One of the most hyped aspects of the Las Vegas Raiders heading into the 2022 season was the pass rush. Through the first two games, the hype has quickly died down. Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby have combined for 1.0 sacks. In fact, Crosby is the only player on the team who has a sack.
That haunted the Raiders in Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals as quarterback Kyler Murray ran all over the field in the second half and led the team to a come-from-behind win. Former Raiders defensive back turned analyst Bucky Brooks has not been impressed with the duo of Crosby and Jones so far, via Raiders.com:
Against the Cardinals, the Raiders’ pass-rushing tandem combined for a sack and five QB hits, but could not come up with a key stop in the fourth quarter with the team nursing a 16-point lead. Perhaps the cumulative effect of chasing a “rabbit” (dual-threat quarterback) all over the field wore down the veterans, particularly with the Cardinals running 50-plus offensive plays in the second half.
Crosby was given a $94 million contract this offseason while Jones was given $51 million. The Raiders paid them big money to close out games. Brooks put the two on notice and says they need to step up:
The combination of up-tempo football and non-stop pursuit drills left the defensive line weary and unable to chase down an explosive dual-threat quarterback with the game on the line. Considering how Murray ran around to block a few times on each of his critical two-point conversions, the Raiders need their star pass rushers to find a way to finish the game like an MLB closer in the ninth inning.
In a division loaded with premier quarterbacks, teams invested heavily in pass rushers to close out games in the fourth quarter. The Raiders need Jones and Crosby to play like superstars in the fourth quarter to prevent elite quarterbacks from stealing wins at the end of games.
Crosby Playing Much Better Than Jones
It’s easy to see that Crosby has 1.0 sack in two games and suggest he’s not been making an impact but that’s not necessarily the case. He’s been the only defender who has been providing consistent pressure. According to Pro Football Focus, Crosby is tied for the third most pressures in the NFL right now with 12.
Crosby is getting to the quarterback, he’s just not finishing. Jones, on the other hand, has looked like a shell of himself. Through two games, he only has four pressures and is the 85th ranked EDGE rusher in the NFL right now, per PFF. Jones has been a sack master for a long time and could get Hall of Fame votes one day but he hasn’t been showing the Raiders much of anything to start the season.
Jones Needs Big Week vs. Titans
Luckily for Jones, the perfect matchup for him to get back on track could be coming up. While he was still with the Cardinals last season, the team faced the Tennessee Titans in the opener. In that game, Jones had 5.0 sacks. It was one of the best performances from a defender last season.
However, he only had 5.5 more sacks through the next 16 games. He has to be hoping he can replicate last year’s success against the Titans on Sunday. If he has another dud of a game, the Raiders will have to start worrying about what they have in Jones.