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Film room: Breaking down Maxx Crosby’s dominant performance against Green Bay

Madd Maxx was on a mission

Green Bay Packers v Las Vegas Raiders
Maxx Crosby
Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

Maxx Crosby’s dominant performances have become common practice. Still, there was something special about his outing during the Las Vegas Raiders’ win against the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football.

Crosby essentially lived in the Packers’ backfield, racking up seven pressures and one sack as a pass-rusher, and four tackles for loss. He also earned an 83.0 run defense grade from Pro Football Focus which was the second-highest among edge defenders for the week.

While the numbers are great, the film was even more impressive.

I like the creativity from Crosby and Patrick Graham here. Crosby lines up as a standup outside linebacker and over the D-gap between the two tight ends before slanting into the C-gap post-snap. That allows him to get off the ball, cross the tight end’s face faster, and get penetration.

He also uses a good rip move to defeat the tight end’s block and continue working up the field. All of that allows Madd Maxx to pick the pulling guard and get a two-for-one, freeing up Tre’von Moehrig to meet the running back in the hole and leading to a gang tackle for a short gain.

This won’t show up on the stat sheet for Crosby, but he makes this play happen.

Here we’re going to see Crosby’s football IQ show up a bit.

The Packers have 21 personnel on the field and split one of their running backs out wide but motion him into the backfield pre-snap. Both of those are pretty good signs that a run play is coming and they end up running split inside zone with the other running back lead blocking on the play side and the tight end working across the formation to seal the backside.

However, Crosby recognizes this, flies off the ball and attacks the mesh point between the quarterback and running back before the tight end can even touch him to get an unblocked TFL. This is a great example of excellent play speed as he was able to quickly diagnose what was going on and use his physical gifts to make the play.

Watch the beginning of the clip again after the tight end goes in motion. Crosby points out that the back who was lined up at receiver will motion in the backfield.

This was the very next play and it’s second and 12. Green Bay tries to widen Crosby and make it more difficult for him to get to the quarterback by putting the tight on his side. However, it all goes for not as Crosby gets a clean win as a pass-rusher with a dirty hand-swipe move. That forces Jordan Love to check it down and puts the offense in third and long.

This is the kind of rep you can only get away with if you’re freakishly athletic.

The Raiders are slanting their defensive line weak but instead of Crosby immediately working to the B-gap, he gets to square on the offensive tackle and hesitates for a tick. From there, he uses his quickness and a picture-perfect arm-over or swim move to make the tackle miss and go get another TFL.

I can almost guarantee that no one else on Las Vegas’ defensive line has the freedom to do this. But when you’re an athlete and one of the best players at your position, no coach is even going to bat an eye, especially when you make a play like this.

There are seven seconds before halftime in the clip above and Green Bay is going for a Hail Mary. Again, they try to mess with Crosby’s angle to the quarterback by putting the slot receiver/tight on the hash and close to the formation, but it doesn’t matter.

Crosby flies off the ball again and that forces the right tackle to open his hips and overset to the inside. Madd Maxx recognizes that, plants his outside foot in the ground and works inside with a beautiful arm-over move to get another clean win as a pass-rusher.

Love is forced out of the pocket and starts scrambling, leading to the end of the half and taking any potential scoring opportunity off the table.

This play came right after Christian Watson’s 77-yard reception in the third quarter.

I believe Crosby is responsible for the C-gap and either Luke Masterson or Tre’von Moehrig fit to the outside, but Crosby freelances a bit here by working around the tight end’s block. This is another situation where only a few players have the freedom to do that, but no coach is going to care when you can make the blocker miss like that and get the TFL from the backside.

Also, a shoutout to John Jenkins, Jerry Tillery and Isaac Rochell for plugging up their gaps which allows Crosby to make this play.

Here’s Crosby’s sack as the Packers run play-action and try to block him with two tight ends which was a terrible idea in hindsight.

Watch how Maxx attacks the first tight end with his hands and great pad level as his helmet is under the tight end’s helmet. That takes care of the first blocker and the second one is barely any help as Crosby rips through that block and shows off his bend to take a perfect angle to Love.

That’s a combination of great awareness to recognize the play design and elite pass-rush skills.

Our next clip comes on third down late in the game as Green Bay was trying to mount a comeback. Las Vegas runs a line game where Bilal Nichols and Adam Butler work wide while Crosby wraps to the inside.

Crosby’s job is to find the first pass-rush lane that’s open, which happens to be the B-gap here. He does a great job of gaining ground while working laterally and that gives the offensive line, and specifically the left guard in this instance, less time to react to the stunt or recover.

From there, it’s just a matter of his closing speed on the quarterback as Maxx gets to Love and prevents Love from finishing the throw so the ball falls short of the target.

We’ll end with the game-winning pick!

There’s not much to break down here as Crosby just wins with a perfect bull rush where he never lets the right tackle even come close to setting his base. This is just physically dominant and all the tackle can do is hold on for dear life.

Also, shoutout to Tillery and Malcolm Koone for getting pressure on the other side to help force Love out of the pocket.