As the New York Giants gear up for their Week 9 matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders, the return of quarterback Daniel Jones provides a glimmer of hope to a struggling offense. However, the offensive line faces the formidable task of protecting Jones from the relentless pressure of Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby.
The Giants’ offensive line ranks at the bottom of the league
The Giants’ offensive line, plagued by injuries and poor performance, has been ranked among the worst in the NFL this season. Their inability to safeguard their quarterback was painfully evident during Jones’ neck injury suffered in Week 5, which was a direct result of failed protection by offensive linemen Joshua Ezeudu.
With a staggering 41 sacks allowed this season, tying them with the Washington Commanders for the most in the league, Big Blue’s vulnerable offensive line plays right into the hands of the talented Crosby.
Maxx Crosby is one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL
Crosby is undoubtedly one of the best edge rushers in the league. His overall Pro Football Focus grade of 91.6 is the third-highest grade at the position. Crosby’s PFF grades of 90.7 in pass rushing and 90.3 in run defense attest to his well-rounded skills and versatility, proving that he is a force to be reckoned with.
As the NFL’s leader in pressures among edge defenders with 47, Crosby’s ability to create havoc in the backfield will pose a challenge for the Giants’ offensive line. His 16.2% pressure rate is remarkable, ranking him seventh among all defensive players. Furthermore, his 6.5 sacks are tied for eighth in the league.
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Crosby is on a tear in recent weeks
Heading into this matchup, Crosby is riding a wave of success following his exceptional performance against the Detroit Lions. Despite the Lions’ victory, Crosby left a lasting impact on the game. His presence was felt throughout the game, which was evident when he caught wide receiver Jameson Williams six yards behind the line of scrimmage.
However, his most impressive moment came at the goal line, where he skillfully ripped the ball out of RB Craig Reynolds’ control, denying Detroit a touchdown.
Crosby ended this contest with eight total tackles, one tackle for loss, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, and one QB hit.
The Giants could be getting reinforcements on the offensive line
This upcoming Week 9 matchup will be Crosby’s second meeting with Big Blue. In their last encounter, Crosby finished with a stat line of three tackles, including one tackle for loss, and one QB hit.
Although the potential return of Giants’ starting left tackle Andrew Thomas is looming around the corner, Crosby typically lines up on the opposite side of the field, so whether or not Thomas suits up on Sunday won’t change anything for Crosby. He will likely be facing Evan Neal or Tyre Phillips, both of whom have struggled this season.
According to PFF, Phillips has outperformed Neal in his two starts, but both players have shown vulnerabilities. Neal holds a 7.1% pressure rate, while Phillips’ rate is even worse at 9.2%. This suggests that Crosby will have a field day against either opponent, making it crucial for the Giants to provide reinforcements on the right side of their offensive line.
Slowing down Crosby will be the main objective in Week 9
With Jones coming off a neck injury, keeping him protected becomes the main priority for the offensive line. If Crosby is able to take advantage of the weak right side of the line, the offense can seemingly give the Raiders the win. With a record of 3-5, Las Vegas isn’t out of the playoff race just yet.
With many changes, including the firing of head coach Josh McDaniels and the promotion of former Giant Antonio Pierce as interim HC , the Raiders and Crosby may enter this matchup with a newfound hunger to prove themselves.