It’s June which means we’ve reached the dog days of summer, so I figured it’s a good time to kick off a column where we go back and relive some of the Las Vegas Raiders’ top performances of last season. First up, is the first game of the season where Maxx Crosby’s Pro BowlCampaign got off to a scorching start against the Baltimore Ravens.
The season opener was Crosby’s highest-graded game overall (93.0Pro Football Focus credited him with 13 pressures that he created. The latter was the Most defenders of the weekHis 93.1 Pass-rush GradeWith his new teammate Chandler Jones, he was tied for the first place among edge defenders.
Crosby’s numbers against the run weren’t quite as eye-popping but still impressive nonetheless. He managed to generate Three run stopsThis tied him for the second-most position at the time and helped him earn a solid 70.5 rating.
While the Pro Bowler’s outing looked great on paper, the tape was even prettier.
Crosby was recently seen at Von Miller’s Pass Rush Summit showing off how he executes his dirty spin move and we’ll get an example of it here.
It looks like he’s trying to work a line game or stunt with the defensive tackle — Solomon Thomas — initially but it doesn’t work. However, Crosby adapts, works back to the outside and puts Alejandro Villanueva — the right tackle — in a spin cycle to go get a hit on Lamar Jackson. Watch how at the top of the rush Villanueva looks lost or like he doesn’t know where Crosby is, and all he can try to do is trip the pass rusher. As a rusher, that’s how you know you got the offensive lineman good.
This is also a great example of Crosby’s talent. He is never satisfied and has the athleticism necessary to reach the quarterback in almost any situation.
Another great pass rush, but this one has a better end.
It’s third and 13 so the defensive line can pin ears back and get after the quarterback without having to worry too much about playing the run. Villanueva and Crosby know Crosby’s great get-off. Crosby uses this to his advantage by slowing playing it off the line. He can then get a two-way move on the tackle, so he could do an inside or exterior move. As he begins to work his move, he kicks it into second.
This rep from the pass rusher is a great example of the use and flexibility of defensive line coaches. His move isn’t terribly fancy, it’s just a simple hand swipe, but he has active hands to defeat the offensive lineman and finish with a strong rip to clear the blocker and help turn the corner.
You can see how tight he turns when clearing the tackle. Jackson is only seven feet deep in the pocket when Crosby reaches him level. Crosby makes almost a 90-degree turn to get the bag. If he’s a yard too deep, there’s a good chance Jackson scrambles and picks up the first down.
Crosby’s hand swipe worked again in this clip.
He changes up the timing of his swipe to throw off the tackle’s timing and balance, and his hands are so quick that this almost works like a ghost move where he takes his hands away so fast that the blocker is even more off balance. It proves to be very effective as Villanueva holds on to his position and ends up on the floor after Crosby has completed with a rip to win a clean victory.
Yannick Ngakoue’s interior pressure forces Jackson to move off his spot and make an off-platform throw. Jackson does a nice move and makes a good throw. These are the plays you want to force the former MVP of the MVP to make.
It’s almost impossible to stop a pass rusher when they can win with finesse like the previous reps and with power like this one.
Crosby works up the field for his first few steps to get the left tackle — Ronnie Stanley, No. 79 — moving and prevent Stanley from anchoring. Crosby accelerates to speed up when he gets five yards deep into the pocket.
What makes this move even more impressive is he gets his hand in the perfect spot, on the v of Stanley’s neck, uses one arm to get extension and gives a perfect example of what the saying “one arm is longer than two” means. Also, look at his pad level and how he’s able to gain a leverage advantage, all of which helps put the tackle on skates and prevents Jackson from being able to finish this throw.
Crosby had been winning close to play-in and play-out, so Baltimore’s coaches try to help its offensive tackles with a wide receiver chipping him. However, the Raiders pick the perfect time to call a stunt so he’s more under control and already working inside.
He does get some help from Quinton Jefferson who is being a good teammate by occupying the guard as the penetrator on the T/E line game, but watch how Crosby doesn’t lose any ground while working laterally to get around Jefferson and the guard. He can close the pocket and grab his second sack thanks to his impressive acceleration.
This play was also on third down in the third quarter, with the Raiders down seven.
Our first clip of Crosby playing the run, where the Ravens call an inside zone with Patrick Ricard — the tight end, No. 42 — working across the formation on the split zone action.
The offense would normally leave Ricard the backside defensive end open and let Ricard handle the end. But Baltimore has their left tackle chip block Crosby before moving up to the second level. They were obviously concerned about Crosby coming down the line and winning inside to blow up play. However, Crosby still gets inside Ricard so he can get involved in the tackle.
It also looks like Stanley’s — the left tackle — spacing is off while trying to block Denzel Perryman, which gives Perryman enough room to make the tackle. So, that’s one way how Crosby was able to help open things up for his teammates.
The Ravens have a first-and-10 from the 30-yard line in overtime with a chance of winning the game. They run an outside zone to Crosby’s side where Villanueva is going to try and reach the defensive end to open a lane to the outside or turn it into a drive block and ride the defensive end out.
The tackle doesn’t work because the end does a great deal of using his hands and defeating the block to secure the edge. The cherry on top here is Crosby finishes with a violent rip move to get Villanueva’s arms off him and disengage from the block to go factor into the play.
So, not only did he do his job and force the running back — Latavius Murray, No. 28 — to cut it up the field, but Crosby also finishes and finds a way to get on the stat sheet, again.