On Sunday in London, the Raiders will face Khalil Mack and the Chicago Bears. The Bears do have a full injury report, but their defense remains formidable regardless of who is playing. The Raiders offense struggled to put up points against the Vikings. This defense is even better.
The Bears offense on the other hand has not been consistently effective in 2019. The Raiders defense started to hit its stride last week against a banged up Colts. This game has the makings of a defensive slug fest.
With pro-bowl players at every level of the defense, the Bears unit is primed to claim their place as the best in the NFL. Chicago has given up around 10 points a game making life a nightmare of opposing quarterbacks.
Look no further than Khalil Mack who not only has a relentless motor off the edge but his ability to comand double and triple teams opens up rush lanes for the remaining defensive linemen.
Mack says he has been looking forward to this game. That could mean trouble for Derek Carr and the offense. Raiders fans know all too well Mack’s ability to single handedly take over game with huge plays. The Raiders will need to keep the pass rush off Carr by sticking to the run game and quick passes for the majority of the game.
Well the quick game might not be so simple. The Bears are famous for being very tricky in coverage, asking their defensive backs to execute many different techniques. Having so much volume in the back of the defense makes it difficult to effectively gameplan the passing game.
Take this slant flat rub concept in the redzone. The Raiders have leaned on this concept throughout Gruden’s 2nd tenure with the Raiders. In Week 2, Denver called this concept against Chicago because they thought it would create a rub, freeing Emmanuel Sanders for a TD. Chicago however is in a “banjo” coverage where the defensive backs will switch receivers if they cross each other’s path. It seems like this defense is always one step ahead of their opponents.
The only game the Bears lost this season came during their week 1 showdown against the division rival Packers. The final score was 10-3. The biggest play from that contest was a 47 yard heave from Aaron Rodgers off a play-action pass.
If the Raiders can establish the run and stay in the game long enough, there is a chance a play-action pass can stall the pass rush long enough for Carr to have a chance to make a similar play. Easier said than done.
With starting QB Mitchell Trubisky out with a shoulder injury, the Raiders will face back-up Chase Daniels. Daniels has familiarity with the offensive scheme, having in the past played under Bears Head Coach Jim Nagy when both were in Kansas City.
Daniels will likely lean on RB Tarik Cohen who is a swiss army knife in the Bears offense. Cohen is a premier pass catching option out of the backfield and can win one on one matchups against linebackers with ease.
This play is Cohen running an option route against Pro-Bowl linebacker Anthony Barr last week after Daniels came in to replace the injured Trubisky. Cohen sees the safety go inside so he breaks his route outside for an easy throw and catch for a TD. If Raiders LB Tahir Whitehead draws Cohen in man coverage, a similar result will likely happen this Sunday in London.
Chicago Head Coach Jim Nagy comes from Kansas City and his offense has many similarities. Take this cloak and dagger fake screen play for a big gain. The Bears get the defense to bite on a the screen action while running switch verticals down the field.
The Raiders showed difficulty defending such concepts during their Week 2 match-up agains the Chiefs. Nagy will have plenty of these plays up his sleave to help Daniels make connections down the field.
The one area the Bears offense is weak is at guard, especially in pass protection. The Bears have allowed plenty of pressure up the middle and 3rd and long plays can be a problem for them to block. Raiders Defensive Tackles PJ Hall and Maurice Hurst should have a solid day rushing the passer against this offensive line. Look for the Raiders sack drought to be quenched this week with Daniels in at QB.