If Tottenham Hotspur Stadium isn’t blaring Mark Morrison’s “Return of the Mack” this Sunday when the Oakland Raiders square off against the Chicago Bears in London, well, it would be a damn shame. (An F-bomb would me more apt there, but I don’t want to get suspended for the season by the Powers That Be at the Ramble).
Immediately after the Raiders riveting win in Indianapolis and the Bears stonewalling Minneosta this past Sunday, the pendulum quickly shifted to the return of the Mack — Khalil Mack. We don’t need to go over the particulars, do we? Mack, the Raider Jon Gruden shipped off to Chicago for a bounty of draft capitol, is slated to face his former team.
Forgive Raider Nation for mixed emotions. It’s not often the team snags a future hall of famer in the draft. But here we are: Mack spearheading a domineering Chicago defense against a building Oakland offense captained by the coach who dismissed him and a quarterback — Derek Carr — that he’s still very close with.
So many combustible elements, so many possibilities.
But here’s a good one for you: Gruden finally gets to meet Mack. The Raiders wily head coach laments he never got a chance to meet the destructive pass rusher.
“At least I got to meet Antonio,” Gruden quipped when peppered with endless AB inquiries. “I never got to meet Khalil [Mack].”
Mack will surely be meeting Carr in the backfield on Sunday. Unless the Raiders game plan and execute, they’ll see plenty of No. 52 wreaking havoc. Offensive line coach Tom Cable devised a blocking scheme to stymie vaunted Denver pass rushers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb and Carr and Co. executed.
Let’s hit those Quick Slants fast like … like … Mack getting into the backfield (gulp!):
- Rookie tailback Josh Jacobs is proving his value as a first-round selection. The Alabama product has 62 totes for 307 yards for a robust 5.0 yards. Jacobs is 9th in the league in yards and 10th in carries. He hasn’t found the end zone since he did it twice in Week 1, however, he runs hard and moves the chains. In Gruden’s jump out to a lead and kill the clock offense, Jacobs role is vital and hopefully continues to grow.
- Tight end Darren Waller continues to be a dynamic target that allows Gruden to be creative. The tale of redemption is ranked 13th in the league with 320 receiving yards. That total along with his 33 catches make him the top tight end in the league (before Monday night’s tilt). While he hasn’t caught a TD pass, the 27-year-old is destined for a contract extension at some point.
- Veteran defensive end and sack leader Benson Mayowa was a healthy scratch for this past Sunday’s game. He wasn’t happy posting a cryptic tweet before the game. Mayowa leads the team with 3.5 sacks, yet it was rookie Maxx Crosby who saw action in the vets stead and the fourth-round pick produced: Two tackles with two pass deflections at the line of scrimmage and a drive-killing forced fumble. He’s got a motor that won’t quit and that’s endearing to Gruden.
- Wide receiver Tyrell Williams is too good to be body catching. Quite honestly, the drop on the quick slant and the more egregious one in the end zone for a would-be seal-the-game touchdown are beneath him.
- Raider safeties Lamarcus Joyner, Karl Joseph and Erik Harris had themselves a ball game in Indy. Joyner, the slot corner by craft, darted in to smother a run and showed off his sure tackling along with pass coverage chops. Joseph had several textbook tackles — ones you show as proper technique on film. And Harris’ pick six helped stave off the Colts’ rally.