Job No. 1 for Broncos: Stop Raiders pass rusher Maxx Crosby
Sep 7, 2023, 6:09 PM | Updated: Sep 8, 2023, 11:37 am
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Through the Raiders’ recent dominance of the Broncos, there have been two common threads in silver and black:
- Running back Josh Jacobs finds ways to generate yardage.
- Edge rusher Maxx Crosby is a problem. A massive one.
Crosby has 11.5 sacks in eight games played against the Broncos. But the worst part is that he is remarkably consistent. He has at least one sack in seven consecutive games against the Broncos. The Raiders won six of them.
And after posting four sacks in two games last season, he has eight in his last four games against Denver.
“He’s really flexible,” Broncos coach Sean Payton said. “He’s a tremendous worker, athletic, [and] he’s got one of those motors that doesn’t stop, and he can get to your edge quickly.
“His ability to bend and then his stamina are things that stand out.”
CONSISTENCY IS KEY FOR MAXX CROSBY
Remember how Khalil Mack dominated for the Raiders against Denver? He had 10 sacks in as many games against the Broncos with the Raiders as Crosby possesses. But half of those sacks came in a single game — a 15-12 Oakland win on Dec. 12, 2015.
Conversely, Maxx Crosby’s gift is his consistency against the Broncos.
“Yeah, he’s a dangerous player. Disruptive — consistently disruptive,” offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi said.
And, as Lombardi elaborated, Crosby is front and center in the Broncos’ tactical planning
“I think every play we put in the game plan, we think about who’s gotta block him and how we’re going to affect him,” Lombardi said. “So, he’s definitely a problem that consumes a lot of our energy throughout the week.”
But Lombardi has familiarity with game-planning for Crosby, having called plays for the Los Angeles Chargers the last two years.
Crosby notched two sacks in those four games. Both came in the same 2021 contest, meaning Lombardi’s protection had three clean sheets in four opportunities.
That helps, but as Lombardi noted, you don’t need experience to know what you’re facing.
“I don’t think you have to play against him to know how good he is. You can see it on film, but we have spent a lot of time over the last year looking at him. There’s some familiarity there, which kind of helps to get a head start, for sure.”