they attack practice.
“So, it’s been impressive. We hope that it continues and each day a couple guys are starting to do some of the things they are doing. You can see the relationship not only that they have with the other players on defense, look what Quinton [Jefferson] is doing in there and look what Solomon [Thomas] is doing in there. And Cle [Ferrell] is getting better. He had a big rush in the fourth quarter. So, it’s contagious right now. Their attitudes are contagious.”
Watching these two play together is a blast and the way they work, don’t expect the fun to stop any time soon.