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To the Maxx! Broncos must minimize the damage of Raiders edge rusher Crosby

McGlinchey: 'It's a hard work day anytime Maxx is across from you'
Maxx Crosby
Posted at 1:33 PM, Sep 07, 2023

ENGLEWOOD – The Broncos installed new grass at Empower Field after the Ed Sheeran concert last month, leaving the blades green and fresh. The new scoreboard is big enough to be seen from Cheyenne. And there are plenty of fresh food and drink options.

Everything is set up for a postcard perfect Sunday home opener with the temperatures in the 70s.

What could go wrong? Edge rusher Maxx Crosby has the potential to spill Ragu on the Mona Lisa.

Against the league, he is a Pro Bowler. Against the Broncos, he is a first ballot Hall of Famer. They couldn’t block him on Twitter. Maybe they will have better luck on X.

Crosby boasts a 7-1 record against Denver with 11.5 sacks. His next highest total versus a team is four against the Chiefs and Bengals. Narrow the focus and it gets worse, driving home the point that Broncos tackles Garett Bolles and Mike McGlinchey must play well for Denver’s offense to find its rhythm and for Russell Wilson to stay off the ground.

"He plays more through the whistle probably more than anybody you play against, which is exciting and an exciting opportunity," McGlinchey told Denver7.
"Maxx is also an incredibly intelligent player. He sees a lot of things happening on the football field. He studies film, knows tells, knows formational tendencies. It makes it really hard to get a jump on him. You have to trust your training, trust your basics and what you are seeing on film on what your plan is to attack him. It’s a hard work day anytime Maxx is across from you for sure.”

In his past four games against Denver, Crosby boasts eight sacks with 11 tackles for loss and 11 quarterback hits. That is the type of damage that Broncos associated with Von Miller at his peak. The Broncos know the importance of starting fast this season – they are favored against Las Vegas and Washington in back-to-back home games – and revealing a functional offense. Broncos coach Sean Payton has won his last three season openers and scored at least 30 points in each.

It speaks to the importance of preventing Crosby from becoming a game wrecker. Part of that plan resides with a solid ground game. Payton insists that running the ball must be part of the “team’s DNA.” It creates a physical identity, establishes toughness and, if done well, prevents bulls like Crosby from kicking up dust and pinning their ears back. Payton has not revealed the workload for Javonte Williams, but it’s fair to assume he will be eased back into the fold this month. Samaje Perine is a qualified backup with a Jaleel McLaughlin set to provide a change of pace, perhaps like Darren Sproles.

In other words, run the ball to keep Crosby from running up field.

To the Maxx! Broncos must minimize the damage of Raiders edge rusher Crosby

One factor working in the Broncos’ favor could be the absence of rusher Chandler Jones. He has been going through drama off the field, sending missives at the organization that culminated with the veteran posting on social media Wednesday night that the Raiders sent a member of the crisis response team to his home. Raiders coach Josh McDaniels told the media that Jones was experiencing a “personal situation. … And we’ve never really gone into those kinds of things, so I am going to steer away from that.” Jones, 33, had some of his best games against Wilson when the linebacker played for the Arizona Cardinals. However, he did not register a sack against the Broncos last season in two games, finishing with seven combined tackles.

McGlinchey represents the Broncos’ biggest free agent prize, landing a five-year, $87.5 million contract with $52.5 million guaranteed. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed six sacks last season. He returned after two weeks from a sprained knee in training camp, but did not play in the preseason games, his action limited to the practices against the Rams. How he holds up for a full game bears watching.

“Obviously, it was a little bit of a hiccup early in camp when I had that happen to my knee," McGlinchey said. "But it was great to get back. Our training staff and our rehabilitation staff did an unbelievable job with the program, and I was able to get back a little bit quicker than expected.”

Bolles allowed 1.5 sacks in five starts last season before suffering a broken leg/ankle. He was eased back into the mix this summer. Can he re-establish himself as the second-team All-Pro performer he was in 2020?

Regardless, I would expect Payton to game plan around Crosby. The new coach has worked with Wilson on getting to the line of scrimmage fast and getting the rid of the ball quickly. Whether it is through scheme or winning one-on-one matchups, the Broncos’ ability to snap their six-game losing streak to the Raiders hinges, in part, on the ability to contain Crosby.