The Las Vegas Raiders are looking to bounce back from a tough loss. As the 2-2 Chicago Bears head to town, there is plenty to improve upon for the Raiders. There is, however, plenty to be excited about. Between a struggling offensive line and a terrific defensive front, let’s review three keys to beating the Chicago Bears.
Pressuring the Rookie
Just days ago, Bears head coach, Matt Nagy, stated that rookie Justin Fields will be the team’s starting quarterback. For a Raiders team sporting a dominant edge-rushing unit, this should be music to their ears. Chicago’s offensive line is miraculously even worse than Las Vegas’s, allowing 16 sacks to the Raiders’ 12.
Proving to be a dangerous defensive matchup, Las Vegas has had different players break out in each game. Solomon Thomas, Darius Philon, Maxx Crosby, and Yannick Ngakoue have all shined. Those players need to apply pressure to the young and mobile quarterback. The Raiders certainly don’t want to be on the other side of a Justin Fields coming out party.
Protect Derek Carr
In case it isn’t obvious, the Raiders’ offensive line has not been good. It hasn’t even been mediocre. The unit looked so lost against the Los Angeles Chargers that Las Vegas began fiddling with various lineups in practice. One lineup we will see more often includes Alex Leatherwood shifting to guard with Brandon Parker at right tackle. Whichever combo the Raiders choose will be in for a major test against a destructive Chicago defense that currently leads the NFL with 15 sacks.
The Raiders will have to fend off an old friend in Khalil Mack to keep Derek Carr upright. If the Raiders can somehow keep the pressure to a minimum, they’ve already won the game. Staying competitive against a line featuring Mack, Robert Quinn, and Akeem Hicks would be a big win by itself.
Win the Coaching Battle
Jon Gruden’s lack of aggression is something Raiders fans had hoped to leave in 2020. Gruden’s habit of dulling down his playbook when it matters has undoubtedly hindered an otherwise explosive Raiders offense. To beat Chicago, the Raiders must attack the defense early and often. The Raiders’ recent slow starts have been killers, especially in Los Angeles on Monday night. The Silver and Black can avoid another sluggish start if Gruden can design an offensive game plan with less predictability. Sure, nobody is rushing to call Matt Nagy “Coach of the Year,” in fact, his seat is one of the hottest in the NFL. If Vegas wants any shot at winning this game, it starts with Gruden. He will have to out-duel a declining Nagy, especially in the red zone and with his first-quarter play calling. If Gruden can work out these kinks, it will help beyond just beating Chicago.
*Top Photo: L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal