It’s been a bumpy road for the Las Vegas Raiders throughout the last two seasons. In their ’21 campaign, the Silver and Black did what seemed impossible as they carved out a spot in the playoffs despite losing both their head coach and premier wideout mid-season. This [unlikely] success didn’t last long, though. After the 2021 season officially concluded for the Raiders, team owner Mark Davis elected to bring in a new head coach-general manager tandem. Despite acquiring the best receiver in football, Davante Adams, the new regime in Las Vegas paved the way to a disastrous 6-11 season.
It’s not all bad in Sin City, however. Throughout these last two years, the Raiders stand alone as the only team to house more than one player who earned an “elite” grade in each of the last two NFL seasons.
Only eight players across the league have earned a grade of 90+ in both 2021 and 2022, via Pro Football Focus. Thanks to their quarterback, the Bengals and Bills each roster one of these eight players. San Francisco’s Trent Williams and Cleveland’s Myles Garrett also achieved this feat, with 2022 Offensive Player of the Year Justin Jefferson and four-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald doing the same. The remaining two players are Davante Adams and Maxx Crosby.
Davante Adams and Maxx Crosby earn “elite” grade in back-to-back seasons
The Silver and Black made their way to the postseason in 2021, and Maxx Crosby was a big reason why.
Per PFF’s database, Crosby led the entire NFL in pressures (101), hurries (72) and quarterback hits (19). Crosby’s 24.4% win-rate against offensive linemen was the highest percentage league-wide among all players with at least 40 pass-rush snaps. Even with these numbers, 20 players across the league were able to log more sacks than the Raiders’ edge rusher (10). Because of this, Crosby finished as the fourth-highest graded defensive lineman despite placing first in most analytical categories.
All the same, a grade of 91.4 is very-much brag-worthy.
One year after returning to the playoffs, the Raiders finished their season with an underwhelming record of 6-11. Las Vegas’ defense went from allowing the 14th-least total yards (5,732) to the fifth-most (6,216). The team went from posting 35 sacks to only 27; the third-lowest number in the NFL. The defense took a big step backwards as a whole, but Crosby was still a superstar.
Crosby ended his ’22 campaign with the third-most pressures (81), seventh-most hurries (44) and second-most quarterback hits (22).
Although the fourth-year pass-rusher didn’t finish with the most quarterback hits league-wide as he did the year prior, he still upped his total by three. The sacks went up as well, going from 10 in 2021 to 15 in 2022. This time, only four players across the National Football League finished with more sacks than Crosby.
His 90.1 grade wasn’t as high as it was the previous year, but at 90+, PFF still categorizes it as an “elite” mark.
Then, there’s Raiders wideout Davante Adams
There’s not much to say about Davante Adams that hasn’t already been said. “The best in the business,” as Raider Nation proudly proclaims.
Adams finished the 2021 season with 123 catches, 1,553 yards and 11 touchdowns. With a grade of 92.7, Adams ranked first among not only wide receivers, but running backs and tight ends as well. In fact, no offensive player who wasn’t a quarterback reached Adams’ grade.
New team? No problem.
Now on the Raiders, Adams totaled 100 receptions, 1,516 receiving yards, and a league-high 14 receiving touchdowns. For the third year in a row, the Fresno State alum saw his name on the first-team All-Pro list. Likewise, for the third year in a row, Adams earned a grade of 90+ (90.1).
Fresh off of a miserable 6-win season, Raider Nation doesn’t have much to smile about. However, when you have a Maxx Crosby on defense and a Davante Adams on offense, there’s always a reason to be optimistic.
Can Adams keep it up with yet another new man under center?
While Carr and Adams had never teamed up in the NFL, the pair spent two seasons together in college. Although it had been practically a decade since the duo was back together at Fresno State, there had already been a pre-existing bond between the two. With Garoppolo, there’s no such bond.
Still, there’s no reason to think Davante Adams won’t continue his success – after all, he’s Davante Adams.
There’s no reason to think Crosby won’t continue wrecking havoc, either. With the seventh-overall pick in this year’s draft, the Raiders grabbed edge rusher Tyree Wilson to pair with both Crosby and veteran pass-rusher Chandler Jones. Good luck, opposing quarterbacks.
*Top Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images