It was supposed to be so much more. In Week 9, the Colts’ offensive line, which had struggled all season, allowed a whopping nine sacks against the New England Patriots. It was supposed to be a get-well game for Patrick Graham’s defense. Yet, all the Raiders could muster was one sack of Matt Ryan in a 25-20 loss.
Thus, a disappointing season continued for the Raiders’ defense, especially big-money free-agent addition Chandler Jones, who was supposed to be a great pass-rush partner for Maxx Crosby. Yet, Jones, 32, has just a half sack this season.
As a team, Las Vegas has just 10 sacks in nine games. which is the fewest in the league. It is a constant source of frustration for Graham’s unit. This week, as he prepares to face Denver’s Russell Wilson, who was hit 17 times in a loss at Tennessee in Week 10, Graham hopes some success is coming and he has put the onus on himself.
“One, it starts with me. Putting them in a good spot to isolate the other teams’ weaknesses and try to get them in the right spot in terms of whether it’s protection, whatever it may be there,” Graham said. “But it starts with today or really last night after we got done grading the film and getting on to the next opponent. The Broncos, they present some challenges. Their offensive line, I know they have some moving pieces around there, but they got good players there. And then the quarterback is mobile, and he could get out get out of situations. So, it starts with working hard and trying to find out where the weaknesses are, and then trying to put our guys in the best spot and work the techniques for the individual battles. So, that’s where it starts.”
Graham said there is no magic solution, especially this late in the season, to find an improve pass-rush, it just comes down to effort and preparation.
“No different than probably most walks of life, it starts first with putting in hard work. That’s what I know they do, they just put more work into it and try to find the solution,” Graham said. “And it starts with the work, then you start turning over every stone and trying to figure out maybe it’s something you could throw a different scheme here or something like that, just in terms of the football part of it. But it starts with the hard work and that’s what we’re getting to today. And it’s our job, we got to find solutions. That’s what I’ve done it in the past.”
NFL leaders in Defeats— Aaron Schatz (@FO_ASchatz) November 16, 2022
M.Crosby LV 21 #RaiderNation
Z.Smith MIN 19 #Skol
Z.Franklin IND, B.Okereke IND, C.Wilkins MIA 18
DT: D.Payne WAS 17
DB: T.Hufanga SF, J.Ramsey LAR 15
Defeats: TO + TFL + plays to prevent 3/4 down conversion.
Crosby is the whole Raiders D.
While the Raiders have been a disappointment as a group, Crosby has stood out. He has seven of the team’s 10 sacks and is tied in the NFL for the league-lead with 14 tackles for loss. Graham is thankful to have Crosby on his side.
“Maxx is one of the most disruptive players in the NFL, whether it’s the tackles for losses, the sacks, the ability to set the edge, the versatility. It’s been really, really pleasant to be around him as a person,” Crosby said. “I didn’t know much about him as a person, but then as a football player, he’s doing everything we’re asking him to do. He’s disruptive out there on the field. He does draw a lot of attention, but most good players in this league, they draw a lot of attention. So, he’s earned that. It’s been really fun to coach him. Really fun to coach him.”
Now, he has to get the rest of the group to come around.