Oakland Raiders rookie defensive end Maxx Crosby has emerged as quite a pleasant surprise for the defense thus far in the 2019 NFL season.
The Raiders put an emphasis on shoring up their abysmal pass rush during the offseason and their efforts have undoubtedly paid huge dividends up front. Crosby was among the notable pieces brought in to help with the resurgence after being taken in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Despite seeing limited playing time to start the year, Crosby has managed to make the most out of his opportunities with 23 tackles, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and three pass deflections. Although his performance this season has come as a surprise to many, it seems he has become accustomed to being overlooked.
According to Scott Bair of NBC Sports, Crosby says the hard work he has put in is simply starting to come to fruition:
“I had production the last two years of college, a lot of it,” Crosby said. “When I came to the NFL, I knew that I could get it done. They break down small pieces of your game before the draft, some that don’t even matter, and I just used that as another chip on my shoulder. I’m very confident in my abilities. I really don’t listen to outside noise. I just do what I do, and it has been working.
“I feel like I’ve always been slept on and overlooked, but that’s just more motivation.”
Despite the hounding pressure Crosby has generated off the edge, it has not resulted in very many sacks this season. Regardless, he is optimistic that it is only a matter of time before they do:
“Sacks come in bunches. They will be there if I keep playing hard,” Crosby said. “Personally, I can’t worry about sacks and trying to get them If you’re thinking too much and getting sack happy, you’re going to do things the coaches aren’t going to be happy about. Just do your assignment and go 100 mph. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
It is undoubtedly encouraging to see that Crosby is not getting too hung up on the sack numbers and remains focused making opposing quarterbacks feel uncomfortable. There is no question that his hounding play will only encourage the Raiders to get him more involved heading into the final stretch of the regular season.
Crosby will get a bit more competition for snaps following the addition of defensive end Dion Jordan heading into Week 11. Regardless, the rookie is well on his way to etching out an integral role for himself in this defense.