Before the Las Vegas Raiders had the pass-rushing duo of Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue, they had Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack. Between 2016 and 2017, the two combined for 36.5 sacks and formed a really strong duo. Unfortunately for the team, the pairing was short-lived as Mack was traded before the 2018 season while Irvin was released during the 2018 season.
Three and a half years later and the two are finally reuniting. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Chicago Bears are signing Irvin.
Mack is banged up right now but the two are at least on the same team again and could see the field together again in the near future. Irvin has been out of the league this season after only playing two games for the Seattle Seahawks in 2020. He had zero sacks last season but notched 8.5 with the Carolina Panthers during the 2019 season in only 13 games. He should still have a little bit of juice as a pass rusher. He had his best years playing with Mack so the two could have success playing together again.
ALL the latest Raiders news straight to your inbox! Subscribe to the Heavy on Raiders newsletter here!
Crosby Is NFL’s Highest-Graded Pass Rusher
When the Raiders moved on from Mack and then Irvin, it completely decimated their pass rush. The defense couldn’t get after the quarterback over the last three seasons. However, things have turned around this season as Crosby has been playing like a man possessed. According to Pro Football Focus, he has the highest pass-rush grade in the entire NFL.
Ngakoue has been no slouch either as he’s the NFL’s 21st highest-graded pass rusher. Both Crosby and Ngakoue have been better pass rushers this year than Mack. It took a while but it looks like the Raiders finally figured out their pass-rushing issues. The exciting part is that Crosby is only 24-years-old while Ngakoue is 26. The two should form a formidable duo for years to come. It could be an even stronger duo than what the team had in Irvin and Mack.
Crosby Talks Raiders’ Recent Struggles
The pass rush has been improved for the Raiders but they are coming off a weak performance. Against the Kansas City Chiefs, the team didn’t notch a single sack. Crosby did his part as he had 13 pressures but still couldn’t take down Patrick Mahomes. Las Vegas ended up losing 41-14, which was the worst loss of the season. Crosby believes the Raiders need to improve.
“It just starts with the day-to-day process,” Crosby said. “We’ve just got to keep getting better and find ways to improve. It’s tough – we’ve beaten good teams; we’ve lost to teams we feel like we should have beaten.”
Things are starting to get rocky for the Raiders and the defense is coming off a bad performance. Getting the defense back on track will start with the pass rush. Crosby continues to impress but Ngakoue needs to pick things up after a rough week. If those two can get back to their dominant wins, the Raiders should get back in the win column.