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Raiders-Jaguars: Trying to find a pass rush

One of the Raiders’ many disappointments has been lack pressure

Las Vegas Raiders v Kansas City Chiefs
Chandler Jones
Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

It’s difficult to pinpoint the most disappointing aspect of the Las Vegas Raiders’ 2-5 start to the season. However, their lack of a consistent pass-rush is certainly near the top of the list.

After struggling to find a strong pass-rush for a few years, the Raiders enjoyed a strong pass-rush presence, for the most part, in 2021 with star Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue leading the way. The new Las Vegas brass traded Ngakoue to the Indianapolis Colts and brought in Chandler Jones on a three-year deal (with $34 million in guaranteed money) within minutes of each other in March.

The new brass was with Jones in New England and is comfortable with him. Yet, he has not worked out for the Raiders yet. Jones, 32, has just one half of a sack this season and has just a total of six sacks in his last 21 games. Crosby is doing Crosby things and he has six sacks. But he has been pretty quiet the past two games.

The Raiders have just nine sacks in seven games (dead last in the NFL) and are near the bottom of the league in pressures.

The Raiders’ Week 9 opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars, are protecting quarterback Trevor Lawrence fairly well. They have allowed 12 sacks in eight games. Conversely, the Raiders offensive line has allowed 17 sacks in seven games. So, it will be a challenge for this defense.

Las Vegas defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said this week the Raiders are continuing to look for pass-rush consistency.

“Well, it always starts with me in terms of just got to figure out a way to coach it better and put them in better spots to create some more negative plays in terms of the pass rush and getting some consistent pressure based on the flow of the game and how the game goes. I think they had 32 carries last week,” Graham said. Again, no excuses. We just got to figure it out and just find a way to be more consistent in terms of getting pressure on the quarterback, but it starts with me.

“That’s what we’re working on today heading into the game versus Jacksonville. They got a young quarterback who can throw the ball all around the field, have some unique weapons on the perimeter in terms of the passing game, and so the process starts there. And they got a pretty big and athletic o-line that presents some challenges in terms of getting to the quarterback. So, we just got to stay diligent there and just working hard today and for the rest of the week to try to figure out a plan.”

Graham added that the Raiders will try to get creative and won’t stop trying to figure out their pass-rush woes.

“Obviously, when you look at it, 2-5 and we got we got to find some ways to create more pressure. We got to find ways to just help the team win, that’s the biggest part. You know, that’s the biggest thing,” Graham said. “I’m not concerned about numbers in terms of pressure or anything like that. How can we affect the quarterback more? How can we create negative plays? Does it involve going into the bag of tricks? Sometimes. I mean, again, we’re in the early parts of the process right now, but sometimes it’s just trying to see if we could do some stuff better. But we’re open for all things right now. So, that’s a normal week of preparation in terms of getting ready for a team.”