In hindsight, the move to sign with the Las Vegas Raiders was seemingly a no-brainer for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.
The 26-year-old was coming off a rocky 2020 campaign that saw him play for two teams. Regardless, the Raiders still felt he could lead a resurgence in their pass rush under a familiar face in defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.
Ngakoue will be reunited with Bradley following their stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Although times have changed since then, it appears Bradley’s love for the game has not.
Ngakoue praised Bradley for maintaining the same energetic approach from their days in Jacksonville and is looking forward to playing his part in the new defense.
“The thing that’s really crazy to me is that he’s the same guy. If not, he has way more energy,” Ngakoue said. “He always was a high-energy guy, a guy that’s personable, a great coach and unfortunately in Jacksonville we didn’t do what we were supposed to do to keep him there. But here, he’s just putting us in great positions to make plays and allow us to be free. That’s a guy that loves the game, brings passion every day no matter what’s going on in his life. He’s always going to have a smile on his face.”
Both Ngakoue and Bradley certainly have good reason to be excited. After all, he put up stellar numbers as a rookie under his tutelage with 8.0 sacks, four forced fumbles, and an interception in Jacksonville.
Ngakoue’s comments indicate that he has high hopes for what this new chapter in Las Vegas will bring. He finds himself in a position to build on his previous success under Bradley for a team with playoff expectations.
The rapport between Ngakoue and Bradley will need to pay some dividends if they hope to get this group up to par. The Raiders boasted one of the worst pass rushes in the league last season after recording a mere 21 sacks.
Fortunately, Ngakoue has wasted no time making quite an impression on his new teammates and coaches with his new bulked-up physique. Not only that, his technique and on-field has not gone unnoticed by fellow defensive lineman Maxx Crosby and Solomon Thomas.
Despite the early promise from Crosby and defensive end Clelin Ferrell, the Raiders were clearly adamant about bringing in a veteran presence this offseason. While Bradley will be tasked with monitoring their development, Ngakoue is expected to be the spark that ignites the pass rush.