Over the last few years, the Raiders have struggled to get sacks.
With good pass rushers notoriously hard to find, the team finished dead last with just 13 sacks in 2018 — Jon Gruden’s first season back as head coach. There was an uptick in 2019, with the club recording 32 to finish 25th. But last year that ranking fell back down to 29th with the defense picking up only 21 sacks.
Las Vegas has done plenty to address the issue, like hiring Gus Bradley to take over as defensive coordinator and signing prized free agent edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue. Defensive end Maxx Crosby is developing into a solid edge presence as well, leading the team with 10.0 sacks and 7.0 sacks in each of his first two seasons, respectively.
But veteran newcomer Gerald McCoy told Vic Tafur of TheAthletic.com that he has some lofty expectations for the Raiders’ pass rush in 2021.
“I believe our two ends can be double-digit sack guys,” McCoy told Tafur. “I believe Carl Nassib can be a seven-, eight-sack guy. I believe we will have a couple of defensive tackles who are north of five or six sacks.”
Doing some conservative math, that’s about 38 to 40 sacks McCoy is accounting for — just out of the defensive line. And given the team’s track record over the past few years, that does not seem realistic. Ngakoue and Crosby have each reached double-digit sacks before, but Ngakoue has done it only once in five seasons. Nassib had a career-high 6.5 sacks with Tampa Bay in 2018, but had just 2.5 sacks with Las Vegas last year.
If Las Vegas’ offense is humming and the team is consistently ahead in the second half of games, then the club’s defense should get plenty of opportunities to sack QBs. But the Raiders have plenty to prove defensively before McCoy’s lofty expectations become realistic goals.