Antonio Pierce is a huge proponent of running the ball. One could even say it’s the backbone of his beat ‘em down philosophy he’s going to amplifying now that Pierce is the unquestioned head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders.
Pierce wants to pummel the opposition with a domineering ground attack before thoroughly stomping them into the ground in the fourth quarter. This style was on full display when the Raiders went into Arrowhead and dropped the Kansas City Chiefs 20-14 back on Christmas.
In order to ensure his football team continues to display that kind of brute-force mentality, Pierce tabbed Luke Getsy as his new offensive coordinator. This after his initial choice for play caller, Kliff Kingsbury, decided to bolt from the desert and become the new coordinator for the Washington Commanders. But, nonetheless, Getsy is a philosophical match for Pierce.
Getsy, a young offensive mind at age 39, ran the ball — a lot — during his tenure as the play caller for the Chicago Bears. So much so, Gety’s offense produced elite rushing numbers in 2022 and 2023. And it wasn’t just quarterback Justin Fields racking up the carries and yards, either. Let’s take a look:
2022: Fields had 160 carries for 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns. Running backs David Montgomery (201 carries, 801 yards, five touchdowns) and Kahlil Herbert (129, 731, four) combined for 330 carries for 1,532 yards and nine scores as the trio accounted for the bulk of Chicago’s total of 558 totes for 3,014 yards, and 18 touchdowns. The production gave the Bears the top-ranked group in terms of yards gained and second in rushing attempts that year. Key caveats in 2022 include Fields starting in 15 games while Montgomery started all 16 contests.
2023: Fields carried the ball 124 times for 657 yards and four scores. Running backs Herbert (132 carries, 611 yards, two touchdowns), D’Onta Foreman (109, 425, four), and Roschon Johnson (81, 352, two) combined for 322 carries, 1,388 yards, and eight scores, as those group of four produced the bulk of Chicago’s total of 534 totes, 2,399 yards and 16 touchdowns. The Bears ranked second in both carries and yards in 2023. Key caveats this past year include Fields starting 13 games while the starts at tailback were dispersed between Herbert and Foreman (nine and eight starts, apiece).
While Fields did have a huge hand in bolstering Getsy’s ground game, he wasn’t the lone source of production. Subtract the 657 yards Fields produced in 2023 and the Bears’ tally would be 1,742 yards which puts them in a tie for 21st-ranked rushing attack in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints. For context, Las Vegas had the 30th-ranked rushing offense with 1,542 yards on 413 carries.
When Chicago throttled Las Vegas 30-12 back on Oct. 22, it was a domineering ground-and-pound that churned out 173 yards on 38 carries (two touchdowns) against the Raiders defense. Foreman’s power-running style produced 89 yards (and the two scores) on 16 carries while Darrynton Evans added 48 yards on 14 carries.
Antonio Pierce on new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy: “He whupped our ass when we played them (the Bears). Who was their QB? I don’t know. Who was their RB? I don’t know. But they still beat us pretty good.”— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) February 6, 2024
Where Getsy and Pierce doesn’t seem to mesh perfectly is the aerial attack. This isn’t postulating or conjecture. This is purely based on what Pierce himself made clear: Marry a dominant ground game with play action and vertical downfield shots. That’s a Raiders staple, that Pierce and new general manager Tom Telesco referred to during their introductory press conference two weeks ago.
“But you know what you see in the National Football League. You’ve got to be able to run the football, play action pass. What are the Raiders known for? The vertical passing game, right? We want to see the shots down the field. We want the explosive plays,” Pierce said.
Whether it was due to Fields’ limitations a passer or Getsy not able to cook up a scheme that made his quarterback into a balanced signal caller — the truth is likely in the middle and both QB and play caller are of equal blame — the Bears’ passing game never got in sync. There’s ample evidence of Fields missing wide open targets and holding on to the all along with spacing issues Getsy had in formations where receiving options clustered together making it easy for defenses to defend targets.
In 2023, Chicago’s pass offense ranked 27th in the league with 321 completions on 513 attempts (62.6 percent) for 3,096 yards with 19 touchdowns and 15 interceptions thrown. This past season was improvement from a 2022 campaign that saw the Bears’ aerial attack ranked dead last with 223 completions on 377 attempts (59.2) for 2,219 yards and 19 touchdowns to 15 interceptions thrown.
While Getsy may have built a reputation for a creative pass game coordinator and quarterbacks coach during his time with the Green Bay Packers — gaining admiration from quarterback Aaron Rodgers — the play callers most recent job performance in Chicago isn’t ideal.
We’ll see if a change of scenery to Las Vegas under Pierce reignites the creativity, as free agency in March and the draft in April will help shape the Raiders offense in terms of players. And if the quarterback room changes from it’s current state of 2023 fourth-round pick Aidan O’Connell as the top option to start, then a deeper dive into Getsy is in order.