For the first time since they traded Khalil Mack, the Las Vegas Raiders have a proven stud pass rusher with Yannick Ngakoue. Through his five NFL seasons, he’s never had less than eight sacks and even reached 12 back in 2017. He will be a major difference-maker for a defense that has struggled for years.
Ngakoue’s presence should also help the other Raiders defensive linemen, especially Maxx Crosby, who has been the team’s most dependable pass rusher over the last two seasons. In fact, Ngakoue believes that Crosby and he will surprise a lot of people.
“I think that Maxx and myself are the best duo that’s going to come hit the scene,” Ngakoue said after Wednesday’s minicamp. “I’m already putting that out there.”
While it may be hyperbolic to suggest that Crosby and Ngakoue are going to form the NFL’s best pass-rushing duo, they could be dynamic. Over the last two seasons, the two have combined for 33 sacks. Plus, Crosby has been working very hard this offseason.
“Maxx is a hard worker. He’s a guy that’s putting in the work,” Ngakoue said. “Literally, I’m lifting weights right now, and Maxx is in there doing things to get better. It’s the dedication and commitment. I can play all day with a guy like that.”
Crosby’s second year wasn’t as impressive as his first but he was injured for much of the season and defenses would focus on him. With Ngakoue bringing an added threat, Crosby could be in for his best year yet.
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Ngakoue Plans to Be ‘Motor’ of Defense
Over the last few years, the Raiders just haven’t had players on the defense who they can rely on to make plays when they need them to. Ngakoue believes that he can be a guy who puts the team on his back when necessary.
“I just want to be the motor to this defense, the motor to the defensive line,” Ngakoue said. “Maxx and myself are both identifying ourselves as the guys that need to put this team on our back as far as the defensive side of the ball.
“Other years don’t matter anymore, it’s a whole new era.”
Based on what Ngakoue is saying, it sounds like he’s ready to take on a strong leadership role for the defense. He’s been in the league a while now and has a proven track record of success. He’s the perfect guy to step up and help whip some of the younger players into shape.
Ngakoue Wants to Set Certain Standards
The problem with the Raiders defense hasn’t been a lack of talent. The team is filled with first and second-round picks. Ngakoue believes the team needs to set a standard as soon as training camp starts before they can even hope to have success during the season.
“When we report back, there’s a certain standard we need to set from the day that we touch that field to the day that camp is over with,” Ngakoue said. “Until we set that standard within ourselves, we can’t do it on the field versus other teams.
“When we build that trust and we get the camaraderie going as far as camp, I feel like a lot of great things will happen.”
What Ngakoue is saying will be music to the ears of Raiders fans. The team already has a really good offense. If the defense takes a leap in 2021, the entire team should be much better.