Raiders

Yannick Ngakoue’s Offseason Proclamation Coming True For Raiders

Upon joining the Las Vegas Raiders, prized free agent Yannick Ngakoue proclaimed that he, and Maxx Crosby, would be a premier pass-rushing duo. Seven weeks into the season, it appears Mr. Ngakoue was correct in his statement.

The Raiders sought to improve their pass rush after a disappointing 2020 season, and acquiring Ngakoue has done just that. The Pro Bowl defensive end has flourished in Vegas under his old head coach Gus Bradley. More importantly, his presence has allowed Maxx Crosby to reach another level; there’s already talk of Defensive Player of the Year consideration. Before the season began, Ngakoue went on record stating that Crosby and himself were about to become something special.

“I think Maxx and myself are the best duo that’s going to come hit the scene — and I’m already putting that out there.” – Via Pro Football Talk, June 16, 2021

Sheer Dominance

Offseason hype is nothing new, and it’s normal for players joining new squads to be overzealous. However, what Ngakoue and Crosby are putting together in 2021 is already noteworthy. That holds more weight when you consider how bad the Raiders have been defensively these past few years.

In seven games this year, Ngakoue has accumulated 17 pressures and five QB knockdowns while totaling four sacks per Pro Football Reference. Last Sunday, ‘91‘ had arguably his best game of the season and showed why he’s one of the two catalysts on this defense. Two sacks, four combined tackles, and two pass deflections while playing 55 snaps is downright impressive. His Pro Football Focus pass-rushing grade of 78.8 and being named AFC Defensive Player of the Week proves further how vital Ngakoue has been to Bradley’s defense.

If you’re a fan of the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, you’ll be happy to know that both Ngakoue and Crosby sit atop their ‘QB Pressure Leaders‘ as well.

Ngakoue’s Impact Has Been Two-Fold

While Yannick has done well for himself, Crosby is playing near elite status. Through seven weeks, Crosby has totaled 12 QB knockdowns and five sacks per PFR, which means he’s been in quarterback’s faces all season long. Let’s not forget that ‘98‘ is held on almost every play; you got to wonder at one point will he start getting those calls?

Possessing one of the deadliest spin moves in the league, Crosby is not only living up to expectations but exceeding them. The question will be whether Crosby can maintain this pace and avoid injury. Another thing to watch will be his snap count; he’s already at 390 in a longer regular season. He’s never played with such a loaded defensive line before, but still, it’s worth monitoring. For now, Raiders fans can rejoice in knowing that Ngakoue was right in the offseason; their team indeed does have a special pass-rushing duo.

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*Top Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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