The AFC West this offseason has very quickly become the league’s best division. While most of the media is talking about the quarterbacks, the pass rushers in the division are dangerous too. Every team in the division has good pass rushers.
Former Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack is back in the AFC West after spending the last 4 seasons in Chicago. The Chargers traded for Mack in one of many big trades this offseason. He joins Joey Bosa on the Chargers. Mack and Bosa have combined for 134.5 sacks in their careers. Bosa did only have 10.5 sacks last year but having another sack artist on the defense allows for fewer double teams and gives him more chances for sacks.
Raiders defensive end Maxx Crosby is not only a feel-good story due to being sober for over 2 years now after entering rehab in 2020, but he is a good pass rusher too. He’s now going to be paired with former Cardinals defensive end Chandler Jones. Jones is 2nd in the NFL among active players in sacks with 107.5 behind Von Miller. The pairing of Crosby and Jones should make for the Raiders finishing high in the NFL in sacks.
The Broncos still have Bradley Chubb despite trading Von Miller before the trade deadline. Yes, Chubb failed to record a sack during the 2021 season, but he can still rush the quarterback especially if he has another pass rusher to be paired with. The Broncos are bringing in Randy Gregory after he changed his mind about resigning with the Cowboys. While Gregory and Chubb didn’t have that great of seasons in 2021, I feel like being on the same defense could result in career years for both players. As mentioned previously, having another pass rusher can make a big difference in how good your players do on defense.
The Chiefs are returning Chris Jones who had 9 sacks last season and is probably the Chiefs pass rusher. Even if he doesn’t get a sack he rushes the throw which can lead to incompletions or interceptions. Frank Clark did have his 2nd lowest career sack total in a season last year, he was injured a good portion of last season. He also steps up in the playoffs. Including his time in Seattle, Clark has 11 sacks in 14 playoff games, including 5 during the Chiefs Super Bowl championship playoff run. It remains to be seen if the Chiefs will bring back Melvin Ingram but if they do, he played a huge role in the Chiefs’ defensive turnaround.
How do you stop a strong pass rush? With an offensive line of course. AFC West teams have been quiet in signing offensive linemen so far, I’ve got a strong feeling that changes soon for the division with arguably the best group of quarterbacks in the NFL, due in part to being the only division with 2 quarterbacks that have won a Super Bowl as a starter, Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson. You’ve gotta protect your quarterback, just ask the Bengals.
The AFC West has had its fair share of pass rushers in the past, including our beloved Chiefs. While some haven’t played for extended times, we’ve had names come through the division such as Derrick Thomas, DeMarcus Ware, Jared Allen, and Von Miller among many others. It has gotten a whole lot better this offseason. Patrick Mahomes, Derek Carr, Justin Herbert, and Russell Wilson are probably going to have nightmares with the sack artists they are going to play against in this division.